An American Billionaire Gives 24 Chibok Girls A New Lease Of Life

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The girls will probably live with the terror of their harrowing experience all their lives. But one man may change that — for at least a few of them.

It seems that life is bound to be ruined for someone who went through hell and back like the Chibok girls.

But they have a champion — and his name is Robert Frederick Smith.

Chibok Girls

The Nigerian terror group Boko Haram carried out a mass abduction of girls from their boarding school in Chibok in April 2014, causing international outrage.

The group had initially threatened to sell the girls into slavery but later offered to trade them for detained militants.

Some of the girls managed to escape, some were rescued by the Nigerian army and 21 girls were freed by the terrorists themselves  when the International Red Cross and the Swiss government brokered a deal with the group.

They had harrowing tales to tell and most of them will live with the terror of the experience all their lives.

Things have started looking up for some of them, though, who are slowly integrating back in life and society.

American Billionaire

One of the heroes who is making sure of it is an American billionaire Robert Frederick Smith.

Smith, founder of the American private equity firm Vista Equity Partners, will sponsor the education of 24 Chibok schoolgirls. The girls will attend the prestigious American University of Nigeria, Yola.

"A black American billionaire, Mr. Robert Smith, who is currently sponsoring the education of 24 girls from Chibok, among them the first set of escapees from Boko Haram at the American University of Nigeria, Yola, has offered to pay for the education of the 21 released girls through negotiations and is offering to take responsibility for all the others who will hopefully be eventually set free," Garba Shehu, Nigeria's presidential spokesman said in a statement.

The  54-year-old was ranked 268th on Forbes list of America’s wealthiest people in 2015. With a net worth of $2.5 billion, Smith is the second richest African-American, the first being Oprah Winfrey.

Smith is known to many as the "quiet billionaire" because he usually keeps his work and philanthropy away from the public eye.

His first publicly known act of philanthropy came to light in 2013 when he gave a $20 million gift to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, making him the second biggest private donor to the museum after Winfrey, who had previously donated a sum of $21 million.

Smith is the founding president of Fund II Foundation, through which he supports nonprofit groups that focus on African American culture, human rights, music education and the environment.

"We've got the Black Lives Matter campaign going on [in the U.S.] at the moment, and these girls matter too," Smith says. "Their lives matter not just because of the events that happened, but just because their lives matter."

Image Sources Banner: Reuters, Spotlight: Facebook

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