On June 27, President Donald Trump and his daughter and advisor, Ivanka, met two young Nigerian women with extraordinary stories to tell: Joy Bishara, 20, and Lydia Pogu, 19, both of whom escaped from Boko Haram after being kidnapped in 2014.
Bishara and Pogu eventually came to America and graduated from an Oregon high school in 2017, just three years after they had managed to flee the Nigerian terrorist group. The two told People they wanted to thank the president for allowing them to complete their education safely in the U.S., and to urge the Trumps to continue working toward freeing the more than 100 girls still in captivity.
"I enjoyed [the visit], it was wonderful," Bishara told NPR. "Her [Ivanka's] work is a really good one, at least she's helping people around the world who have been hurt."
Author and former President George H.W. Bush assistant Doug Wead, now the president of the Christian boarding school where the girls graduated, said he keeps in contact with Ivanka and heard from her that she "absolutely" wanted to meet the pair, particularly because of her interest in stopping human trafficking.
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The White House released a photo of the visit the following day, but did not announce the meeting to the press beforehand.
"We were honored to welcome Joy and Lydia, two incredible young women from Chibok, Nigeria, to the White House," Ivanka said in a statement, notes People. "They shared with me their remarkable journey in overcoming tremendous adversity, and I am in awe of their courage and heart. I look forward to watching them flourish."
At the meeting, the pair read a letter that they wrote to the president:
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"Three years ago, we and many of our fellow students were kidnapped by the Boko Haram terrorists," they said. "Our boarding school was burned to the ground. We were lucky. We escaped."
Even after the two had escaped and made it back to their homes, however, they "lived in fear" the group would come looking for them, they said.
"We could not sleep in our own beds for fear that they would come back and find us," they continued. "At night, we slept in the bush. Finally, we came to America, where we could finish our high-school education in safety."
The two will attend Southeastern University in Florida in the fall. During the summer, they will fly to Nigeria to visit their families for the first time since the Jubilee Campaign, a human rights group, brought them to their new home in August 2014.