In 2020 some 170 Christian students were able to study with the aid of a scholarship in Hungarian Universities, including the University of Debrecen. Elizabeth comes from the city of Shaki, where she lives with her family, where almost four-hundred-thousand people live; 70% of them are Muslims and 30% Christian. The Nigerian Christian girl has a unique quest: to save her own people.
In Nigeria, while the number of Christians is larger, the ruling religion is Muslim. Because of this, Christian persecution is much greater. Boko Haram and other terrorist groups are cruelly torturing them because of their faith in Christ. Terrorists kidnap children, force them to be soldiers; they kill priests, Christian leaders, seminarians, in fact anyone who is a Christian. In Nigeria, during Christmas, churches and hospitals were set on fire. The Hungary Helps Program, a humanitarian program, provides quick and effective help to the victims of persecution especially persecuted Christians. Their aid helps Christian youngsters to further their studies.
-Hungary is a very nice place, said Elizabeth at the start of the interview. Here we can live freely without fear. It’s a unique blessing that we can study here, thanks be to God .
– How can a fragile woman save Africa?
– I love my people passionately. Malnutrition and famine are huge problems in Africa. The countries in the Sahara have no sources of good quality food or water. Children under the age of five are suffering from malnourishment. I feel I have to do something.
– And this noble goal guides you in your Hungarian studies?
– My solemn goal is to help. Thanks to the Hungary Helps Program, from September of 2019 I was to able continue my studies at masters level in Debrecen. I’m studying food safety, and I will graduate this year.
– Are there any other scholarship programs for African students other than the one that the Hungary Helps Program provides?
– There are civic actions, but the Hungarian humanitarian program focuses on persecuted Christians specifically. Many know the Hungary Helps program in Nigeria.
– Are you in contact with the others in the Hungary Helps’ scholarship program?
-Yes, there are three other Nigerian students studying in Debrecen and a girl from Kenya, but there are also students from Iran, Palestine, and Pakistan.
– You have now got a taste of how is it to live in a country without fear. Will you return to Africa?
– I have to go home. My love towards my people is as great as my love towards God. I cannot forsake it, no matter what happens. The Hungarian program helps me; in return, I want to help my starving people using my new knowledge.
– The news outlets are reporting about attacks, murders and slaughters in your country.
– It’s all true what we read and hear in the news. When I was very young, during a [religious] service, they set fire to my church. In my city, there is a Muslim majority. I went through a huge trauma when they set the church on fire on us and broke the windows. The flames were coming in, and everybody ran out; it was horrible. The elders, who couldn’t run, got burned. At the time, many Christians all around Nigeria suffered the same; it was a coordinated attack against us, but since then, the attacks are even worse; there are even murders. This is my own personal experience, but we can hear about the brutal attacks of Boko Haram in the north. This will never end. Fear will be a part of our life. Anything could happen at any time. … We heard many sad stories in the news. One of these is the story of Leah Sharibu, one of the hundred and ten girls who Boko Haram kidnapped in February of 2014 in Yobe State, Dapchi. Five of them died during their imprisonment. One month later – with pressure from the government – Boko Haram agreed to return the girls, except Leah Sharibu. Boko Haram told the girl to accept Islam, but she refused. She replied that this was not her faith. Why would she say that? If they want to kill her, they can continue, but she won’t say that she’s a Muslim. She has been a hostage since then.
– Because of your suffering, your faith has gone deeper. You are really living the Gospel.
– Yes, exactly. The lives of Christians are hard because of the persecution. People are losing their homes and their lives because of their faith in Christ. Our only solace is Jesus Christ.