Two dozen Nigerian girls, including 21 who were abducted by Boko Haram in spring 2014, are getting the gift of a lifetime from a complete stranger: a college education.
Texas-based investor Robert Smith, the richest black man in America, is offering full scholarships to the 24 girls, including tuition, housing, and meal plans.
Twenty-one of the scholarship recipients were among the 276 girls kidnapped from a boarding school in Chibok by the terrorist group two years ago. While in captivity, the victims were raped and tortured and forced to either become Boko Haram's slaves or join its military, The Huffington Post reported.
The 21 girls' release was negotiated in October by the Nigerian government, which exchanged them for several imprisoned militants.
The other three women who have been offered scholarships are members of the Chibok community.
According to Blavity, a spokesman for the Nigerian president announced that 54-year-old Smith plans to take responsibility for the girls as well as any who are released from Boko Haram in the future.
Smith, who is worth approximately $2.5 billion, told The Guardian he was driving his daughters to school in the spring of 2015 when a story about 50 girls escaping Boko Haram came on the radio. He sat stunned as he listened to it, and knew he had to do something.
"It just hit (me) as a parent," Smith said in an interview. "And then the scale of (Chibok). Even if it was just two or three, it’s a tragedy, but 300?"
"The quiet billionaire," as some have deemed him, also gave a nod to the Black Lives Matter movement, adding, "These girls matter too."
"Their lives matter not just because of the events that happened, but just because their lives matter," Smith said.