Six months ago, the #BringBackOurGirls campaign was everywhere. It began as a small movement in Nigeria, to raise awareness of the hundreds of school girls who were kidnapped in the night by the Muslim extremist group known as Boko Haram, but it quickly spread into a worldwide battle cry. Soon, Facebook pages were set up to get the word out, an official hashtag was adopted and celebrities were walking red carpets while holding signs that read simply "#BringBackOurGirls."
But as the days and weeks continued to pass with no news of the girls' return, #BringBackOurGirls began to sadly fade in our collective memory.
Until last week.
On Friday, October 17, the Nigerian government announced it had agreed to a ceasefire with Boko Haram. They are also said to be negotiating the release of the girls, who were reportedly auctioned off in April at $12 each to become "wives" of the militants.
For many, this news brings a great sense of hope that the young girls—who, six months ago, were studying to become doctors, lawyers and more—might soon again have their lives' back.
And those "huge expectations" appear, for the first time, to be warranted.
"Already, the terrorists have announced a ceasefire in furtherance of their desire for peace," government spokesman Mike Omeri said in a press conference last week. "In this regard, the government of Nigeria has, in similar vein, declared a ceasefire."
Of course, there are those there who remain skeptical. After all, there have been several rumors of a release in the last few months that have proved fruitless over time. According to The Guardian, some are even wondering if this positive news is in any way a means to secure re-election for Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan, who has otherwise been criticized for his handling of the kidnapping.
But still, those within the Nigerian government are insisting that this time, things are different. "Boko Haram issued the ceasefire as a result of the discussions we have been having with them," said Hassan Tukur, principal secretary to President Jonathan. “They have agreed to release the Chibok girls."
For now, it is unclear whether the release will come within days, weeks or longer, but for those close to the campaign, the very news that it will soon come is enough hope to go on.