Freedom - Don't Ever Take It For Granted

Posted by Sharon Montiero
June 20, 2009

port-harcourt-nigeria.jpgMy husband got an offer to open an International School in Port Harcourt Nigeria. Although we surfed the web and spoke to a couple of people in Port Harcourt, were not prepared for the signs of abject poverty in Port Harcourt.

The shacks and ship containers that were home to these people, the broken down cars on the side of the roads, the long grass that had not been cut. The roads were lonely with pockets of ‘mopo’ (mobile police) who looked very scary. We wondered what had we signed up for?

We made friends with the local people who were very friendly and settled in.  My husband got immersed in his project and I got involved with company activities i.e. helping them streamline their HR department, Emceeing events, editing the company in house magazine etc.

Suddenly, on the 1st of June 2007, between 2 - 5 am, armed militants stormed our residential compound; they could not get through the main gate and instead broke through the boundary walls. The militants began throwing grenades and shooting at anything/anyone that moved.

After a major shootout between our security men and the militants, the militants overpowered our security and kidnapped my boss (Managing Director) and nine other employees including two ladies and children.

At 7 am I walked gingerly across to the MD’s bungalow to visit his wife. The road was full of shattered glass, scattered shoes and blood and there were bullet holes in the windows and walls. That same day we were immediately evacuated to Lagos and put up in a hotel. 

Initially, we were petrified by the shouting and shooting but calmness settled on us once we prayed for safety. During the shootout, I slowly went around our bungalow, on my hands and knees, collecting our passports, important documents and my son’s favorite soft toys, making sure to stay away from the windows.
While we were in our hotel in Lagos, everyone was gloomy and reliving the incident over and over again. We stayed away from this and instead my husband started calling his contacts in Dubai. Lucky for us, we were asked to meet a school Principal in Dubai. On the 5th of June, while we were in transit in Dubai, my husband was interviewed by the CEO of a well known school and we moved to Dubai.

The gift I took away from this experience is the value of freedom, the ability to walk on the road without looking behind, to sleep knowing no one will break your door open and take you away.

Sharon is a Motivational Speaker, her niche is young moms and teenagers. She is also a trained Life Coach (divorce and troubled teenagers) and soon to be author of her book ‘Give me a Break!’ Her email id is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.