Chibok girls who escaped Boko Haram return to school

Chibok girls who escaped Boko Haram defy militants by returning to school

Left to fend for themselves by the government, the traumatised schoolgirls a second chance at education thanks to one determined Nigerian woman

Some of the Chibok schoolgirls who escaped Boko Haram

Some of the Chibok schoolgirls who escaped Boko Haram. Ten months on, some girls are now back in education. Not all could shake off the fear the militants would return for them. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

The jihadis had warned they would shoot anyone trying to escape. But as the truck full of frightened schoolgirls sped deeper into Boko Haram territory, two sisters clasped hands and jumped off together into the night.

Now, they held hands once again as they faced another terrifying prospect: returning to school.

Asabe and Ruth evaded the fate of 219 of their classmates in the north-eastern Nigerian village of Chibok who are still in captivity.

The mass abduction last April propelled the sect into global infamy, as the missing students became an international symbol of Boko Haram’s escalating war against lay edu....

But, far from the limelight, 57 young women who escaped were left grasping to make sense of their new reality.

They could not shake off the fear the militants would return for them. Instead of working towards becoming doctors, teachers or artists, the former students learned to sleep in the bush to avoid potential night-time raids.

By day, they roamed for miles under the unforgiving sun so they would not be around if the men with machine guns swooped in again.

Then, late one August afternoon, a stranger showed up at Asabe and Ruth’s tin-roof home offering a scholarship to study in Yola, the capital of a neighbouring state.

Acceptance would be a brazen act of defiance against Boko Haram, but the sect had repeatedly warned the students they would kill the families of those who continued schooling. ...

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