Learn more about the Lake Chad CrisisWhen Boko Haram attacked their village in north-east Nigeria in 2014, Loveth* (then aged 14) and her family had no choice but to run for their lives.
Along with other people from their village, they headed for Yola, a large town almost 200km away from her village, hoping to make the long journey on foot.
However, for some of them, the hopes of getting to a safe haven ended summarily as they approached the next village. They were discovered by armed insurgents.
Separated from her brother
Loveth, her brother and his friend were forced at gunpoint into a waiting vehicle and taken to a border town between Adamawa and Borno states under the control of Boko Haram.
Upon arrival at the site, the hostages were segregated by their gender.
“I didn’t know where we were. I was separated from my brother and his friend. It was a strange place to me and I was terrified beyond imagination,” says Loveth.
She was desperate to escape but had no idea of her location. “I just couldn’t imagine how I would make it to safety even if I managed to break free.”
Loveth does not talk about her experience in captivity.
Girls make a lucky escape
However, three weeks in captivity, Loveth and a few other captive girls, found hope in the form of an elderly woman who ran errands at the site and who took pity on their plight. She was a local and pressed into service by Boko Haram.
The old woman led us into the woods at night and pointed us in the right direction. We just ran breathless into the darkness.
Risking her own life, the woman offered to help Loveth and other six girls at the site. “She knew the area very well and explained the escape route to us,” says Loveth.
“The old woman led us into the woods at night and pointed us in the right direction. We just ran breathless into the darkness. The woman stayed behind.”
All seven girls, including Loveth, made a lucky escape.
Dedicated support for children affected
They walked and walked for every single minute until they arrived at a campsite for internally displaced people (IDPs).
After spending a few days there, Loveth came across her village chief who had come looking for his people at the campsite.
Loveth was overjoyed and returned to her village with the chief. Her brother and his friend, however, are still missing. “He could be anywhere,” she whispers.
Loveth is now back in the school and hopes to become a midwife. She, along with other girls affected by the violence, are being supported by Plan International's dedicated child protection in emergencies and sexual and gender-based violence programmes in Borno and Adamawa states.
The programmes take an integrated approach to both meet the life-saving needs of girls and young women, and to prevent and respond to protection concerns.
Learn more about the Lake Chad Crisis
Millions of children have borne the brunt of the conflict in North East Nigeria. Violent attacks by Boko Haram, together with counter-insurgency measures, have been taking place since 2009 in the Lake Chad region and have intensified since 2013.
Over 17 million people in the three countries of Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon have now been affected. More than 2.3 million people have been forced from their homes, half of whom are children.
* Name has been changed to protect identity.