The day Boko Haram tried to take my daughter


A sense of panic spread through Nigerian mum Salamatu Ahmadu’s body when fighters from Boko Haram said they were going to take her daughter.

The group’s reputation for kidnapping children, particularly girls, is as feared as it is well-known, so Salamatu begged them to change their mind.

‘I pleaded with them but they were adamant,’ said the 41-year-old. ‘I thought to myself, I would rather my daughter dies in my arms than let Boko Haram take her away. The fear and anguish of losing her overwhelmed me and I fainted. By the grace of God, Boko Haram released my daughter. When I regained consciousness, I gathered myself, took courage and led my family in the great escape.’

The stress of her encounter with Boko Haram left Salamatu with chest pains, hallucinations and the sound of gunshots ringing in her ears, but gradually she is recovering from her ordeal.

She is now living in a safer place and receiving support from Tearfund partner Crudan, which helped her get referred to a hospital where she’s received treatment and her health has stabilised.

Photo: Istifanus Gimba/Tearfund
Food for those driven from their homes by Boko Haram being unloaded by Tearfund partner staff in Yola, north eastern Nigeria. Photo: Istifanus Gimba/Tearfund

You have not only provided us with food but you went an extra mile to address our health issues

Salamatu Ahmadu, displaced by Boko Haram


Food from our partner has also gone down well: ‘We struggled with physical and mental pains because we had no money, I thought the die was already cast against us. You have not only provided us with food but you went an extra mile to address our health issues; may God bless you. Thank you very much.’

The insurgency by Boko Haram has left a trail of humanitarian devastation in its wake, with 2.2 million Nigerians driven from their homes, 1.5 million malnourished children and 230,000 people seeking refuge in neighbouring countries.

Through partners, Tearfund is providing a range of help for people affected by the violence, including:

  • distributing food parcels
  • screening children under 5 for malnutrition
  • building latrines, boreholes and hand-washing facilities
  • promoting good hygiene
  • counselling those who’ve been traumatised

Tearfund’s help for people affected by disasters depends on your generous support. Please make a donation today.

Mark Lang