Amina Ali, who this week became the first of 219 abducted Chibok schoolgirls to be found, had undergone a dramatic transformation since she was seized by Boko Haram nearly two years ago.
“She was completely changed. She had become very thin and awkward,” Blamadu Lawan, the vice-principal of the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, northeast Nigeria, told the BBC.
Lawan, who said he identified her when she was brought back to her home town of Mbalala, near Chibok, after being found on Tuesday, remembered a “quiet and humble girl”.
“She didn’t used to say much and now she looks motherly,” he told the broadcaster.
A female neighbour of the family described her as “a darling of the neighbourhood”, quick to help with household chores and keep the family compound clean.
“She always wore a smile on her face and hardly quarrelled with any child in our area. This is why she kept many friends among the children of the neighbourhood,” the neighbour told AFP.
Amina and her elder brother were the only surviving children of Muslim parents Ali and Binta and lived in a mud-brick home with a corrugated iron roof in the mainly Christian market town.
Eleven of her siblings died and shortly after Amina, then aged 17, was kidnapped from the school on April 14, 2014, her father died, said Ayuba Alamson Chibok, a local teacher who knows the family.
Ali was one of 18 parents — 16 men and two women — who have died waiting for their daughters to return, Yakubu Nkeki, of the Chibok Abducted Girls Parents group, told AFP in Chibok in March.
– Husband, baby –
Binta Ali said in a statement read to the media after she met President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja on Thursday she was “heartbroken and devastated” at Amina’s disappearance.
The 11 children she lost died at the ages of four and five, she said.