Dubai: "I was thinking I was going to die that night, I didn't know what to do."
The militants came to the town in the dark. The girls, aged between 16 and 18, were at their boarding school, studying for their final exams. From their school dormitory they heard gunshots and men yelling, and they knew it was Boko Haram.
Next month, April 14, marks three years since Islamic extremists from the Boko Haram group stormed the government high school in Chibok in north-eastern Nigeria, and abducted 219 girls at gunpoint.
The outcry that followed has exposed both the impotence of the Nigerian government and the limits of high celebrity wattage social media campaigns.
#Bringbackourgirls drew considerable attention to the children's abduction, but has not, so far, generated effective action to secure their release. Some have suggested it has even made it harder, because as the group's military position has been weakened, the girls become their best bargaining chip.
A survivor of the abduction, wearing dark glasses and going under the pseudonym Sara over ongoing fears for her own and her family's safety, on Saturday told an audience of education leaders and policymakers in Dubai about what happened to her and her classmates.
"The Boko Haram came to Chibok town and they were shooting guns and yelling at night. We heard the sounds and we knew that it's them," she said.
Terrified, Sara called her father on her mobile phone, who said it was safest to stay and wait for the teachers to tell them what to do.
"We didn't know what to do, waiting for the teachers to come and tell us what to do, without knowing that ... the teachers had run away," she said.
The militants were dressed in army fatigues, so the students initially thought they were the Nigerian security forces there to protect them. Until they were told to obey or be killed.
Sara said the militants demanded to know where the school's food was, which they took and loaded onto trucks.
"They surrounded us with guns and said we shouldn't run or shout, if we did they would kill all of us. So we followed them. They started burning the school, they burnt our clothes, our books and everything."
The students were gathered under a tree and forced at gunpoint to climb into the back of a large truck.
It rolled off through the dark, on a rough bush road, followed at some distance by more of the militants in cars. Sara saw some girls attempt escape by jumping off the back of the truck.
"I was sitting in that truck, thinking where are we going, what are they going to do with us. So I turned and said to my friend, 'I'm going to jump out too'... I told her I'd rather jump out of the truck and fall down and die, maybe my parents will see my body, than to go with them and to not be found."
When Sara leapt from the moving truck, she did not know if her friend had followed her.
She hid in the trees, waiting for the convoy to pass.
Eventually, in the darkness, she heard her friend crying and calling her name. She found her with injuries to both ankles. They waited under a tree until morning, Sara's voice cracking as she described how her friend told her to leave her to die because she couldn't walk.
Later in the day she found a shepherd, who eventually wheeled the injured girl to a village on his bicycle, where the pair sought help and managed to get back to their home village.
The following day, they saw videos from Boko Haram threatening to find and kill the girls that had escaped and their families.
The militant group killed over 6600 people in 2014 alone, displacing millions from their homes. Having aligned itself with Islamic State in 2015, internal divisions and assaults by the Nigerian army have weakened the group's hold over north-eastern Nigeria, according to the Nigerian government. But the insurgency, and the fatalities continue.
In October last year, 21 of the girls were released, following two years of secret negotiations between the militants, the Red Cross and the Swiss government. One claimed that some of the girls had been killed.
The other 195 are still missing.
Sara, who has resumed her schooling and aspires to be a medical doctor, told the Global Education and Skills Forum, a conference funded by Indian billionaire and education philanthropist Sunny Varkey, she felt hopeful when she learnt of the girls' release.
"The day I got the news [of the girls being released] I was so happy and excited that at least some of them came back. But also sad at the same time, because why only 21 out of 219 that came back?
"When I saw the first pictures of their faces, they looked troubled, trauma, and different from the way they were at school. They had babies.
"But also the day I saw a video of them dancing and singing with their parents I was so excited, the smile on their faces gave me hope.
"It really happened, [I am] reminding the world that these girls they didn't come back."
In January, as the girls' families marked 1000 days since their abduction, Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari said he remained committed to ensuring the abducted schoolgirls were reunited with their families "as soon as practicable".
"We are hopeful that many more will still return," he said.
The writer travelled to Dubai as a guest of the conference.