Danish aid worker Anja Ringgren Loven says the boy, whom she calls Hope, had been living on the streets and survived on scraps from passersby – CNN
Anja is the founder of African Children’s Aid Education and Development Foundation, which is dedicated to the rescue of children who are accused as witches and ostracized from their families and communities. On the 12th of February, as the world was few days to officially celebrate love, Anja came to the aid of a 2-year old Nigerian boy who had lived in the streets for eight months.
Lets just say it takes a witch to know a witch; else how did they know Hope was one? This will not be far from the same old over-religious and superstitious culture of some Africans. Findings have it that many children in Akwa-Ibom have suffered this fate, ostracized by their families and in some other brutal cases, killed. Sometime ago, a popular christian Nigerian movie maker, Apostle Helen Ukpabio was deported and banned from Europe for this same reason- calling children with certain tendencies, witches.
Even Christianity preaches love for enemies. Catholic television (EWTN) pioneer, Mother Angelica, says ” Love is what the Lord asks of us. If we must love even our enemies, imagine how we are expected to love our family members”. Unfortunately the reverse is the case here.
Don’t be surprised if there are many more cases of outrageous assumptions as this. In a place like Nigeria where there is proliferation of churches and miracle-working centres everywhere, every roadside “pastor” is a visionary. These are the group of people most popular with identifying the “witches” in families. Since the identity of the boy’s family is not known, I hope their belief system has a justifiable reason for their actions.
“Thousands of children are being accused of being witches and we’ve both seen torture of children, dead children and frightened children,”- Anja
It is quite a relief to know that this act which is seemingly normal in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state of Nigeria is criminal and illegal. Taking official cognizance of this common callous practice in the South-east region of Nigeria, Sam Ikpe-Itauma, of the local Child’s Rights and Rehabilitation Network also rescues children who face such similar situations and conducts de-sensitization programs to that effect.
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“Once a child is said to be a witch, to be possessed with a certain spiritual spell capable of making that child transform into, like, cat, snake viper … a child could cause all sorts of havoc like killing of people, bringing about diseases, misfortune into family.”- Sam
Summarizing the sad situation, Sam says that “poverty is actually a twin sister to ignorance.”
If only the parents and family of these children know what some people go through just to have one child… and here they are given but “unfortunately” according to whatever reason which I hope will be worth it, are abandoned in the streets (to obviously die since there is little or nothing they can do for themselves at that age).
This is no different from the barbaric practices of old- killing of twins, burying people alive or accompanying dead royalties with the heads of able-bodied lads and young girls. This is really sad, that this will happen at this age and time. Why are we doing this? Is it not funny that we need foreigners to step into African situations before we begin to value what we have.
Thank goodness for the likes of Anja; after a few days, she shared improvements in resuscitating hope (while anticipating her to talk) on social media. HOPE, as re-named by Anja has undergone blood transfusions and several medical procedures which have turned out positive. Soliciting for funds on Facebook, Hope’s story has generated £104,000 for her medical bills and education.