In a small village named Uyo, in South Nigeria, a 2-year-old boy is discovered who was emaciated, sickly, and hardly able to stand on his own. A Danish Aid worker named Anja Ringgren Loven, provides the boy with water as he drinks desperately from the bottle. He was left completely alone, shunned by his own family and community, and living on the streets accused of being a witch.
The practice of children being labeled as witches is not as unusual as you might expect. Even though it is now a criminal offense in Akwa Ibom state where the boy was found, it is still a practice that is fairly commonplace.
Sam Ikpe-Itauma, of the local Child’s Rights and Rehabilitation Network, told CNN, “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 the family.”
Anja Ringgren Loven, the worker who found the boy, “is the founder of African Children’s Aid Education and Development Foundation, which she created to rescue children labeled as witches.” She writes in an appeal for financial help on Facebook, “Thousands of children are being accused of being witches and we’ve both seen torture of children, dead children and frightened children.”
The young boy who was feeding himself from the scraps tossed to him by passersby, is now safe, and has been given a new name, “Hope,” along with a much brighter future. Despite his abuse, Loven says, “Hope is getting so much better. Already gaining a lot of weight and looking so much more healthy. Now we only need him to talk.
We will be praying for Hope with faith that he will be used in mighty ways for the Lord.