In a world filled with horror stories and fake news, this little Nigerian boy will put a smile on your face. A boy who was abandoned by his parents for supposedly having black magic is now smiling and laughing during his first day of school.
In January 2016, a Nigerian child made headlines for being left to starve to death by his parents who believed he was a witch. The boy was found by a Dutch charity organization worker, Anja Ringgren Loven, who was so overwhelmed by his horror story that she decided to take action.
Loven states, “Thousands of children are being accused of being witches and we’ve both seen torture of children, dead children and frightened children.”
Loven and her organization, DINNødhjælp, travel to Nigeria to help children who are labeled as witches and black magic doers. Families in Nigeria are accused by the government for practicing magic, forcing parents to leave their children to escape persecution. These children are sometimes tortured or even killed by their parents, but the Dutch organization is fighting against these atrocities.
The superstition of witch children in Nigeria is not a recent event, but has become extremely problematic in the last 50 years. Churches in Nigeria, specifically newly reformed independent churches in the Cross River State, proudly and passionately believe in ridding their country of witches and black magic.
The Nigerian boy, named Hope, was taken to the Dutch charity’s orphanage after he was treated for severe malnutrition and stomach worms. Hope today is living under the care of the charity, but is barely recognizable.
A year later Hope has gained weight, been treated for all of his ailments and recently began his education through charitable efforts. The child was photographed smiling in the arms of Loven before he took his first steps into school.
Loven stated to her Facebook followers, “All children have rights and those rights must be protected, always.” She also discussed Hope’s recovery, saying, “This is what makes life so beautiful and valuable and therefore I will let the pictures speak for themselves.”
The transformation and new found health of Hope proves that there is nothing genetically wrong with these children, besides the neglect of their parents. The superstition behind “witch” children can be inherently damaging to children who would be otherwise exceptionally healthy.
The Dutch organization also tries to emphasize that witch hunting and abandoning children is not just a “Nigerian” thing. Many countries, even the United States and other European countries have “witch hunts,” which leave children alone and in danger.
The organization states that cases like Hope are not uncommon, and are bound to happen again. The only way these children can be helped is through helping impoverished nations, such as Nigeria and other African countries. By spreading Hope’s journey, his “witch” status changes and he becomes just a happy little boy.
Within just a year, Hope is now jumping, playing, and looking healthier than ever. This story proves that with charitable efforts and with people like Loven, children in Africa can be saved.