His story made headlines all around the world. And it is one of the saddest you’ll ever hear. When care worker Anja Loven was walking through the streets of south-east Nigeria she spotted a heartbreaking sight.
WARNING: Please be advised that the content below might be a bit graphic for audiences.
A naked toddler who was emaciated, covered in dust, walking the streets alone, and barely able to stand.
Anja decided she would call him Hope and save his life. She later found out that the boy had been abandoned by his parents because he was a “witch.” The baby had miraculously survived for eight months on the streets by himself.
“I was so sick to my bones to see a two-year-old boy in such a horrible condition.When we first entered the village I looked over my shoulders and slowly turned around to see Hope sitting on the side of the road,” Anja told Daily Mail. “I thought I was going to see a bigger boy but when I saw he was the size of a little baby, my whole body froze. I became a mother myself 20 months ago and I was thinking of my own son when I saw Hope.”
Anja took him to the nearest hospital and found that he was riddled with disease and needed medication to rid him of worms. He also needed blood transfusions.
“He got the best treatment we could give him, and every day my team and I was hoping that he would survive…” Anja said. “Very quickly we discovered that Hope was a very strong boy. A little fighter.”
And he had to be in order to survive being branded as a “witch.”
“Once a child has been accused of being a witch, there is no turning back,” Anja explained. “Villagers will call for the child to be exorcised nightly by a local priest to rid him his evil spirits. Or the parents will bring the child to a witch doctor, who also has “magical powers” to exorcise the witch. In Hope’s case, we have little information about his parents and why they accused him of witchcraft.”
Apparently, accusations of witchcraft is a growing issue in Nigeria which is why Anja started the DINNødhjælp, an organization to help children accused of being witches.
Now thanks to more than 1 million in donations, Hope is healthy, happy, and going to school and Anja’s organization can help other children just like him. The two recreated the photo of when they first met in order to celebrate Hope’s first day of school. Little Hope looks like a completely different child thanks to Anja’s intervention.
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You can learn more about her organization at dinnoedhjaelp.dk/en/
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