Care worker Anja Loven was walking through south-east Nigeria a few years ago when she saw something she’ll never forget. There, sitting down on the ride of the road was an incredibly emaciated toddler who looked as if he was right at death’s door. Incredibly, the little boy had survived on the streets for eight months after being abandoned by his parents, who believed he was a “witch.”
“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,” Loven 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.”
Even more heartbreaking was the fact that nobody around the boy would even give him a second glance, let alone any food or water.
“Once a child has been accused of being a witch, there is no turning back,” Loven 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.”
Fortunately, Loven was there to save the little boy she named Hope. She took him to a hospital that day, where he was given medication to get rid of the worms in his stomach. He also received daily blood transfusions. “Very quickly we discovered that Hope was a very strong boy. A little fighter,” Loved added.
In fact, Hope looked like a different child a year after being rescued. Now he’s a healthy, happy little boy who enjoys going to school. He’s come a far way since that fateful day a kind woman offered him a drink of water.
Since then, Loven has started an organization called DINNødhjælp, whose primary mission is to fight for children’s rights and help children in Nigeria who, like Hope, are accused of witchcraft. You can help save more children by donating here.