Reblogged from http://www.hopeislife.org
In the town of Esit Eket, on the southern edge of West Africa, in Nigeria, hundreds of children are abused, poisoned and chained to trees, or simple beaten or chased into the bush by their own parents. These children are accused of being plagued by witchcraft, which is seen to cause anything from disease to divorce. Sam Ikpe-Itauma has now opened his small cottage to house nearly 130 children whom he has rescued from the streets. The children are now attending a school at the Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network shelter. The conditions at the school are currently extremely basic. Hope is Life Foundation is now collaborating with Stepping Stones Nigeria in their effort to provide learning skills that they will need to successfully integrate back into the wider society in the years to come.
According to The Guardian Weekly newspaper, “Almost everyone goes to church. In the town of Esit Eket signs advertise a church for every third or fourth house. Pastors make a living by “deliverances” – exorcisms – for people beset by witchcraft, which is seen to cause anything from disease to divorce. It’s a competitive market, but by local standards a lucrative one. And it has grown into something highly sinister as preachers are naming children as witches. In a maddened state of terror, parents and villages turn on a child. They are burned, poisoned, slashed, chained to trees, buried alive or simply beaten and chased into the bush.”
The Story of Mary Sudnad, 10:
“My younger brother died. The pastor told my mother it was because I was a witch. Three men came to my house. I didn’t know these men. My mother left the house. Left these men. They beat me. “ She pushes her fists under her chin to show how her father lay, stretched out on his stomach on the floor of their hut, watching. After the beating there was a trip to the church for a “deliverance.”
A day later her mother forced a draught of poisonous berries down Mary’s throat. If that didn’t kill her, her mother warned her, then it would be a barbed–wire hanging. Finally her mother threw boiling water and caustic soda over her head and body and her father dumped his screaming daughter in a field.” She was seven at that time. Mary was picked up by Sam Ikpe and now lives in at the Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network, a big name for a small refugee center for children. Sam Ikpe’s wife, Elizabeth acts as a nurse for the injured children.
The Story of Ekemini Abia, 13:
Ekemini has the look of someone in a deep state of shock. Both ankles are circled with gruesome wounds and she moves at a painful hobble. Named as a witch, her father and church elders tied her to a tree, the rope cutting her to the bone, and left the 13-year old alone for more than a week. She now lives at the Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network house.
Sam Ikpe estimates about 5,000 children have been abandoned in this area since 1998 and says many bodies have turned up.
Hope is Life Foundation is partnering with Stepping Stone Nigeria, an NGO which is working very hard to provide access to education for disadvantaged children and trying to eradicate illiteracy. Stepping Stones Nigeria and Hope is Life Foundation share a number of similar aims and objectives.
Hope is Life Foundation worked with Stepping Stones Nigeria to enhance the education and welfare of the children at the Network Center. As an initial step, Hope is Life Foundation helped built a library at the school at the Network Center, where Ekemini and hundreds of children who were abused by their parents and church elders attend classes. The conditions at the school are currently poor and extremely basic and would benefit massively from the library. This would significantly improve the chances of the children at the shelter learning the skills that they will need to successfully reintegrate back into the wider society in the years to come. Stepping Stone Nigeria is a small charity run by volunteers and the Program Director is Gary Foxcroft.
They need all the support we can give to meet the needs of all of the children in their care and challenge the terrible belief in child “witches.”
(story reported by Tracy McVeigh for The Guardian Weekly)