Godinterest reveals the story behind the heartbreaking image shared on social media almost one year ago of an aid worker photographed giving water to a severely emaciated child.
Anja Ringgren Lovén, the founder of the African Children’s Aid Education and Development Foundation (ACAEDF), received a phone call about a two to three-year-old boy who had been abandoned by his family. Anja Ringgren Lovén gave water to the child, but was accused of being a witch.
Toddler was found emaciated and riddled with worms by a charity worker
Anja said: “When we heard that the child was only two to three years old we did not hesitate as a child that young cannot survive a long time alone on the streets. We immediately prepared a rescue mission.”
Hope had to have a blood transfusion and be treated for worms, but is now in a stable condition and is being cared for by Anja. Hope is just one of many children who Anja has dedicated her life to helping. Four years ago, Anja decided to set up a charity in Nigeria to support children who had been accused of being witches – a casualty of Nigeria’s much larger superstition problem.
Hope was weak and in bad health when he was found
Anja said: “I travelled alone to Nigeria where I met children who had been abused and beaten almost to death because they were accused of witchcraft and therefore left alone to die. What I saw was barbaric and terrible and it left a deep impression on me. That’s why I decided to sell everything I owned in Denmark to devote my time and life to help ‘witch children’ in Nigeria. Anja and her partner, David now runs a children’s home for young people accused of witchcraft and have 34 children living in their care, all of whom have been accused of witchcraft.
Anja said: “When children are being tortured and abused and left alone on the street, it gives a child a lot of terrible trauma they carry around inside. Being rejected by your own family must be the worst feeling a child can experience, and I don’t believe that anyone can imagine how that must feel like. Education is the key in the fight against superstition.”
On Tuesday, January 31, having made a miraculous recovery, the now healthy-looking youngster set off to embark on his education in a strapping red outfit. And to celebrate the milestone, Loven re-created the iconic image of her, encouraging him to drink from a bottle of water.
Hope, two, from Nigeria, is ‘really enjoying life now’, his rescuer Anja said.
African Children’s Aid Education and Development Foundation (ACAEDF) works to ensure that all children in the southern Nigerian state of Akwa Ibom have the opportunity to go to school.