A series of disturbing photos have emerged online showing the moment that Anja Ringgren Lovén, a Danish charity worker living in Nigeria, rescued a starving, severely emaciated, and naked two-year-old Nigerian child abandoned by his family because they believed he was a “witch.”
According to Lovén — founder of the African Children’s Aid Education and Development Foundation — in a post to her charity’s Facebook page, she discovered the little boy wandering the streets, starving, infested heavily with worms and dying on January 31, 2016.
She named him Hope.
“I have chosen to call the boy Hope for right now, we all hope that he survives,” she wrote in an update to her charity’s Facebook page.
Hope had been wandering the streets for eight months, surviving on scraps of food thrown to him by passersby before Loven found him.
Distressing photos uploaded to Facebook that have gone viral online show the moment on January 31 that Ms Lovén rescued the starving and sickly boy found wandering the streets of Uyo in southern Nigeria after his family reportedly refused to care for him. He was also shunned by the community and left to starve after he was accused of being a “witch.”
The photo shows Lovén giving the starving child a drink of water from a plastic bottle. She then wrapped his emaciated body in a blanket and took him to the hospital.
In a subsequent update to her Facebook page, Loven said the boy’s condition improved greatly after two days of intensive care at the hospital. Doctors found he was heavily infested with worms and severely malnourished. But he began making a fast recovery after receiving medicines to expel the worms. He was also receiving transfusions of blood to replenish depleted red blood cells, Loven said.
She was optimistic that Hope would soon be well and strong enough to run around with other children at her orphanage in Uyo.
“I have chosen to call the boy Hope for right now, we all hope that he survives.”
“Hope’s condition is stable now. He’s taking food for himself and he responds to the medicine he gets,” she wrote in a another update accompanied by photos of the little boy being fed. “Today, he has had power to sit up and [is] smiling at us. He’s a strong little boy.”
“I just don’t know how to describe it in words. This is what makes life so beautiful and valuable and therefore I will let the pictures speak for themselves,” she concluded.
Loven says that since Hope’s case became known to the world, she has been able to raise about one million Danish Krone — $150,000 — from sympathizers around the world.
“With all the money, we can, besides giving Hope the very best treatment, now also build a doctor clinic on the new land and save many more children out of torture,” she said.
“Hope’s condition is stable now. He’s taking food for himself and he responds to the medicine he gets.”
Loven set up her children’s charity three years ago to rescue helpless Nigerian children accused falsely of being “witches.” Her orphanage pays for the children’s medical care, food, clothing and education.
She said children being accused of “witchcraft” was rampant in Uyo, in the oil producing south-south state of Akwa Ibom in Nigeria.
Children accused of witchcraft are ostracized by their communities and may die due to neglect, she said.
Loven and her husband, David Emmanuel Umem, have begun building an orphanage in Uyo with donations received from sympathizers around the world.
“I’ve seen much here in Nigeria over the last 3 years. I have spared you many experiences when we’ve been on the rescue operations,” she told her Facebook followers. “Thousands of children are being accused of being witches and we’ve both seen torture of children, dead children and frightened children. This footage shows why I fight; why I sold everything I own. Why I’m moving out in uncharted territory.”
[Photo by Sunday Alamba/AP]