This starved Nigerian boy was naked, full of worms and walking the streets of Nigeria alone when he was found by Anja, a Danish rescue worker. The emaciated 2-year-old was abandoned by his family because they believed he was a witch.
“Thousands of children are being accused of being witches,” said Anja. In 2009, an estimated 15,000 children were reportedly accused of witchcraft in two of Nigeria’s 36 states over a decade. Around 1,000 of them had been murdered.
The little boy had been surviving the last eight months off of the mere scraps that strangers threw to him in the streets.
Anja immediately wrapped the boy (who she named Hope) in a blanket and rushed him to the local hospital. She chose to call him Hope because when she found him, in a village—naked, alone and almost dead—they were all hoping that he would survive.
Sadly, this is not the first time that the rescue worker has witnessed such a horrid case. “We’ve seen both frightened, tortured and even dead children,” Anja described in a blog post. A co-founder of African Children’s Aid Education and Development Foundation (ACAEDF), Anja is working to help more children who have been neglected and even killed by their families after being accused of witchcraft.
Her center offers food, medical attention and education for children like Hope.
Thankfully, after a daily blood transfusion, proper nourishment and medicine to remove the worms, Hope was able to make a remarkable recovery.
“This is what makes life so beautiful and valuable, and therefore I will let the pictures speak for themselves,” wrote Anja.
Just two weeks after he was found, Hope looked like a brand new boy! His once somber look of desperation was replaced with a smile from ear to ear!
Only two days after Anja petitioned for help for Hope, over $1 million in donations poured in from strangers across the globe.
“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 shared on Facebook.
Thanks to the love of strangers, Hope has been blessed beyond measure and given a chance to live, laugh and play the way any kid should.
In the year since Hope’s story first went viral, the little tike is one of 35 children in an orphanage run by Anja and her husband. Thanks to the thousands of people from around the world who donated money to the ACAEDF after learning Hope’s story, Anja was able to help open a doctor’s clinic to help more children who are accused and abandoned in the Nigerian region. The organization also bought a piece of land, called Land of Hope, which will be home to a new orphanage that protects other abandoned boys and girls.
This week, the healthy, happy three-year-old headed off to school for the first time.
Anja took to Facebook to reminisce on the day that she first met Hope just one year ago:
“On the 30 of January 2016 I went on a rescue mission with David Emmanuel Umem, Nsidibe Orok and our Nigerian team. A rescue mission that went viral, and today it’s exactly 1 year ago the world came to know a young little boy called Hope…This week Hope will start school.”
“As you can see Hope is growing with speed and he is such a handsome, healthy and very happy young boy because of the tremendous love and care he receives every day from our staff and all our children,” Anja said. “Where there is love there is hope.”
We can’t turn around all the evil in the world, but one life at a time, each of us can make a profound difference. Who will be your Hope today?