Hope, a young boy from Nigeria, experienced a remarkable transformation after enduring a harrowing start to life. Abandoned by his parents and community, who unjustly labeled him a witch, Hope was found in a desperate state on the streets. But his life took a dramatic turn for the better after he was adopted by a charity.
In early 2016, a heart-wrenching image surfaced on social media, depicting a frail, unclothed two-year-old Nigerian boy receiving food and water from Anja Ringgren Lovén, a Danish philanthropist and the founder of the charity organization DINNødhjælp. The boy, named Hope, had been cast out by his family and community.
Anja recalls the dire state Hope was in when they found him. He was extremely undernourished and battling numerous illnesses. During the initial two weeks of his hospitalization, his condition was critical, and his survival seemed uncertain.
Hope was subsequently brought into the care of Anja’s charity, which has supported hundreds of neglected children over the years. Four years since being rescued, Hope has undergone an incredible transformation.
“Hope is now in excellent health and loves attending school. He’s particularly talented in the arts and shows a remarkable aptitude for drawing. His artwork, which we often liken to Picasso’s, has even been sold,” Anja stated.
Since joining DINNødhjælp, Hope has had no contact with his biological parents, and the organization has been unable to locate any of his relatives. Despite his traumatic past, Hope now looks back at the photo from when Anja found him with a sense of happiness.
“Hope often points to the photo and smiles. It seems like pride, but I believe it’s more about his innate capacity for forgiveness and lack of prejudice,” Anja, who is now an ambassador for the Universal Peace Federation International, observed. “We’ve raised Hope without any bitterness towards his parents who abandoned him, accusing him of witchcraft and leaving him to perish.”
Anja highlighted that accusations of witchcraft are often rooted in misfortunes like illness, crop failure, or financial struggles, leading to children being unjustly blamed and ostracized.
Under Anja and her team’s care, more than 300 children have been nurtured, with 76 currently residing at DINNødhjælp, the largest children’s center in West Africa. These include young girls who have endured extreme forms of abuse and neglect.
Anja firmly believes in the power of education as a tool to combat ignorance and foster societal change. “To tackle such issues, we need empathy and dialogue, not judgment. Our approach is professional, focusing on changing mindsets and raising awareness through advocacy in rural communities,” she shared.