The founder of Nigeria-based Non-Governmental-Organization, Land of Hope, Anja Ringgren Lovén, commemorated eight years since the NGO rescued a child, Destiny, to protect him from neglect and abuse from his family. The family accused the boy of being a witch, and his mother and the entire community abandoned him.
Anja believes he would not have survived for long if they had not rescued him. She reasoned that when they found Destiny, he was weak from severe abuse and neglect. To this end, Anja noted that When we save a child, we report the case to the authorities. We work closely with the police and The Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Social Welfare.
She stated that all cases get investigated, sometimes leading to police arrests. Destiny’s mother was arrested for abandonment and went to jail. She spent a long time serving in prison and reached out to us when she was released. Here, the founder of Land of Hope asserted that it is easy to judge Destiny’s mother for abandoning her son. However, judging others makes us blind if we don’t see the whole picture.
She clarified that Nigerian women’s lives are affected by many discriminatory traditional and socio-cultural practices, while the biggest institution in Nigeria is the church. Lack of education leads to limited knowledge about illnesses, which, coupled with strong cultural beliefs, prompts people to search for superstitious answers.
And pastors are richer than ever because superstition, the practice of exorcism and black magic is a very profitable business. So if we are to blame someone, it is the religious leaders who take advantage of their people living in extreme poverty! And women remain at the bottom of the hierarchy.
Anja explained in her Facebook post that since her release from prison, Destiny and his mother have been talking on the phone for some years and in January, she came to visit Destiny at Land of Hope. They had not seen each other for almost eight years!
I captured the moment when Destiny saw his mother for the first time in 8 years. He was very excited and extremely happy to see his mother again. I sat with her while we watched Destiny play football. I could tell she was proud of him. Destiny was proud to show his mother his football skills.
With this, Anja observed that children are born with the ability to forgive, forget, and move on; as adults, we tend to hold on to anger and resentment.