Nigerian toddler saved after being shunned by community who thought he was a witch

Kamilia Palu

The heart-wrenching story behind confronting photos showing a two-year-old Nigerian boy being fed water by a volunteer has emerged.

The boy had reportedly been shunned by his community, who accused him of being a witch.

Charity worker Anja Loven came across the disoriented child wandering the streets, reportedly living off any scraps of food that he could find.

His limbs were stick-thin from starvation and his belly bloated due to worms.

2-year-old Hope was rescued from starvation in Nigeria two weeks ago. Photo: Anja Loven

As soon as she saw him, Ms Loven stopped to feed the toddler and let him drink from her water bottle.

She took the sick child to a nearby hospital, where he was given medication and blood transfusions to increase his red blood cell count, the Daily Mail reported.

Ms Loven, a Danish national, founded the African Children's Aid Education and Development Foundation three years ago and specifically aims to help ‘witch children’, kids that have been neglected, tortured and even killed by members of their own community, believing they are witches.

The neglected child was bathed, fed and hospitalised after he was found on January 31st. Photo: Anja Loven

She named the sick child Hope and just two weeks after rescuing him she said his condition is now stable.

“Hope is getting so much better. Already gaining a lot of weight and looking so much more healthy,” she wrote on her Facebook page.

“Now we only need him to talk. But that will come naturally when he is out of the hospital and starting his life among all our children.

“Children become stronger together.”

After two weeks, Ms Loven said that Hope is 'getting so much better'. Photo: Anja Loven

Sharing the confronting pictures on social media, Ms Loven said she "didn’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 wrote.

The images made a lasting impact on many Facebook users who expressed their emotions online.

“I will never ever forget this picture… My heart is broken. Thank god for you Anja,” one woman wrote.

Anja has shared Hope's journey on her social media account, gaining support from hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. Photo: Anja Loven

“I can't stop crying, how can anybody do something awful to a child!” another said.

She shared the photographs of Hope’s journey to her Facebook page this month appealing for help from the public.

In just two days, more than $1 million had been raised.

Anja's own 18-month-old baby plays with Hope on a regular basis. Photo: Anja Loven

She is now building a doctor’s clinic with a portion of the money to help save more children in Nigeria.

Ms Loven has her own 18-month-old son, who plays with Hope regularly.


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