A starving child who was accused of witchcraft and abandoned by his family has made an astonishing recovery after being rescued by a humanitarian aid worker.
Heartbreaking images were shared on social media two months ago of the Nigerian toddler, named Hope, who was found severely emaciated and wandering alone after being shunned by his family and society.
Now Hope, who is believed to be between two and three years old, is unrecognisable in pictures shared by Anja Ringgren Lovén, the founder of the African Children’s Aid Education and Development Foundation (ACAEDF).
Hope is one of those children and is “really enjoying life now”, Lovén wrote on Facebook.
Lovén said: “As you can see on the pictures Hope is really enjoying his life now having 35 new brothers and sisters who all take such good care of him, play with him, study with him, and make sure he is safe and is getting a lot of love.”
Lovén added that Hope will be having surgery next week after doctors found that he had an inborn condition called Hypospadias, a birth defect of the urethra.
She said: “This is an operation the doctors have performed many times, so Hope will be very fine.”
Lovén told the Huffington Post UK in February: “I travelled alone to Nigeria where I met children who had been tortured and beaten almost to death because they were accused of being witches and therefore left alone on the street.
“What I saw were so barbaric and terrible and it left a deep impression on me.”
With her partner, David, Anja now runs a children’s home for young people accused of witchcraft.
The couple, who have a two-year-old son together, look after more than 30 children, all of whom have been accused of witchcraft.
Anja said: “When children are being tortured and abused and left alone on the street, it gives a child a lot of terrible trauma they carry around inside.
“Being rejected by your own family must be the loneliest feeling a child can experience, and I don’t believe that anyone can imagine how that must feel like.”
Hope’s story has sparked a huge campaign on social media called ‘One Word To One World’, whereby people post photos of themselves holding a ‘Hope’ sign.
The campaign is not only meant for Hope, but is designed to be “a greeting to all children in the world with a hope that they will live a safe and meaningful life full of love, joy and happiness”.
A message from the campaign reads: “This is a strong message to the whole world that we stand for human rights and children’s rights.”