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Starving Boy Abandoned For 'Being A Witch' Undergoes Incredible Transformation

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Starving Boy Abandoned For 'Being A Witch' Undergoes Incredible Transformation

Life has certainly changed for the boy whose photograph went viral, after he was abandoned on the streets of Nigeria for being a witch.

The now-famous image was taken in January 2016 and it shows charity worker Anja Ringgren Lovén kneeling down to give the severely malnourished toddler water.

The young boy, who was named Hope, survived his traumatic past and is now thriving. Although his exact age is unknown, doctors believe him to be around six or seven, meaning he could have been as young as three years old when he was abandoned on the streets.

Credit: Jam Press
Credit: Jam Press
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"Hope was in a terrible condition when we rescued him," said Anja, founder of non-profit organisation Land of Hope.

"He was seriously malnourished and had multiple diseases and the first two weeks he was hospitalised he was in a critical condition.

"We didn't know if he would survive or not."

Over four years, Hope was given love, care and a proper education by staff at the organisation, and his life has undergone an incredible transformation.

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Anja said: "Hope is very healthy and loves to go to school. He is very intelligent and his passion is art and to be creative.

Credit: Jam Press
Credit: Jam Press

"He is extremely talented at art and many of his paintings have even been sold. We call him our little Picasso."

Hope has never met his parents and the organisation has been unable to track down any of his relatives.

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Despite his grim start in life, the young boy is able to look at his viral photo with a smile from time to time.

"He will often point at it and smile as if he is proud," said Anja, who is also an ambassador for the Universal Peace Federation International.

"But I know it's not about pride. Children are born with the ability to forgive.

Credit: Jam Press
Credit: Jam Press
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"Children are born with no prejudices. It is when children are taught what to think and not how to think, we fail as a society.

"Do we raise Hope to hate his parents that abandoned him, accused him of being a witch and left him alone on the street to die? No, of course not.

"Superstition is caused by a lack of structural education, extreme poverty, religious fanaticism and corruption.

"No society can develop if its people are deprived of basic human rights such as access to education, health care, and social protection."

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In some cultures, accusations of witchcraft follow misfortunes such as death or illness in the family, crop failures, employment problems or infertility - children are in turn made into scapegoats and branded as witches.

They are then typically treated like outcasts by members of their village.

Anja and her team have rescued more than 300 children and she currently cares for 76 kids in the largest children's centre in West Africa. Among those are girls as young as nine who have been tortured, sexually abused and even buried alive before escaping their horrific fates.

Credit: Jam Press
Credit: Jam Press

She added: "Education is the most powerful investment in a society and the greatest weapon against ignorance.

"To solve a problem you need human interaction and communication. Not judgment.

"We are very professional in our work. We need to help the villagers and change their mindset.

"We enlighten the villagers through advocacy programs in rural areas."

Featured Image Credit: Jam Press

Topics: World News, Inspirational

Amelia Ward
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