Hope, a young Nigerian boy who was once abandoned and considered a witch, has undergone a remarkable transformation after being adopted by a charity, flourishing in health and displaying a talent for the arts over the course of four years.
In early 2016, a heart-wrenching photo circulated on social media, depicting a malnourished toddler named Hope being cared for by Anja Ringgren Lovén, a Danish volunteer and founder of the charity DINNødhjæl. Abandoned by his family and villagers due to accusations of witchcraft, Hope became a symbol of resilience.
“When we rescued him, Hope’s condition was terrible. He was severely malnourished and suffered from many diseases. The first two weeks of his hospital stay, he was in critical condition. We didn’t even have a chance to see him. I don’t know if I can survive,” recounted Anja.
“Hope is very healthy now and enjoys going to school. He is very smart, and his passion is art. Hope is really gifted at drawing, and many of his paintings are sold. We call him the little Picasso,” added Anja.
Despite the positive changes, Hope has not reunited with his parents, and efforts to contact relatives have been unsuccessful. Anja, now an ambassador for Universal Peace Federation International, emphasizes the importance of addressing fundamental human rights, such as education and healthcare, to build a thriving society.
Anja and her team have provided care for over 300 children, including 76 at DINNødhjæl, West Africa’s largest children’s center. Among them are young girls who have endured torture, sexual abuse, and even burial alive.
“Education is the most powerful investment in society and the most powerful weapon against ignorance. To solve a problem, you need human interaction and communication, not human judgment. We are professional in the way we work. We need to help people change their minds and enlighten them through advocacy programs in rural areas,” shared Anja.