What is typical
for the children
The majority of the children accessing the services at the CRARN children’s shelter are orphans of one or both parents. Typically the surviving parent remarries and the incumbent spouse brands the child as a “witch” or “wizard” and casts them out onto the street (their stories). They have often spent much time living on the streets before they were rescued to the centre. Most children have suffered some severe violations of their right’s, either on the streets or at the hands of pastors, parents, neighbors and members of the public.
This includes horrible beatings with machetes, rods, horsewhips, burning parts of the body with fire to elicit confessions or hanging on the roofs. Some children show scars of fire, hot water burns, finger chopped off or mutilated bodies. Some children have told volunteers how they were chained in churches, denied food for days, even hung on roofs and allowed to dangle for hours, while receiving beatings from the step-parents, step siblings and other adults. All to extract confessions.
This process is a generalization of a much more unique and complex process we experiences in CRARN Center.
What CRARN does
CRARN supports children with access to medical care, education and giving them nutrition and love. Children have come to realize that they were never witches or wizards. They feel comfortable to enlighten others, who have the belief in witchcraft. Some of the children believe they will be enlightenment ambassadors in the future to help crape the deeply held belief in witchcraft.
Getting the bigger picture
A report by UNICEF in collaboration with CRARN has shown, that the belief in child “witches” cuts across all facets of society – the literate and illiterate, the wealthy and poor, the law enforcement agents, social welfare workers, law makers and most specifically the leaders of revivalist Pentecostal churches. Such people believe that a mysterious, spiritual spell is given to a child through fruits, food or drinks. Witchcraft spells could also be given to a child in spirit form while asleep. The child who eats this spell, is then called out in the night where his soul will depart the body to be initiated in a coven, a place where witches and wizards are believed to be gathered. The initiated child will then have the spiritual power to bring about untold destruction, including killing uninitiated people and causing diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, hepatitis, typhoid and cancer. Cases like drunkenness, madness, smoking of marijuana, divorce, infertility, accidents and misfortunes are perceived to be the handiwork of these child “witches” and “wizards” or the elderly witches. It is believed that in recent times, children have become the target for initiation by elderly witches as they are more proactive and susceptible to their spells and are quicker in destructive action. This belief is boosted and cultivated by many pastors in the local churches. This superstition is deeply ingrained in the minds of more than 95% of the people. Those who help, rescue or support the witch branded are believed to have superior power that could ward off any charm or spell.