Danish aid worker, Anja Ringgren Loven has taken to her Facebook page to celebrate a boy she and her husband rescued in Akwa Ibom after being branded a witch and driven away by his family.
When the young boy, Ernest, was rescued almost 5 years ago, he didn’t speak English. Neither could he read nor write.
On Monday, he took the second position out of 50 students in his class.
Sharing a harrowing story of the young boy, Anja revealed how Ernest slept inside the bushes for two years to escape being killed by witch-hunters. During this painful period, he met a 9-year-old boy also accused of being a witch.
His story below :
Back in 2015, a year after Ernest was rescued, I sat down with him one evening to learn more about how he managed to survive.
Ernest was accused of being a witch and such accusation will not let a child stay alive for very long. For 2 years Ernest slept inside bushes to hide himself. His body was covered in mosquito bites every night but he had to accept it or else he would risk being killed.
While struggling to survive Ernest met another young boy, also accused of being a witch. The two boys became friends and during the day they would look for small jobs to earn a little money. Ernest told me that it gave him a little sense of protection to have a friend. Together they helped each other to stay alive.
But one night while the boys were sleeping inside the bushes they were caught by a group of men. The men dragged the boys by their legs out of the bushes. Ernest and his friend were screaming and fought to get away. Ernest managed to get free and ran to hide in a bush. His friend was not that lucky.
While hiding in the bush Ernest could see how his friend was screaming and crying while the men tied a robe around his neck. The other end of the rope was tied to a car. His friend did not die immediately. He fought for his life trying to breathe while the car dragged him around. But within a few minutes he had to give up. He died slowly in fear. He was only 9 years old.
Ernest witness everything.
Ernest was now alone again. He felt guilty of not being able to protect his friend. One night he woke up in pain. The men were back. They had set fire to Ernest leg. The men tried to burn him alive while he was sleeping. Once again Ernest escaped.
I cannot even begin to imagine how such horrors must feel like for a young boy. Not only the fear and the struggle to survive, but the loneliness of being unwanted must be the worse feeling for us as humans. A feeling worse than death.
This year David and our Education Officers Don Udowan, Edidiong and Mr. Bassey together with our Director of Child Development Nsidibe Orok decided to change Ernest to a high standard school with highly intelligent students for him to get more competition.
To even get admitted to such high standard school one must have to be subjected to a very difficult exam where only a very few number of students will be admitted by the end of the day. Ernest took the exam and got a very high score and was admitted. We were all very excited.
Due to some administrative procedures Ernest started the new school 3 weeks later than the rest of the students. So Ernest missed out of 3 weeks and had to use many nights to study to keep up with his class mates. It was a tough start for him at a very competitive school with very intelligent students.
Last week was the end of the first term and Ernest got his result. We were all very surprised. We never expected Ernest to take a top position because the school is so highly competitive, but Ernest came home with second position out of 50 students in his class !!!
This is the best Christmas gift ever. One that money cannot buy.