A mixture of a day today. We spent the morning visiting the OCPR, one of the main partners of Save the Children here in Kinshasa. They operate five centres around the town, all dealing with the street kids – some of the m open centres for children to drop by, some of them residential to look after children and to try to reunite them with their families. They say that around 70% of street children are out of their homes because of witch craft allegations.
I asked the heads of the centres to tell me stories about children that had particularly affected them and we heard several, including what must be the worst case so far. A little boy, aged about 8, whose hands and feet had been burned with hot iron by his aunt, until he was barely able to walk or use his hands at all. His mother had left the boy with his aunt to look after him while she was away on business. The centre took care of him. When his mother returned, she fainted to see the terrible damage that had been done to her boy.
This boy’s story was so all the sadder, because he seemed to have such a very loving nature. He had been convinced by his aunt that he was indeed a witch – she hated him so much, he explained, that was why he believed it himself. No one who loved a witch like him could be anything but a witch themselves.
The social worked asked him, Well, but what about me? I like you. Am I a witch too? Ah, no, replied the boy. When you pray for me, it makes me feel safe.
Sadly the boy died of his injuries after his parents took him away.
Fiona from Save the Children, asked how they deal with children who believe themselves to be witches? How do they approach this. The secret it seems, is to treat the children with love. Then after a while, the belief that they are witches simply falls away …
Love; always the best treatment for any child, witch or not.
After we went to visit one of the residential centres, for girls. We found a row of little girls, aged about 7 to 12, who insisted on putting on their best dresses for us. We had a story telling session; I told them stories, through the interpreter, and they told me some of their’s. I told them Red Riding Hood, the Sleeping Beauty and the Three Little Pigs. They told me three in exchange – a fair swop! One story about a woman who went to get meat from the pygmies, who then tried to eat her; another, a lovely Congolese version of Cinderella, Sandra and Sandrine; but in this version, the fairy godmother was the girls’ dead mother – and she was not always a pleasant person! And finally, the story of Pipi Danga, who didn’t listen to her mother and got trapped in a drum and was made to sing when the drum was beaten. The girl who told the story sang the song and danced the dance … Pipi Danga, oh, Pipi Danga. We recorded it. Maybe, later on, if I put some of these stories up on my website, you can hear it, too.
Mwara on Three Dogs melvinburgess on Stories from Inland http://tinyurl.com/p… on Stories from Inland Cary Watson on Manchester Central Library… Harry Warren on Manchester Central Library…