On January 30, 2016, Danish aid worker Anja Ringgren Lovén was photographed giving water to a severely emaciated 2-year-old boy, whom she rescued after he was branded a witch by his family and left to starve to death in Akwa Ibom.
The boy had wandered the streets for months when Anja got a phone call and immediately led a rescue team including her husband David Emmanuel Umem, to bring the child to the Children’s Education and Development Foundation (ACAEDF) aka “Land of Hope”
Taking to her Facebook page on Tuesday, September 5, 2023, Lovén revealed that Hope finally met his mother.
According to the aid worker, Hope’s mother, then a minor, was impregnated by his father, an almost 50 year old Village Head, who chose her as a ‘wife’. She gave birth to Hope at the age of 15.
Lovén said the entire story involves rape, child labor and abuse, adding that she cannot reveal all the details.
She also didn’t reveal circumstances that led to the boy being branded a witch and abandoned.
Read her post below:
David Emmanuel Umem and I finally found Hope´s mother !!,” she wrote.
I knew in my heart that someday we would find her – now we have!
Earlier this year while David and I were filming the new documentary “Woman at the End of the World” our years of search finally ended.
Millions of people in Poland have already witnessed the moment Hope sees his mother for the first time and it left them all in tears.
I have known David for more than a decade and only seen him cry one time.
When I picked up Hope to take him to see his mother who were waiting for him under our mango tree I saw David cry for the second time.
Word´s cannot express the emotions that overwhelmed us in that moment.
Hope´s mother was only 15 years old when she gave birth to Hope. She was still a child herself
Hope´s father was at that time nearly 50 years old and he was the Village Head. Definitely not an equal relationship. Unfortunately it is very common for men in the rural communities to take any young girl they want to be their wife
While being pregnant Hope´s mother had to take care of her parents who both were very sick. After giving birth to Hope they both died
At the age of 15 years old, Hope´s mother lost her parents and had to take care of Hope being a child herself.
She named her baby Steven. Hope´s real name is Steven.
Hope´s mother has stayed at Land of Hope and developed a close bond with Hope. It took him some time to forgive her but in Hope´s story his mother is innocent. She never left him in the village to die
She was forced to leave the village when she got pregnant with Hope´s younger brother Daniel at the age of only 16 years old. She was send to Lagos and this entire story involves rape, child labor and abuse and I can therefore not reveal all the details.
What´s important is that Hope and his mother are reunited. Ps: When I was pregnant with our son, David suggested we name him Steven.