Sunday 25 June 2017

Care worker who rescued Nigerian boy described as 'witch' recreates photo for his first week of school

'It's exactly one year ago the world came to know a young little boy called Hope. This week Hope will start school'

Hope with care worker Anja Ringgren Lovén, on 30 January 2016 (left) and one year later (right), on his first day of school Anja Ringgren Lovén/Facebook
Hope with care worker Anja Ringgren Lovén, on 30 January 2016 (left) and one year later (right), on his first day of school Anja Ringgren Lovén/Facebook

Adam Withnall

A Danish aid worker who rescued a young boy who had been ostracised by his community in Nigeria says he has just completed his first week at school.

Anja Ringgren Loven marked the landmark in three-year-old Hope's life by recreating the image of her, encouraging him to drink from a bottle of water, which was shared around the world one year ago.

Ms Loven and her husband, David Emmanuel Umem, run an orphanage in south-east Nigeria for children who have been abandoned by their families as a result of superstitious beliefs, called the African Children’s Aid Education and Development Foundation (ACAEDF).

They took on and named then-two-year-old Hope on 30 January 2016, after he had been accused of being a witch. Hope was emaciated, riddled with worms and suffering hypospadias, “an inborn condition in which one has an incomplete developed urethra”, she says.

Writing on Facebook at the start of this week, Ms Loven said: "On the 30 January 2016, I went on a rescue mission with David Emmanuel Umem, Nsidibe Orok and our Nigerian team.

"A rescue mission that went viral, and today it's exactly one year ago the world came to know a young little boy called Hope.

"This week Hope will start school."

The post, contrasting the old and new images, has been shared more than 27,000 times.

Ms Loven was named "the most inspiring person of the year 2016" by Germany's Ooom Magazine at the end of last year, beating the likes of Pope Francis and Barack Obama to the title.

Georg Kindel, OOOM’s editor-in-chief, who led the jury that chose the list, said: “When she saw the starving child, she acted like a human being and became an inspiration for millions. Her sustained efforts to help the abandoned children of Nigeria gives us hope and encourages us to follow suit.” 

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