In Kinshasa (DRC), there are plenty of children called witch children. In local culture, witchcraft is a way to understand some bad events in the life, as death, disease, poverty… There cannot be problems without the will of somebody who wants to destroy your life and happiness. In the tradition, witches were always old, handicapped, or marginal people who could be jealous of the others. But in the actual context, there are no more the old people but the children who are called witch.
People in Kinshasa have too many problems: death, disease, no job, poverty, they receive the children of their extended family at home and they need to find somebody they call responsible of all their problems. This new way of thinking about witch is tied with new small churches, where the pastors think that they can make money with getting the children free of witch.
People have problems at home, they discover that a child is dreaming or has some physical or mental handicap, or has some special habits, then they directly say he is different, he is the witch who destroy the family, especially if he is the child of another woman or of another husband.
This way of thinking brings a lot of fear between people and even within a family.
Mostly, the children accused of witchcraft are excluded from the family, they are considered as a great danger, so it is better for the family that the child stay no more in the family. Many pastors say that they can help the families, then the families bring the children in the churches, and the children stay day and night for a long time in the churches; they are beaten, and suffer a lot of different tortures that they can admit that they are effectively witch. After days of torture, the pastor pray for them but the families don’t really accept that the child is no more a witch; they are still with fear, and the day, they find a problem at home, they declare that the child is back to its witch.
Our team have a whole program against this culture of witch children
We organize meetings to touch the population about this question; we try to meet the pastors to explain them the dangerous consequences of their work.
We receive the children in our centre, help them to recover their dignity and try to reconcile them with their family, then to bring them back to their family and to place them in schools (some become the first in their class and then the family forget that he was a witch!!) or teaching centres and to help the families with micro-credits to get a better income.