Frontline Stories

Away from the fate of children sacrifice in Uganda

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How far could someone have gone to gain one’s benefits, at the expense of others, who are often innocent children?

In Uganda, hundreds of children are kidnapped and murdered each year due to the thriving human sacrifice business. The practice of ritual child sacrifice are carried out by witch doctors who tell community members that child sacrifice is a solution to social and economic issues. People suffering from all kinds of diseases, including ulcer, back pain and infertility, believe that witch doctors can use children's head, fingers, tongue or reproductive organs to make medicine to cure them. Those who want to make big money would take the potions mixed with children's organs.

As a result, children often become victims of this traditional malpractice, especially those who lack family care. The practice of child sacrifice was terrorizing the community. It caused a climate of fear that resulted in families keeping children out of school and locked in homes.

Kanani is a child sacrifice survivor. He says, “He held me. He strangled me. I tried to run away. When I came back to my senses, I noticed that my sister was dead. He had chopped her in pieces.”

Kanani’s father Joseph says, “When I saw my daughter’s body and how the evil man had mutilated her, I fainted. I got so mad, I was so troubled, I was so traumatized. I’ll never forget that day, I don’t want to remember that day.”

As part of its child protection work, World Vision has set up in schools Child Protection and Spiritual Nurture Clubs where students learn about the dangers they face, ranging from early child marriage, child labour, child abuse, sexual assault to child sacrifice. Children learn to value themselves as important members of society, and tell their parents to value them and change their actions towards children. Children learn how to keep themselves and their peers safe.

More importantly, since witch doctors are often the spiritual authority in their community, child sacrifice is a spiritual problem that requires a spiritual solution. As a faith-based organisation, World Vision is pioneering the fight against child sacrifice in Uganda and collaborating with faith leaders to be strong change agents at the community level. World Vision’s faith-based approach brings community and religious leaders from all faiths together for one common goal: children protection. Their shared faith values create a platform for community engagement.

Muslim faith leader Imam Muksa Umar says, “The reason why we decided to work with World Vision is because of the community. We are all in the same community, and we saw that World Vision’s objectives aligned with what we do in the community.”

Pastor Joseph Kayemba says, “If we didn’t have the faith on board, people’s mind and behaviour wouldn’t have changed. Because when I speak, they listen. Apart from World Vision, I don’t see any other organisation that is cultivating this inter-faith relationship. If World Vision had not brought this relationship, the change wouldn’t have been realised by now.

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