Thursday, August 31, 2006

Hands off the Children!

Larry Short, 49, is web editor for World Vision's office in the U.S. He is visiting World Vision projects in four countries in Southern Africa along with his daughter, Amanda, 20, a Safety Technician for Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) in Sumner, Washington. Daughter and father are shown here in the Okhahlamba / Drakensberg area of South Africa. The mountains of eastern Lesotho are in the background.

I am so glad that the tragic situation of the Congo's so-called "sorcery children" (see article below) is getting some traction in the media. The Los Angeles Times just posted an excellent piece on the topic, intriguingly titled "They say I ate my father. But I didn't."

The article focuses on the plight of a 5-year-old girl who was accused of killing her parents ... through sorcery.

I was pleased to read that the Congolese constitution actually has made an accusation of sorcery against a child illegal. But plainly in this case there is a large gap between what is legal and what is common practice in the large cities of this troubled country. With up to 30,000 children on the streets of Kinshasa -- at least 20,000 of them there due to a sorcery allegation -- and 3,000 on the streets of Lubumbashi, the majority for the same reason, something must be done to protect the lives and welfare of these innocents.

And the same thing holds for the elderly, who (in the Congo and also in countries such as Ghana) are also being scapegoatted for societal problems.

Enforcing the law is a start. The next step is providing badly needed resources to take "sorcery children" off the dangerous streets of the Congo's large cities, and get them back into loving homes, or provide them with food, healthcare and shelter, and back to school. World Vision is helping with this, but much more is needed.

And, finally, we also need to work with "independent" church leaders in the DRC who are perpetuating this tragedy through their ignorance or misinterpretation of biblical teaching.

Out of all the gut-wrenching stories I was able to gather in the Congo this summer, this is the one that has really burned a hole in my heart since I returned. We all need to pray for these innocent children who are being abused in unimaginable ways because of the superstitions of the adults around them.

1 comment:

mustard said...

The idea of labeling a child a sorcerer is so foriegn that it's hard to wrap my head around it. I just can't understand how anyone could do that. I don't want to know what it would be like to do that, but I think that it does show some of the fundamental disconnect between the Western nations and developing nations. I have to get it in my head that it's not just giving aid or sending money, but to try to understand and learn from them. I'm not even sure where to start. Thanks for the blog. It's great to see a personal side to the aid process. Keep up the good work