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03rd Feb 2017

One year on, the little boy abandoned for being a ‘witch’ has started school

Katie Mythen-Lynch

It was an image that shocked and saddened the world.

A tiny, emaciated child drinking eagerly from a water bottle gently help to his mouth by a worried Danish aid worker.

Anja Ringgren Loven discovered the Nigerian little boy, now called Hope, by the roadside, where he had been wandering naked for months after his family decided he was a witch and cast him out.

Suffering from worms and close to death, his ribs protruding and his hair weak and tangled with dirt, the child had managed to survive by eating scraps.

Loven, the founder of the African Children’s Aid Education and Development Foundation, wrapped him in a shawl and rushed him to hospital.

Incredibly, the little boy made a miraculous recovery and this week, once year on, he has started school, a happy and healthy two-year-old.

To mark the occasion and show just how far he’s come, Anja and Hope recreated the image that touched so many hearts around the world.

In the weeks that followed the publication of the photo, Anja and her husband David were sent more than $1m, every penny donated by people who were deeply moved by the tiny abandoned child in the picture.

Now the couple run an orphanage where children rejected by the superstitious families who believe they are witches can grow up in safety.

In a Facebook post marking the big event in Hope’s young life, Anja wrote:

‘On the 30th of 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.’

It’s a wonderful ending to a terrible story, but just the beginning for a little boy called Hope.