Of the Abused Childwitches and Charity at Xmas

Feelings of the yuletide season has enveloped Germany. Time for Christmas - time for the family - time for a lot of christian traditions. Right now, people here are going out on the streets to collect donations for the poor people, for example, in Latin America, to help them. Donations around Christmas are wellknown to all of us. Very nice "rituals“ and sometimes very Christian. But looking to Africa, I cannot think about any family tradition or Christian rituals in a good way. How about the Christianity we can find nowadays in Nigeria? How about pastors, who did force parents to beat and kill their children because of the allegations of their being 'witches'? How about all these ill beliefs when people are longing just for one thing: Money and power? It is shameful, how much power people can get milking the poorest. 

Children branded as witches are blamed for causing illness, death and destruction, prompting some communities to put them through harrowing punishments to "cleanse" them of their supposed magical powers. Some common traits in children accused to have witchcraft are: stubbornness, learning disabilities, physical disabilities such as epilepsy, unruly behavior and not taking school seriously. Many of these traits deemed “witch-like” are usually considered normal adolescent behavior in the West. Children suffering from diseases such as AIDS and malaria are also prime targets of witchcraft accusations.It is a growing issue worldwide, among not just African communities, but in countries such as Nepal as well. 

Belief in witchcraft thrives worldwide. And pastors have been accused of worsening the problem by claiming to have powers to recognize and exorcise "child witches," sometimes for a fee. Even churches who didn't use to 'find' child witches are being forced into it by the competition. They are seen as spiritually powerful because they can detect witchcraft and the parents may even pay them money for an exorcism.There is a growing trend around the world of children being accused of witchcraft. Once accused of witchcraft, a child is punished, beaten, starved and sometimes killed. 

What is pushing the trend? Families are often extremely poor, and sometimes even relieved to have one less mouth to feed. Poverty, conflict and poor education lay the foundation for accusations, which are then triggered by the death of a relative, barreness or loss of a job.When communities come under pressure, they look for scapegoats. It plays into traditional beliefs that someone is responsible for a negative change ... and children are defenseless. Unfortunately, witchcraft has also been used as a pretense for abandoning unwanted children. 

The sanest question here is: Why must human beings have such a need to abuse others for their selfish sake? Why do we envy so much, of the others? Why do we find, quite often, so much attrocities behind belief and guided rules of religions? Is it just the case of feeling innocent behind a curtain called faith? Or, is it just that people are not allowed to think freely? Is it just that people trust and believe everything in a stupid way without any doubt as this way is much more easier than a self-reflection? 

Christmas is a time of helping hands, of charity and running to get all gifts ready before the last shop is closed. I hope we will also find some time in between, just to think about our need for charity to Christmas. Is it just the time of harmony which makes us more sentimental and sensitive for people in danger, for people with less possibilities than we have? I hope not. I wish that people develop an understanding and sense for equality and support not only within the Christmas season. It should be an ongoing process without any time limit, without an "I have donated twelve Euros to Christmas, Im a better person“ image. I hope people take care because they are really taken care of people in their surrounding, of their family members and people around the world.
As no-one can help these children better in Nigeria and everywhere else in the world than we can. Yes, we can.
Merry Christmas!

Silvana Uhlrich