Anja and Nigeria’s witch children

Anja Lovén is the founder of Land of Hope. You may recognize her from this photo sitting in front of a small, Nigerian “witch child”. The photo went viral in 2016, where Anja became a well-known figure and was awarded The World’s most Inspiring Person by magazine OOOM.


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This is Hope at Land of Hope

Hope changed Anja's life

In the world-famous picture, you see Anja giving the little “witch child” water and biscuits. She gently picked him up and took him to the hospital, but no one believed he would survive.

“When we got him into the car, I looked at my husband, David, and told him that we should name him Hope. I didn’t want him to die without a name. He deserved to die with dignity,” Anja writes in her book about Hope.

Hope survived. He now lives with 92 other wonderful children at the children’s center Land of Hope in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. Land of Hope is a loving home for the so-called “witch children” who have been abanded by their families and tortured because of superstition.

This is Anja Lovén from Land of Hope protest

A small town girl

Life in Nigeria is far from life in Denmark, where Anja grew up in a small town with her mother, older sister, and twin sister. But a hard upbringing is not unfamiliar to Anja. Her mother died when she was young, and her father was an alcoholic. She herself struggled with depression, anxiety, and anorexia.

In 2008, Anja watched a British documentary about “witch children” in Nigeria. How they are tortured, buried alive, and killed because of accusations of witchcraft. It lit a fire in her and a rage against world leaders who do nothing to save the children. The anger awakened a childhood dream of Africa, which she decided to fulfill. First in Malawi and later in Tanzania as humanitarian worker.

In 2012, she quit her job, sold all her belongings, and founded her own non-profit organization to save “witch children” in Nigeria. The organization was then called DINNødhjælp and is now Land of Hope.

This is Anja Lovén with her loving family, husband and kids

Anja's life today

In Nigeria, Anja not only met abandoned and tortured “witch children” but also her great love. Humanitarian worker and lawyer David Emmanuel Umem. Together, they established our Nigerian sister organization, the African Children’s Aid, Education, and Development Foundation.

Anja and David both run the children’s center, Land of Hope, which today is West Africa’s largest children’s center and includes, among other things, the children’s private homes, a children’s hospital, and agricultural land. The children living at Land of Hope all see Anja and David as their parents. Together, they have their biological son, David Junior.

Our children

They go from being tortured, abandoned and scared to being at the top of their class in school. It’s like witnessing a miracle.

Here Anja Lovén is meeting Dalai Lama

Awards and recognition

Anja’s humanitarian work in Nigeria has led to worldwide recognition, including a personal meeting with the Dalai Lama in 2017. This meeting was shown in the Danish documentary “Anja’s children’s home”.  

Anja has also been recognised with the following awards and honours


  • 2016 Niels Ebbesen Award 
  • 2016 Volunteer of the Year – The Children’s Town Prize
  • 2016 The World’s Most Inspiring Person 2016 by OOOM Magazine


  • 2017 Paul Harris Fellow Medal
  • 2017 The Dane of the Year
  • 2017 Hope Award


  • 2018 Lifeguard Prize Award
  • 2018 Good Deed Award
  • 2018 Paul Harris Great Leader’s Award


  • 2019 Social Media For Social Good Award Africa
  • 2019 Humanitarian Award Nigeria


  • 2020 Odd Fellow Award


  • 2021 Ambassador for Universal Peace Federation International
  • 2021 Humanity Impact Award
  • 2021 Lars Erik Andersen Foundation Honoring Award
  • 2021 Boel Foundation Award


  • 2022 Mofibo Documentary Book Award

Get to know Anja


In Anja’s biography “Mother of the Witch Children” she describes her heartbreaking struggle for witch children’s rights. The book is in Danish and Polish, with other language versions expected soon.

This is the book


The following documentary films depict Anja’s work in Nigeria:
“Heroes of Hell,” (Danish)
“A Dane Saves the World,” (Danish)
“Anja und die Hexenkinder” (Danish)
“Anjas Kinderheim” (Danish)
“Woman at the End of the World” (Polish)

Watch Anja


Anja gives thought-provoking, insightful, and inspiring lectures about her work with Land of Hope – and about having the courage to follow one’s heart.

Book Anja
This is Anja Loven with the children at Land of Hope
This is Anja Lovén with her son David Junior and Hope