We found Hope’s biological mother
We found Hope’s biological mother
While filming for the documentary ‘Woman at the End of the World,’ something unexpected happened.
We found Hope’s mother.
For years, we had been searching for Hope’s family without success. Now, millions of people could suddenly witness the moment when Hope is reunited with his mother, and they embrace each other. In the documentary you see her waiting for him under our mango tree.
It was a very emotional moment.
The Story of Hope Went Around the World
The whole world also watched as Hope, just 2 years old, danced in front of a cheering village crowd, hoping to get some food and water. His little body was severely malnourished, and his legs could not carry him. They gave way, and he fell hard into the dust.
Anja had to suppress her desperation to help him. She was allowed to give him water and biscuits, and the image of her squatting in front of little Hope went around the world.
Finally, the world saw Nigeria’s unwanted ‘witch children’.
Hope was accused of being a witch; therefore, he was abandoned by the village and left to die. He was dying when we found him, but he regained strength and has since lived at Land of Hope.
We do not know whether it is due to this condition that he is now diagnosed as deaf and mute, but he can’t speak. Despite that, he is a fun-loving boy with self-confidence and a great desire to tell stories, and he has just found his own way of expressing himself.
How could his mother do that do him?
Now the past returns.
We have found Hope’s biological mother, and this has generated strong emotions and raised numerous questions for the millions of people who are familiar with Hope’s story. That’s why it’s essential for us to also share his mother’s story.
She was 15 when she gave birth to Hope, still a child herself. Hope’s father, at the time, was 50 years old and one of the village leaders. Hope’s grandparents were both ill, and his mother took care of them. However, when she gave birth to Hope, they passed away. She became pregnant again shortly after with Hope’s little brother, Daniel, at just 16 years old.
Unfortunately, Hope’s mother’s story is also one of rape, abuse, and child labor when she was sent away to Lagos. We can’t go into more detail.
But we can tell you that Hope’s real name is Steven.
Will Hope be able to forgive her?
Many people find it difficult to understand how we can allow the children’s families to see the child they so grossly failed. These are understandable feelings, and therefore we will put into words why.
Reconciliation and reintegration are important parts of Land of Hope’s work – but also the most difficult. How can a child who has been abused ever want to have contact with those who did it?
Accusations of witchcraft rarely come from the families themselves. They often originate from the church and so-called witch doctors, who hold significant influence in the impoverished communities of Nigeria.
Therefore, the children may miss their families, especially their siblings, who had no influence on the situation and also live under the constant threat of being accused of witchcraft.
Some of our children spend weeks at home with their families in the villages during summer holiday, and they truly enjoy this time. This is only possible because we have maintained contact with the families and conducted home visits for several years. Together, we have built a positive relationship. Families witness their children’s incredible transformation, and it changes their perspective – they no longer believe their children are witches.
The children bring some of their own clothing to share with their younger siblings. They also bring along biscuits, sweets, and soap. Even though we provide support to the children’s families, this gesture demonstrates the strong bond between the children and their biological families.
It’s important to note that seeing their family is always their own choice.
Just like seeing his mother again was Hope’s choice.
What will happen to Hope?
It will take some time for Hope to establish a relationship with his mother, but in his perspective, she is innocent. She wasn’t the one who abandoned him.
Hope has seen the picture of himself when he was 2 years old and close to death. He knows his history, but he is also proud of it and calls himself a “survivor”. It is part of his identity, and it is also how he views his mother based on the information he has been given about her.
Hope’s mother currently lives in Lagos, which is 700 km away from the Land of Hope. Hope’s younger brother, Daniel, also lives there, and we hope that the two of them can have the opportunity to meet each other one day. As Hope’s mother is still very young, we want to help her get an education and a secure future.
Hope remains at the Land of Hope and continues to be under our care. He does not want to be called Steven, but wants to keep the name “Hope”. His mother also really likes the name “Hope”..
When you support the work of the Land of Hope, you are providing a future for children like Hope — a resilient boy full of enthusiasm for life and a caring nature. The world needs them.