“They didn’t give me food to eat. But when my Mum did, my Step-Father would kick the food.”
10 year-old PETER Ezekiel* lived with his mother, stepfather and half siblings in a remote community of Cross River state, until the day in 2017, when the church in PETER’s local community, labelled him a witch.
It’s hard to believe that this slight, vulnerable 10- year-old could ever have been accused of being a witch.
But his practice of angry outbursts and frequently smashing plates, led to Peter’s family and community believing that a witch spirit was controlling him. And as is all too often the case, the family quickly involved the local community in the task of driving out the witch, in the form of a service of deliverance aimed at freeing Peter from the spirit they believed was controlling him.
Following the harrowing deliverance experience, the situation at home rapidly deteriorated. John was subjected to daily, ritual violence until the day his step father threatened to kill him if he did not leave the house once and for all.
With no other option, the 10-year-old fled to the street where he begged for food. He slept on the streets, without shelter, for several months until an anonymous caller contacted BRCI and told them about his situation.
As soon as BRCI tracked him down, Peter was taken to the Emergency Accommodation Shelter and provided him with a safe place to sleep, food to eat and new clothes to wear. He was given emotional and psychological support and when the time was right, BRCI financed his education.
Once safe in the care of the team at BRCI, Peter was able to explain to his counsellor that his plate breaking behaviour had been the result of a deep-rooted anger and frustration, triggered by the long term mal-treatment, neglect and abuse that he had been receiving from his step father.
John’s story is just one of the many that feature in the case files of the Emergency Accommodation Shelter since it opened its doors in 2017.
In the 2+ years since, the shelter has delivered over 2,300 ‘overnight stays’ to children who would have had nowhere to turn.
On average 3 children have stayed at the Shelter at any one time, during the past 2 years, with some staying for as little as one night, while others have had no option but to stay for several months.
In recent months the team at BRCI have worked hard to develop a robust succession planning framework of Foster Care, which ensures that children who use the shelter are able to move on to a more permanent and stable home environment.
You can read more about this on the next page.
*Not real name