The shock of learning that children were being branded as witches taught me we had to change hearts and minds if we wanted to fulfil our vision of transformed communities, says Susie. BCT is now at the forefront of addressing accusations of witchcraft against children. This is how that aspect of our work began:
Aristoteâ€™s uncle had lost his job so the family blamed 11-year-old Aristote. The local â€˜prophetessâ€™ in their part of Kinshasa confirmed he was a witch.
To â€˜freeâ€™ Aristote of â€˜evil spiritsâ€™, the husband of the prophetess and his associates held Aristote over a bonfire, burning his buttocks and groin. They did the same with three other children theyâ€™d accused of witchcraft.
The four children were dunked in the river â€“ then locked up in church for five months, with no medical care and virtually no food. One of them died.
Aristoteâ€™s mother had been left to bring up six children alone so she had done what culture dictated and had sent Aristote to live with her brother and sister-in-law in good faith. She loved her son.
So, when her sister-in-law failed to produce Aristote and revealed he was with the prophetess, Aristoteâ€™s mother stormed round to the church, threatening to call the police. The prophetess released Aristote who was by then a virtual skeleton, in desperate need of medical care. Appalled, his mother contacted EPED.