Two #Children, a Good #Samaritan, Banish From Homes, Seek Protection at #CRARN Centre

2 Apr
#CNNiReport: Three children yesterday arrived the CRARN Children Centre in Eket – Nigeria, a Centre that takes in children banished from their family homes by parents and relatives over the allegation of witchcraft practice. The children who came from different villages and communities narrated their ordeals in the hands of their relatives said they feared for their lives while on the streets,  that is why they sought refuge at CRARN Children Centre.

Speaking to newsmen at the Centre, Ms Esther Edem (surname changed to conceal identity), a 13-year-old girl from Edo, Esit-Eket and the senior among them, said she found the other two girls roaming the streets and discovered upon inquiry that they were abandoned by their parents. She said she took them to their family home where she lives with her uncle and gave them food. When her uncle came back from work, she reported the incident to him and requested him to take the children and meet their parents if they could accept them back. Blessing said instead of yielding to her request, her uncle launched an attack on her and ordered her to leave his house with the two girls immediately. She said her uncle revealed to her that he had been suspecting her of being a witch all this while.
“I was thinking he was going to be happy and try to help the girls out of their dilemma. I was surprised when he pounced on me with anger and a spank. He asked me to leave his house immediately, so I left the house and did not know where to go. While roaming the street in the middle of the night, and as we sat in an uncompleted building, Ima came with an idea that we should go to CRARN Centre, a place she had been about six years ago. That’s why we came here.” Esther told reporters.
Ima who brought them to the CRARN Children Centre said her grandmother packed out and left their rented apartment in Ekpene Obo, Esit Eket where they were staying and asked her to find her way because she can no longer take care of a witch. She said she was in CRARN Centre in 2010 at the age of five and was reconciled with her grandmother who had been very good with her until a prophet told her  that she was still possessed by the evil spirit and has been responsible for her misfortunes and business downtown.
The youngest of the trio, Blessing Bassey, said she attended a prayer session on a Friday night (which locals called Tarry Night) after her two siblings were kidnapped by unknown gunmen, one of the Pastors in a  small church close to the Mary Slessor Health Centre, Effoi – Eket denounced her as using her magic power to cause the kidnapping of her two siblings and causing the family to go broke. She maintained that things changed for the worst since that fateful day and her parents began a string of torture on her every night before she was finally sent out the house.
The Child’s Right and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN) Centre was founded by Mr Sam Ikpe Itauma in 2003 while still a college student when he rescued four “witch” branded children from the hands of angry youths who wanted to kill them for coming to a nearby market and begging for alms. Itauma was not, however, available for comments when reporters visited the Centre. But the Centre manager, Ms Carol Akpan said there were cases of new children flocking into the Centre with no adequate support to cater for them. She regretted that some children could not be accepted, except in extreme or emergency cases, but referred to the government centres or  taken to their communities for immediate reconciliation and reunification with family which has always  been a very difficult task.
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