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One year later, starving ‘witch boy’ in Nigeria who went viral is now happy, healthy


On Jan. 30, 2016, Danish aid worker Anja Ringgren Lovén posted a photo to her Facebook page of a two-year-old boy in Nigeria, naked, emaciated and dying.

That photo inspired shock and sympathy around the world, as Lovén explained that the child was one of thousands of Nigerian children who are abandoned by their parents after being labeled as a witch.

The photo was shared thousands of times on Facebook and drew media attention to the plight of “witch children” in Africa, who are often abandoned or abused after a misfortune in the family leads them to be accused of being cursed, per Safe Child Africa. Lovén, the co-founder of the African Children’s Aid Education and Development Foundation, said in the photo’s caption that she decided to call the child “Hope, because right now, we’re all hoping that he survives.”

Now, a year later, Lovén has posted another photo of Hope that has gone viral. Except this time, it’s for much happier reasons. After 12 months, Hope looks completely changed and significantly healthier. He’s also starting school now, according to Lovén.

The new post has been shared more than 6,000 times and liked 21,000 times as of Saturday afternoon. But this is actually not the first time Lovén has posted photos and videos of Hope looking happy.

According to CNN, it is a criminal offense in the state of Nigeria where Hope was found to label a child a witch, but the practice is still widespread around the globe. According to CBS, studies have indicated that up to 15,000 children have been labeled witches in Nigeria since 1999, with 1,000 being killed.

However, Lovén’s activism has shined a light on the practice. In 2016, the German-language Ooom Magazine named her the most inspirational person in the world, ahead of the Dalai Lama, Pope Francis and other world-renowned figures.