In Ghana Christianity and ancient tradition live closely united. Superstition and traditional rituals are still widespread and deeply anchored in the hearts of Ghanaians.

Augustina is a victim of this superstition.
At the age of six years Augustina got epilepsy, was brought to healers, and then even could no longer walk. Some time later, her father died and they started to blame Augustina for his death. It was born out of the superstitious believe that she was a witch! The mother, a woman with nine children and without any help from relatives or friends, no longer knew how to handle Augustina and locked her in a small mud house, a former kitchen right next to the family house of the father. There Augustina vegetated eight years, only barely fed and almost without any contact with the outside world. Only the older sister, also a girl with epilepsy, visited her from time to time, brought her some little food and cleaned her. This happened in the middle of the village- some neighbors knew but many did not even realize it, as 8 years she did not get out of her prison.

Liberation Action
In March 2004, we got the hint that we should ask for the 16 years old daughter of a particular family in our village. We got the answer that she was not there, that they sent her away etc. Two of our staff together with our informant, however, opened the door of the small mud house that was closed with a large stone. They found Augustina quite dirty, with long hair and long feet- and finger nails lying on the ground. She stared in panic at the intruders. Our staff initially thought she was an animal- days after they were still under shock. Two days later, we reported the case to the police and Social Welfare and Augustina was freed from her prison. One week she was at the hospital with severe malaria. We found that she was suffering extreme malnutrition, we could not immediately diagnose her disease. Madam Lucy from Social Welfare found a woman in another village to take care of Augustina- Madam Hannah, a Kindergarten teacher who affectionately started looking after her. Baobab provided her with good food and gave Hannah a pocket money. Augustina seemed to be a very intelligent girl. She could remember everything she had learned in school 8 years before - she was attending Class 2 when she fell sick.

Nine months hospitalization
Through X-ray, we found that Augustina had four poorly healed fractures. Presumably, she was brought to a Bamboo Church, where they tried to drive out the witch of her. In addition, she was left alone with her epilepsy and fell presumably without the fractures could be splinted. She spent nine months with her care mother Hannah at St. Joseph Hospital in Koforidua, where Dr. Casal, a Spanish surgeon, made some operations to correct the fractures. It noted that by malnutrition she had very brittle bones and even in the hospital she broke a leg again. With a lot of patience and tireless exercises, she gradually returned to her feet to stand and walk with a walking aid.

Her way to independence
February 2008. Augustina is now four years in freedom. Four years of intensive care and attention have brought her back to her life. She is now two years a student of Mephibosheth Training Centre, a facility for physically and mentally challenged children. " “
Augustina can now participate in life, she walks without assistance, she can sweep like any other girl, she can wash and help with the cooking. She is one of the best pupils in academics and can help the smaller and even more helpless children to dress and to eat. She is cheerful and loves life. One day, probably she will be able to live on her own, perhaps even marry and have children. Maybe she can also stay and work at Mephibosheth and take care of mentally and physically challenged children.

We will not rest
Augustina’s case is not a single case, that is why we brought her case to the Media, Human Rights, Social Welfare and it is still discussed in the press and on radio. More has to come, as meanwhile we had more cases of bewitching of girls and we will not rest as long as girls in Ghana must suffer this fate. We are planning an activity together with Human Rights Cape Coast on this issue.

The Oberle Foundation in Staufen/ Germany, a Foundation for emergency help, supported us generously with the cost of Augustina’s hospitalization and they are still financing her school education.

Eight years of isolation under uncontrolled epileptic attacks did not break Augustina’s will to survive. We can’t give her back her stolen childhood, but we assure that everything will be done to give her back a life in dignity.

AUGUSTINA - the successful liberation of a "witch-child" in Ghana