Udo when he was found
Udo John Akpadak is now 12 years old. He was found on the street in Eket, Akwa Ibom State, where abuse and witchcraft accusations are extremely common and children are often forced to leave home to live on the street as a result. When Udo was found he was just 9 years old and had 1st and 2nd degree burns down one side of his body and face. He was also unable to speak, due to both his burns and the trauma he had undergone.
Stepping Stones Nigeria Child Empowerment Foundation (SSNCEF) immediately took him to receive medical care, however he was rejected from three hospitals as they knew he was a street child and therefore thought to be a witch. He was eventually admitted to the teaching hospital in the State capital, where SSNCEF paid for Udo to receive treatment. The case was also reported to the police.
Udo had claimed his stepmother had inflicted these injuries on him for taking and eating the fish she had bought. Once SSNCEF had traced his family, a neighbour confirmed that it was indeed the stepmother who had carried out the act; they also mentioned that both she and his father used to torture him and accuse him of witchcraft, and he was eventually taken away on a motorbike, dumped and abandoned.
Udo’s stepmother ran away after this and has not yet been found. His father was arrested and later made to sign an agreement, undertaking to provide adequate care, education, healthcare, shelter and family love to his son. Udo was handed over to his father and they returned home together.
SSNCEF continued to monitor the family. After a difficult start, Udo and his father have now developed a loving father-son relationship. Udo’s father no longer thinks his son is a witch and takes good care of him. Udo, who had dropped out of school, is now going to school; SSNCEF provided him with school uniforms and books. He is completely stable at home and in school and his teachers say he’s doing really well. Finally, as Udo’s father had no regular job and was very poor, SSNCEF also provided a small grant for his father to start a small scale electrical appliances sales business.
Udo with his father