“I was about four or five … I came here because I was accused of witchcraft and I was condemned by my family and my community”, said Sarah, aged 12. When Sarah was four years old, she was wrongly implicated in the deaths of fifteen people in her community, simply because she had a speech impediment.
In accordance with local customs in parts of northern Ghana, some people in Sarah’s community believed the little girl to be a ‘spirit child’. Under these customs, any child born with a disability or whose mother dies during their birth may be considered a bad omen, and their lives placed at risk.
Many in Sarah’s community, including her own family, became furious at her inability or unwillingness to speak and defend herself against the allegations, casting her out and threatening to kill her.
Thankfully, Sister Stan Therese Mumuni and the local Church were made aware of the imminent danger Sarah was in. Sister Stan recalls fighting – almost physically – to save Sarah from a terrible fate and give her a new chance at life.
“When a child is born with a physical defect, they think it is a child with an evil spirit, and they have to get rid of such children; and we say that this cannot be done”, explained Bishop Vincent Sowa of Yendi. To rescue children from this practice, the diocese supports the Nazareth Home, run by Sister Therese Stan.
“These children have a wide variety of disabilities: malformations, blindness, Down syndrome, syphilis. All these children have been accused of witchcraft and have been thrown out of their communities and families, and have been threatened with death”, explained Sister Stan. The home rescues these children and takes full responsibility for them.
Sister Stan has dedicated the last decade to running the Nazareth Home for God’s Children in the Diocese of Yendi in Ghana, a haven where children like Sarah are given shelter, nutritious meals, healthcare and education as well as unconditional love.
At the Nazareth Home for God’s Children, the children receive quality education so that they may one day gain employment and provide for themselves. Sister Stan’s dream is that one day they will return to their home communities and show how the love and support of the Church has empowered them to develop and reach their goals. (Rose Mary Mutesa)