Life in the Democratic Republic of Congo is hard. For a child accused of witchcraft, life can be viciously cruel.
Some children live in good conditions: they go to school, are well dressed, and are well fed. Other children live a miserable life: some live on the street, some steal to survive, and some young girls have no choice but to prostitute themselves to earn money.
Even today, many children are still accused of witchcraft. If a family member becomes ill, they punish the child and accuse them of black magic instead of getting medical care for the sick person. The children are beaten and thrown out of the home – often to live a life on the street.
Lila’s problems began in primary school. After school, a 16 year old girl who lived nearby came to visit her. The girl gave Lila a doughnut and pounded groundnut. Later, the girl asked Lila to return the gifts that she had given to her, but Lila had eaten them. The girl said that because she did not have the doughnut and pounded groundnut to return to her, then Lila had to give her a piece of her uncle’s clothing.
Together, the girls went to her uncle’s house and cut off a small part of his shirt. The girl left with the scrap of fabric.
After a few days, Lila’s uncle started to suffer from diabetes. He died shortly after.
The family of the girl who gave me the groundnut wrote a letter to spread the word that my grandmother had trained me in witchcraft.Lila
The church congregation began to beat Lila and attack her with knives. They poured cold water over her and used a pestle to hit her on the head. They were allegedly trying to rid her of witchcraft. All the violence and suffering that Lila endured left her with multiple scars all over her body and head. The church asked for a sum of money to rid Lila of witchcraft. Lila and her grandmother could not afford the fee. In the community, there were rumours that Lila’s family were trying to kill her.
Lila has to stay inside out of fear what others will do and say to her. She cannot play with other children.
I want help for myself and my family. I would like to study, and for my family to earn money so we can eat, have clothes, and have school books.Lila
Lila has a message for the children of Scotland:
Many children in Scotland are lucky and their parents can afford good things for them. They should thank God for this.
SCIAF are dedicated to providing support to thousands of women and girls in the DR Congo. We are working with female survivors of sexual violence to empower then, rebuild their confidence, provide trauma counselling, vital medical assistance, and legal aid.