According to United Nations data, in the Democratic Republic of The Congo, there are over 25,000 homeless children. Many of them are living in that condition because they have been accused of doing witchcraft. The accusation usually comes from a family member, pastor or priest, but once it is spoken, the child is thrown out on the street to fend for himself.
People in The Congo are extremely superstitious, and any kind of behavior that seems a bit different from the usual pattern is considered to be the behavior of a sorcerer.
Some of the homeless boys who are under 18 get to live at a home that was founded a few decades ago. The head of the shelter is a social worker known on the streets as Che Guevara. He was homeless too as a boy, and so he is well aware of the struggles that a young child faces on the streets. Half of those who live at the home are sorcerers. The boys try to earn some money by begging, doing odd jobs or stealing.
The home is dedicated to prevention. As soon as they hear about a homeless child, they try to take him back to his family promptly because once he learns the things that happen on the street and experiences that ‘freedom’ he will never go back home.
Many other homeless boys live in gangs. They learn from very early to take care of themselves cause nobody else will. One boy tells how he had to leave his home because his father remarried after his mother’s death and the new woman’s children were bullying him. Some of the boys recall the awful things their parents said to them and about them.
The social worker believes that pastors are to blame for the exorbitant amount of homeless children. One pastor states that a parent can identify whether their child is a sorcerer or not by looking for a few important clues. For instance, a child who is a sorcerer will cry louder than normal at night, he might start stealing, and sometimes just by looking at the child you can tell that he is a sorcerer. A great part of this protestant pastor’s ministry consists of exorcising small children. He claims that sometimes, adoptive parents can make a child become a sorcerer by giving him or her a slice of bread, nuts, or a date.
The real question that needs to be asked is whether these children are really possessed by some evil entity or is this just the product of an over active adult imagination. Either way, there are thousands of homeless boys and girls living on the street of Kinshasa and nobody seems to be able to co me up with a practical solution that will eradicate the problem.