In some of the poorest parts of Nigeria, where evangelical religious fervour is combined with a belief in sorcery and black magic, many thousands of children are being blamed for catastrophes, death and famine - and branded witches by powerful pastors. These children are then abandoned, tortured, starved and murdered - all in the name of Jesus Christ.
This Dispatches Special follows the work of one Englishman, 29-year-old Gary Foxcroft, who has devoted his life to helping these desperate and vulnerable children. Gary's charity, Stepping Stones Nigeria, raises funds to help Sam Itauma, who five years ago, rescued four children accused of witchcraft. He now struggles to care for over 150 in a makeshift shelter and school in the Niger Delta region called CRARN (Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network).
Gary and Sam introduce Dispatches to some of the rescued children who have been through unimaginable horrors, such as Ekemeni, aged 13, who was tied up with chicken wire and starved and beaten for two weeks, and Mary, aged 14, who was burnt with acid before her mother attempted to bury her alive. Other children display the hallmarks of witch-branding - acid burns and machete scars. Uma Eke, aged 17, has been left brain-damaged after having a three-inch nail driven into her skull. ...edit