Augustina – the girl who was accused to be a witch
In Ghana, Christianity and old traditions are still deeply rooted.Superstition and traditional rituals are also widely spread and rooted deep in the hearts of the Ghanaian people. Charismatic churches, like the Pentecost church, contribute a lot to maintain these beliefs and more over they practice exorcism.
Augustina is a victim of superstition
At the age of six years Augustina fell ill with epilepsy. When her father died two years later, the family believed that the child had caused his death. It was confirmed that Augustina was a witch and for the following eight years she was locked away together with goats and chicken in the former local kitchen in front of her family house in the middle of Kissi town.
The action of releasing Augustina
In March 2004 Baobab got a hint from a former playmate of Augustina to ask a certain family in Kissi for a 16 years old girl called Augustina. Mr Alhaji and a co-worker went there to ask. The mother said Augustina was not there any more. Then they heard a noise coming from the local kitchen just behind them. A big stone was keeping the door shut. When they opened the door they saw Augustina lying on the floor badly soiled with long tangled hair and extreme long finger- and toenails. She lay curled up and stared panic-stricken at the intruders. Their first impression was rather that of an animal and not that of a human being.
Baobab informed Social Welfare and Human Rights. Two days later Augustina was released at dawn from her imprisonment. She had survived eight years of imprisonment without sunlight, uncontrolled epileptic attacks, severe Malaria and just enough food to survive. She was skin and bone, could not even sit any more, had several fractures and looked at the age of 16 like an eight year old girl. Evidently she was badly traumatized. Baobab could not give her back her childhood but tried everything to restore dignity to her life.
What about Augustina today?
Today Augustina is 29 years old. Baobab has been taking care of her since she was released. We found a carer for her, she spent nearly one year at hospital, she learned to sit and to walk, she went for some years to a school for the disabled at Apam. In 2012 we tried to reintegrate Augustina into her family, but it did not work out.
Due to eight years of uncontrolled epileptic attacks, her isolation and malnourishment, Augustina is disabled and can’t take care of herself. She lives now together with her carer Madam Hannah at the Baobab Center and we try to teach her the basics. Her condition is not really getting better, but she is happy to be among people. During the holidays she can stay with her family.
Many people were involved in helping Augustina. Many thanks to all who helped us to help her and who are still supporting her.