On Friday the 5th of July we told you that we had a new arrival at Malaika Babies’ Home, a beautiful little girl called Fiona. We received a call from the police station asking us for help and Maria, one of our social workers, went straight away. On that same Friday evening, NTV Uganda broke Fiona’s story on the evening news : Fiona’s story on NTV Uganda.
When children are abandoned it’s often in harrowing circumstances. We’ve had babies found in pit latrines, a bush on the side of the road, or even hidden in a plastic bag. Their mothers are usually in desperate circumstances and it’s heartbreaking these women feel they have no other choice.
When Maria arrived at the police station it soon became apparent that Fiona’s circumstances were very different – and even more shocking.
Fiona was rescued by a local night guard after he heard a disturbance at the housing development he was working at. In a half built house, he saw a man kneeling over a body and reached into his jacket pocket to pull out a flash light. The man heard the noise, grabbed the child and tried to make a run for it. The night guard screamed loudly, calling out for help and instinctively hit him on the back with a stick. He dropped the child and fled.
The night guard initially tried to chase after him but he panicked that someone else might return for the child and hurried back to the house. He rescued Fiona, who was naked and scared, and travelled with her to the local police station. The night guard initially reported attempted murder and rape but when he returned to the site the next day he noticed local herbs on the ground where Fiona had been, deliberately arranged. These herbs are commonly used for witchcraft in the area, more specifically for child sacrifice rituals. The police later found a wallet containing more herbs as well as African charms and talisman.
Fiona is estimated to be around 18 months old. She is healthy, strong and looks to have been cared for well up until the incident. It’s likely that she was kidnapped. Efforts so far to trace her family have been unsuccessful but our social work team is working closely with the police to aid the investigation and reunite Fiona with her family.
When we found Fiona she was frightened and confused. She became instantly very attached to Maria, and now follows her carer, Edith, around everywhere.
She is traumatised by her experience, scared of people she doesn’t recognise and will only play by herself. Now she’s safe at Malaika, we’re going to nurture and care for her – helping her learn to trust again – while we search for her family.
Although this is the first case like this at Malaika Babies Home, child sacrifice is not uncommon in some areas of Uganda. Below we bring you of Fiona’s journey at Malaika Babies Home.