It was a cheerful moment at Vine Heritage Home (VHH) in Kuje community, Abuja when 5-years-old, Kingsley Kabenda who was rescued and fostered by the home due to cultural beliefs (infanticide) reunited with his family.
Kingsley was termed as an evil child in his community following the death of his mother during child bearing in 2018.
The reunion was witnessed by ActionAid Nigeria (AAN) and other partners.
Kingsley’s father, Mr Irimiya Sunday Kabenda who couldn’t hold his excitement said he came to pick his child from the home because he wants to give him the fatherly care that he needed.
Mr Irimiya explained Kingsley’s mother died while giving birth him and he was brought to the home.
He lauded VHH, ActionAid Nigeria and others who took care of his child assuring that he will ensure that Kingsley will be well taken care of .
The Project Coordinator, Mobilizing Actions Towards the Abolition of Infanticide (MATAI) and Programme Advisor, ActionAid Nigeria, Ubong Tommy explained that the objectives of the project is to ensure the implementation and monitoring of existing legal and policy frameworks addresses infanticide practices in the FCT.
He said others are to raise awareness in the FCT on infanticide practices, especially among practising
communities and to establish mechanisms to safeguard unborn babies and infants who are vulnerable.
Through the initiatives, he said AAN co-funded the project with the European Union (EU) with funds from MATAI reached out to community leaders, birth attendants, caregivers, media organisations, as well as various government establishments such as the National Assembly, FCT Social Development Secretariat, Child Rights Implementation Committees, and National Population Commission.
ActionAid Nigeria through the MATAI project has since 2019 been working with five area councils (Abaji, AMAC, Gwagwalada, Kuje and Kwali) to mobilize individuals, communities and stakeholders to abolish the practice of infanticide in communities of the FCT.
The MATAI intervention has led to change in communities which used to reject their twins and other multiple birthed children. Many of these previously ostracized children have begun to be reunited with their families and communities.
On monitoring of children who have been reunited with their families, Tommy said they carry out regular monitoring of children by taking certain vital data and use it to regularly monitor the welfare of the children.
He also said they do follow ups and ensure the welfare of the children who have returned back to their communities adding that they created linkages between various communities and the area councils.
“We are also part of those linkages to ensure that we receive feedback as we can on the welfare of the children,” he said.
Also, the Head of Operation, VHH, Pastor Stephen Olusola explained that they started their missionary work in the late 90s and discovered that there are group of people in the FCT, which are the Bassa-Komo tribe, where the lives of children are still in danger due to cultural beliefs.
He further explained that five cultural practices were discovered as missionaries among the people, which include multiple births not acceptable, children who lost their mothers during birth are believed to be witches and wizards, children born with albinism are not allowed to live, children who grew the upper teeth first are meant to be evil, children who are born with deformities are also believed to have demonic manipulation on them and so they don’t allow them to live adding that the practices cover five Area Councils of FCT out of six.