The HAWK Project

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A revealing town-hall meeting held at Esit Eket

The participation of the locals in intervention projects cannot be overemphasized, hence, the Young Humanistas Network (YHN), Ibadan in partnership with Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN), Eket, organized a town-hall meeting in Esit-Eket, Akwa Ibom State on August 6, 2010.

The essence of the meeting was to influence people to
work together with the organizations to address childwitch hunting menace in the state. The attendance was highly encouraging and demonstrates the commitment of the people to address the menace; a total of seventy-six people (76) people participated. The use of local dialect was employed for better understanding of the goals of the meeting. Fifteen (15) people volunteered to work within their localities. The two organizations recorded the meeting as a success. We hope to follow-up on this later on

YHN hosts an American researcher and volunteer, Jessica

In July, YHN hosts and supported the research works of Jessica Wilbanks, an American graduate student of University of Houston who visited the University of Ibadan. Jessica, against all odds and damning the fears of being kidnapped visited the abused children at the CRARN Center. For about two days, she played and taught them Elementary English. Jessy also took part in YHN Monthly seminar for July with the theme "Pentecostalism, get-rick quick syndrome and Witchcraft accusations in Nigeria". She also did the first reading of an edited volume (a book we are publishing soon). Although she is back in Houston, we want to say a very big "Thank You" to her for daring to be different. More of Jessica are needed! She really lifted the children!!

YHN holds a successful prosecution training

The heat turned on child-abusers under the disguise of child-witch exorcism by the Akwa-Ibom State Child Rights Bill has been exacerbated recently by the prosecution accord signed by five organizations, namely, Basic Rights Counsel, Calabar; Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network, Ikot-Afaha; Stepping Stones Nigeria, UK; Stepping Stones Nigeria Child Empowerment Foundation, Eket and Young Humanistas Network (for Secularism, Leadership and Neglected Rights), Ibadan. Since the said agreement came into existence, in 2009, formidable efforts have been made to arrest, detain and prosecute those investigated (no matter their status) and confirmed to be involved in child abuse, abandonment and stigmatization/labeling.

Unfortunately however, this dream (of sending offenders according to the Child Rights law) has remained largely a pipe dream for many of us seeking justice for these kids. Parents and concerned citizens who most often than not are willing to narrate ‘how it all happened’ and are only WILLING to speak in CONFIDENCE with us, the police and legal team. None of them, so far, is willing to confront these ‘accused’ persons we have arrested and hold them accountable for their deeds. The dilemma here is that WITHOUT these WITNESSES, we cannot successfully prosecute any of the cases; and now, we have gone too far to ever imagining taking a break. The pertinent question then is: what is the way forward?

The foregoing question was our compass on 17th July, 2010 as we gathered the police, legal team and the social workers working on the childwitches menace to brainstorm on the way out of the seemingly irredeemable quagmire. The meeting among others, sought answers to three questions:
1. Are there categories of witnesses and which among can best serve our purpose?
2. What methods or ways can we adopt that can guarantee access to quality, nay dogged, witnesses cum prosecution?
3. How best can we assure and reassure our witnesses of their safety for the sake of justice?

It was, indeed, a rewarding meeting/seminar.

YHN/ CRARN Children Sick Bay

One of the major worries at the centre, apart from food and water (and maybe clothing) has been access to medical attention. With the financial support provided by HAMU, we were able to acquire a 2-bedroom flat on an 18-months initial lease and refurbished same to cater for the health need of the children at the center. Apart from the sick beds provided, we also hired two staffs (a staff nurse and a ward maid) to cater for the kids. The two staffs will join CRARN hired staff nurse (who now heads the medical team) in providing day-to-day healthcare for the children at the center.

YHN organises pastors' parley

During the period under review, we organised a meeting with sixty-seven pastors in Oron land on how best they think we could address the menace. Held on 26th May 2010 at the Bakibum Beach Hotel, the high point of the meeting was the willingness of twenty-one pastors who personally decided to volunteer to work with us in whistle-blowing the activities of their colleagues caught or suspected to be involved in witch-hunt and also their willingness whenever such is held in their area.

Radio jingles continue to enlighten and sound notes of warnings!

To be forewarned is to be fore harmed. In continuation of our public enlightenment aspect of the Child Witches Rights Project, we have been able to renew our paid radio enlightenment on Sibawasibawa and Rockyfella, both popular radio programmes on Akwa-Ibom State Broadcasting Corporation Radio section. While Sibabasibaba is a local language programme aired every Tuesday between 8-9pm, Rockyfella is an 'afternoon ride' programme that enjoyed wide audience most especially among the youths, the educated and the 'young at heart'. It is expected that we will be able to reach out to as many as 1.8million people within the 3-quarter plan.

Advocacy visit to the Norwegian embassy

As part of our efforts to ensure that the menace is not thinned out of public discourse, YHN/CARN team visited the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Abuja. We were received by Geir A. Schei, Deputy Ambassador, at the chancellery on 22 June, 2010.

YHN/CRARN organises rally to mark World Family Day

In tandem with our belief in family as the best social institution for the growth of the child, YHN in partnership with CRARN organised an open rally on May 15, 2010 sharing handbills, pasting posters with anti- childwitch hunting messages amidst singing and dancing in and around Ikuta, Uya- Oron, Idua, Eyobasi, Ukpata, Esuk- Oron and Eyetong. The goal of the "energy intensive" walk and dance was to remind Oron Nation of the need to remember that care for children, not stigmatization, is the bedrock of family.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


For some times now, we have not updated the HAWK blog due to so many reasons, one of which is the spam attack we have experienced. Our ability to secure a website donation (thanks to Alan) also made us to consider focusing on developing our website for the news items. Unfortunately, our website: is still undergoing further development. We hope to update within days to come.