Abused Children in Togo, Africa
Hervé grew up being beaten all his life. Considering him to be a curse, different men who lived with his family delighted in hurting him. You see, Hervé was born into a cultural curse. At birth, his mother died.
In Togo, if a mother dies giving birth to a child, the baby is blamed, and then usually rejected and abandoned. In Hervé's case, the father kept him and brought him up, but still considered him the cause of his wife's death.
The grandmother also accused Hervé of killing his mother, and he was consequently punished and mistreated for being alive while his mother was dead. To live for Herve meant being cursed, despised, unloved. It is not surprising that Hervé thought nothing of stealing as a way of life: He was never motivated to do right for there was no reward for good behavior for a worthless scum like Hervé. He became an increasingly difficult child, unruly and aggressive, responding to the violence he received regularly by impulsive fits of aggression where he could no longer hold down his deep pain. His father did not know what to do with him, and decided to bring him to a children's home run by his sister, Pauline.
Hervé's father's sister, Pauline runs a small Christian children's home in Lomé. After pleading with Pauline to take Hervé into the children's home, he left him there. The father said that he was afraid because his son was always being beaten by the other men. Hervé has now lived in the home for two years. As Pauline got to know Hervé, it was obvious that the deep rejection he felt caused his destructive behavior. Not only did he steal and was troublesome, but he self-inflicted serious wounds in his body. Isabelle, the founder of the children's home, suspects Hervé may have been possessed. "He had strange reactions whenever the name of Jesus was pronounced" she says.
Hervé stayed in the children's home with his aunt Pauline for six months before returning to his father. A year later, the child was found severely injured to the point of near death because of self-inflicted wounds. Hervé had put a metal poker into his anus which perforated the colon, provoking infection with a pocket of pus. He couldn't walk. Isabelle used her medical knowledge and much prayer -- to treat him. Hervé remained silent at this point. "The risk of him getting a serious disease through infection was so great that we had to wait before piercing the abscess. We gave painkillers, and then spoke to him about Christ while he was under the effect of painkillers. I pleaded with him to pray to Jesus just to be able to live. When he finally uttered the name of "Jesus" he fainted. We then pierced the abscess and he was healed two days later. It was a real miracle!" Isabelle explains.
"We wanted him to speak of his past so we could understand what he'd been through. We discovered the director of a school had tortured him for six months, making him pick up his own excrement. His grandmother also punished him all the time, and everyone accused him of having killed his own mother at birth. They all felt that he should have been left unattended to die but the father took him. As Hervé spoke of his past -- and as we listened with compassion -- it seemed to help him. We were able to teach him comforting Scriptures and to pray with him."
Three days later, there was a real breakthrough! Hervé wrote Bible verses on paper and on the walls -- an expression of his transformed life. He stopped stealing and shouting, and became tender and receptive to love and truth.
Hervé still has some outward manifestations of his difficult past. He sometimes tries to dress like a girl, or caresses girls' hair. He also went to peek a few times at the women bathing where he used to live -- a scene he saw daily when he lived there. This is probably because when he was young he was in a voodoo ceremony. His entire family are into voodoo. During these occult ceremonies, he had white powder sprinkled all over him, and wore white clothes. Hervé was also probably raped. He was exposed to demonic activity and pain, which account for his strange behavior.
Hervé's father now rejects him but he has found a new family in the church and the children's home. Now fourteen years old, Hervé loves his new family. If his pastor, Pastor Luigi, has to correct him for disobedience, Hervé changes his behavior quickly. Isabelle and Pauline still spend much time with him, giving him good books to read and useful things to do. He also attends the Christian school. Thanks to the team in Lomé, Hervé is now a happy African teen boy with a bright, gloriously glowing future.