Since 2011 the Sainte Genevieve Centre created to take care of children considered by the society as “cursed” has been overseeing the evolution of the kids rejected by their parents at the Katiola and elsewhere in Ivory Coast. The children are allegedly rejected for bringing bad omen while some are saved after being sentenced to death by tradition.
Created by Abbot Germain Coulibaly Kalari, the centre is funded by donations and hosts 17 young residents aged 3 to 14 years two of whom are HIV positive.
It is going to be difficult to abandon this practice here.Very difficult because the disabled needs a lot of care. If you have a physically challenged child you will need someone to take care of him/her when you go to work. The parents consider it as a waste of time and then leaves the child here to carry out his daily activities,” an official of the centre, Abiba Kone said.
Families which go ahead to kill the kids considered as bringers of bad luck hardly use the word kill. In most cases they instead say the children have been sent back to their supernatural parents. Experts say it is important to change the mentality of those involved in this practice.
“To change these perceptions, one must raise awareness for example through the mass media, through the Community leaders to make them understand that they are children like others but perhaps there has been malformations and that this phenomenon is not linked only to socio-cultural values or witchcraft,” sociologist, Vincent Morife said.
A normal day at the centre starts with prayer, followed by breakfast before the children go ahead with their daily activities.
The most difficult situation for those at the centre is when the children have to leave the centre at the age of 15 as recommended by the government.
Sometimes they suffer a second rejection making the situation more pitiful.