GWAM, partnering with Ghana Health Services and Gnani church of Christ, was given an opportunity to work in the Gnani “Witch” Camp—featured in National Geographic—for two days conducting Mobile Medical Screenings to assist those often forgotten and cast aside by society for their alleged witchcraft or wizardry.
The Gnani “Witch” Camp is home to some 1,028 occupants – 313 women, 105 men and 610 children - who by various circumstances have allegedly practiced witchcraft or wizardry. They have all sought refuge in the camp. The camp is located approximately 1 hour east of Yendi in northern Ghana in the Saboba District.
Even in 2016, it is not at all uncommon for individuals to be accused of witchcraft or wizardry in West Africa. These accusations result in most being banished from their home villages or face extensive public beatings or even death. Therefore, the camps provide a refuge as the result of the accused being stigmatized and marginalized by society.
Since most of the accused are elderly, children and grandchildren are often forced to take-up residence in the camps to assist with gathering firewood and fetching water. Education is offered at a minimal level by community volunteers, because there are no resources to pay to have a formal school in the camp. Therefore, these circumstances continuing to perpetuate a cycle of the lack of education and opportunity in the "Witch Camps" of West Africa.
The Medical Team
The medical team was composed of a relatively wide variety of health professionals provided by Ghana Health Services and our mission team members. Tamale Teaching Hospital and Yendi Hospital played a significant role in allowing 8 of their health professionals to assist in the screening. The professionals included nurse practitioners, an ophthalmic nurse, general nurses, medical doctors and nursing students. In addition, the United States team was composed of registered nurses and environmental science professionals as well as health, education, and environmental policy students from Harding University, University of North Alabama and the University of Alabama. They all worked together to bring help to those suffering in this hard area and to assess ways of meeting their needs in the future.
Story of a Christian Lady
There was one specific lady (pictured above) that, through a translator, we had the opportunity to speak with regarding her circumstance of living at the camp. She said that she was a member of Gnani church of Christ and that she was forced to come to the camp about ten years ago when her son had been accused of wizardry.
The lady said that because she was old and could not take care of herself, she had to move to the camp in order to survive with her son’s help. She said that her son denies that he has any wizardry power. She went on to say that she doesn’t believe in witchcraft or wizardry because she is a Christian.
Advancing the Gospel
In II Corinthians 1:3-4, the Apostle Paul, in instructing the church in Corinth, describes an important element of what God has done for us as believers. That is, God is the comfort of all comfort and because of the comfort that he has given us, we are able to provide comfort in “any” suffering circumstance and “any affliction”. Therefore, we reflect the image, wisdom, and the power of God by providing such short term comfort. This comfort is provided through the church, so that the “…wisdom of God might be known to rulers and authorities in heavenly places.” (Ephesians 3:10)
In other words, a place such as the Gnani “Witch” Camp, which by many is considered to be so ungodly, is transformed suddenly to a heavily place—as a result of the impact of the spirit of the gospel that dwells in those who believe as Christians.
(Source Media http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/ghana_ghanawitches)