Social exclusion due to allegations of witchcraft is a violence against women, and the phenomenon is still prevalent, especially on the Mossi Plateau. Over five hundred women are scattered across the Mossi Plateau in shelters or precarious dwellings in insecure areas because they are accused of being “soul eaters.” The luckiest ones are those welcomed at the Delwende Center, a shelter where I exercise my apostolate. Women arrive stripped of all their belongings and dignity, beaten, wounded, their homes burnt, unable to see their children and families. Many die on the road, others attempt suicide. These cases are common, and numerous victims tragically perish without any assistance.

Generally, it is the elderly, particularly women, who are the first to bear the brunt when death or other dramatic events occur within a family. Currently, at the Delwende Center, we have 178 residents, including 7 men; 70% have an average age of 70 years. Unfortunately, we also accommodate young individuals – the youngest being 43 years old and has been at the center for 4 years. Ignorant of their rights and existing legal provisions, often left to fend for themselves by the competent services, these women fall victim to exclusion, various abuses, and destruction of their property.

Our mission is to welcome them, provide shelter, care for them, feed them, raise awareness, and advocate for their return to their families and original communities. In doing so, we try to give them back their lives, helping them rebuild their self-esteem and confidence. We accompany them through medical and psychiatric care, and literacy classes for those still able to learn. They also engage in gardening, pig and poultry farming, cotton spinning, and soap making. Like allegations of witchcraft, violations of rights and resulting violence against victims severely test the cohesion of the families and communities they come from, and we try to restore ties with their families, especially those open to accepting and welcoming these women through mediation and reconciliation.

In this apostolate, living JPIC is not something distant or foreign to me. On the contrary, it is part of my way of being, discerning, acting, etc. It is this “common thread,” as we like to say, that runs through my actions. For me, prayer increasingly becomes a tool for the true JPIC that the world awaits. May the Lord, Prince of Peace, come to our aid!

Sr. Vickness N. Muleya, MSOLA