Protection through pierced ears in Uganda

Protection through pierced ears in Uganda | World Vision Blog

3-year-old Sharon in Uganda wears an earring – to protect her from child sacrifice. (Photo: 2014 Jon Warren/World Vision)

In certain districts of Uganda, child sacrifice is a real danger. Today, Kari Costanza writes from Uganda about 3-year-old Sharon, whose ear piercing may protect her.

Read how a World Vision-supported amber alert program is helping to recover children that have been taken.


I didn’t realize when I became a mother to a beautiful little girl that we would one day do battle. I thought she’d eat the food I set before her. I thought she’d wear the school clothes I laid out so carefully upon her bed. I never expected resistance. And I never expected a battle over pierced ears.

Claire wanted pierced ears more than anything — from the time she was little. I wasn’t ready. I was worried she wouldn’t be able to take care of them. I didn’t want her to grow up. So, we battled. I finally gave in, wincing as I watched.

Thinking over this mother-daughter struggle took on new meaning this week when I saw 3-year-old Sharon wearing a shiny silver earring — an earring much too big for a toddler.

“Why is her ear pierced?” I asked Obed, the World Vision staff person who had taken us to this village in Uganda’s Mukono district.

“It is believed that a child with a pierced ear will not be sacrificed,” he told me.

Mukono District is the center of child sacrifice in Uganda.

“Witchcraft has been there,” says Obed, “but sacrifice is new. People believe in witchcraft as a way of reviving their fortunes and getting money to boost the family income.”

Perfect children are targeted, he says, those between 2 and 15. If a child has a scar, says Obed, the witch doctor will reject her or him and ask for another.

Sharon’s brother, Moses, was the victim of child sacrifice last December. He was 15.

Protection through pierced ears in Uganda | World Vision Blog
Moses's grave site. (Photo: 2014 Jon Warren/World Vision)


“We sent Moses to buy Irish potatoes,” his mother, Rehema, told me. “It was a Thursday. We waited. He didn’t come back.”

When the family finally found Moses, it was the next Wednesday. He was lying in a sugarcane field. His head, heart, and genitals had been removed.

Moses’ parents are heartsick.

“I wish something would pierce me so I could die,” Moses’ father, Matthias, tells Obed, his counselor and friend. Obed tries to comfort him, reminding him to think of the children he has left. But Matthias is inconsolable.

“Why am I working?” he asks Obed. “Moses is dead.”

Obed Byamugisha is more than a listening ear. He is a 29-year-old dynamo, dedicated to stomping out child sacrifice in this community and all over Uganda. With World Vision funding, he and the community have devised a plan — a rural  ‘Amber Alert’ for missing children.

Instead of our freeway signs, TV messages, and texts, Obed’s system uses village drummers to beat out a special rhythm alerting the community that a child has gone missing. Motorbike taxi drivers who wait for passengers in the village center immediately drive to block off escape routes. A village alert committee notifies local police, community leaders, and radio stations that a child has been taken.

The community embraces and owns the plan because they worked with Obed to develop it — the only program of its kind in Uganda.

The program is working. Already two children have been located after being taken.

This innovative project will continue to save lives as it spreads across Uganda. It will also help protect children against abuse. But it will never bring Moses back. He will never attend school, where he was a class leader, or play soccer on a golden afternoon with his friends.

Thinking of Rehema’s loss makes me anxious to get home to my family, to my daughter, Claire, to hold her close. And, perhaps, to buy her a new pair of earrings.

Child sponsorship is one of the best ways to protect vulnerable children and keep them safe from threats like violence, exploitation, abuse, and neglect. By providing vulnerable children with access to quality education and supporting families to meet children’s immediate needs, such as food and housing, we are making a significant contribution toward preventing child slavery, trafficking, exploitation … and sacrifice. Choose a child to sponsor in Uganda today.


    What a good thing he has started! Keep up the good work! It is so sad that they have to do such measures for their children and their future. Demonics are certainly prevalent and need to be stamped out! They need to hear truth and that God saves!

    Dear Heavenly Father, please protect your children from the evil one. Put a hedge of protection around them and keep them safe. Let none of your own be snatched from your hand. (My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. John 10:29). Lord You are God Almighty. We ask that You would do everything and anything to keep these children safe. Please comfort Rehema and Obed in the loss of their child. In Jesus' precious Name we pray. Amen.


    Our sponsor child lives in Uganda. My heart aches for these children and we wish we could just sweep in and shelter her, her family and community.

    Human beings keep thinking up new forms of horrific cruelty. And destroying the planet and all its beautiful animals while they're at it. Human beings are a plague and a pestilence. I'm ashamed to be human.

    My Question is, "how long as this been going on? Exactly when did this all start?" Once I know the answer to this two part question, I can comment. Until I Know, I am ignorant of too much to be able to judge the situation. I don't like the blanket condemnation of Humanity because its not humanity who is doing all this psychopathic demonic horrors, its a minority who have been doing them for centuries.

    The world is absurd. Stories of child sacrifice are common and increasing in Uganda, especially in the district of Mukono. Why? Ignorance, greed for earned money, bad beliefs and poverty are some of the reasons behind this bad practice to humanity.

    One thing I have noted is that in most cases, the wrongdoers are not far from us. People behind this evil practice use people who know us so well. When a child gets sacrificed, don't get surprised to see a neighbour or even a relative behind it because he has been promised big money by a rich man who wants a child to slaughter and bury the parts in the foundation of his commercial building he is constructing. And most of these rich men are uneducated or half-baked. They believe so much in witchcraft to get riches. They go to witchdoctors who advise them to do so.

    What can we then do to protect our children? Yes, piercing children's ears and make them wear earrings is said to be effective. I have also had my children's ears pierced. But it's not enough. I still feel that even a child with pierced ears or scars can still be sacrificed.

    The best way is to sensitize people on other methods of protecting our children. It's always a good practice to keep yourself aware of where your child is at any given time so as not create room for wrong people doing harm to him/her. Leaving a child with careless people puts your child at a great risk. Sending your child unaccompanied by a responsible adult is bad. Some people allow their children to perform take like cattle rearing. In the bush they can be slaughtered. And this has happened to many. Leaving your child to go to school and back alone is risky indeed. They need to move in a group. You should tell your children not eat or allow strangers to trick them. You need to guide them on making good friendship.

    Another way of ironing out such bad practices is through education. Educated rich people do not believe in child sacrifice to become rich or maintain their wealth. And World Vision is doing a great job to support the education of children from poor communities and need to be supported both financially and morally.

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