By Fred Hidula
In 2004, Erick Dickens Ariko was still a toddler when he survived a nasty death, masterminded by a neighbour who wanted to sacrifice him. On the fateful day, while his parents were away for work, Ariko had been left under the care of a maid he only recalls as Winnie. The neighbour was married, with six daughters, but was desperate to have a boy child.
Apparently, she had visited a witchdoctor who gave her herbs to place in Ariko’s food so when he ate, he would die; thus, making him a sacrifice. She requested Winnie to help her go fetch water, a distance of about 15 minutes’ walk. Winnie obliged.
It was during Winnie’s absence that the alleged woman gave little Ariko food, but he refused to eat it. “That time I was about between three and four years old,” he recalls. Frustrated by her efforts, she quickly boiled water and no sooner had she began pouring it on Ariko than his aunt, who was passing by, noticed him crying loudly.
Shocked by the surprise appearance of Ariko’s aunt, the neighbour threw him down and ran, leaving him in severe pain. He collapsed. Ariko narrates his story while showing the severe scars all over his body as a result of the hot water that was poured on him.
Winnie shortly returned and called the boy’s mother, Doreen Chebet: “Mummy, Erick is dead!” Chebet rushed to the scene, found the boy very cold and rushed him to the hospital where he spent six months under comma in the intensive care unit. Only his mother had regular access to him at the time.
“At this point I was only fed on syrups of blood. That is what mother told me,” he says, looking in disbelief at the scars on his stomach, hands and legs. The neighbour had allegedly disappeared without trace to Kenya and later Tanzania before pitching camp in Entebbe two years later.
Worst of all, the woman’s marriage had failed after her husband found out through police investigations into the matter. Months later, God healed Ariko. He went to school.
Bad company threatens his life
The same plight seemed to be looming over his life once again. While in senior two at St Henry’s College Kitovu in 2010, Ariko had a friend, a one Calvin, who changed school because he was not promoted to senior three due to poor performance.
This forced Ariko to mingle with new friends who later proved to be of bad company. Ariko ended up with a one Gilbert who misled him into the use of drugs. At the time, Ariko’s dad was so ill that he could no longer take care of the family, pay school fees and service the loans he had acquired.
Because he was not sure of completing his second term while in senior two, Gilbert told him that going to Britain in a dubious way would be a better idea. “I was told to steal my brother’s laptop and sell it, which I did while Gilbert stole Shs 800,000 from his dad,” says Ariko.
They were helped to escape through Isingiro District to Tanzania by an unknown man who promised to get them to Mwanza and later to Britain. While in Tanzania, the little boys got lost because they never met the person who was presumably waiting for them at Mwanza Port.
So they went to a forex bureau and were cheated by being given less money. They remained puzzled. Meanwhile, a police officer at a nearby post noticed them and moved closer to find out what the matter was. They told him they were brothers travelling to Mwanza to meet their uncle.
The officer insisted on asking the little boys a few questions and checked their bags before seeing Ariko’s school identity card. “He realised that I had given him a wrong name and lied that we were brothers,” he says.
Meanwhile, the amount of money found in their bags together with new phones bought from part of that money led to the boy’s arrest. Upon detention and interrogation, it was discovered that the whole idea of going to Britain was a hoax.
Instead Ariko was moving with agents of a child trafficker who was to sacrifice him. He was later returned to Uganda and handed over to his family. That’s how God saved his life again before he got born again in 2018. Currently, Ariko is serving God while in his senior six vacation.