As It Happens

Canadian sisters seek help for mother accused of witchcraft, threatened by mob in Ghana

Canadian citizen Barbara Boachie-Yiadom is currently stuck in a psychiatric hospital in the capital, Accra, without a passport or identification.

Originally Published: Nov. 13, 2015

Updated: Nov. 16, 2015

Four Toronto sisters are trying to get their mother, who suffers from mental illness, home from Ghana. 

Last spring, photos were published on the internet showing Barbara Boachie-Yiadom naked, being taunted and threatened by crowds in Accra, Ghana. Some in the crowd accused her of being a witch.

Seeing the media coverage, the sisters realized the woman under attack was their mother.  

Her daughter Stacey Boachie-Yiadom tells As It Happens guest host Helen Mann, "There is not a lot of understanding of mental illness in Ghana. So . . . they began to call her a witch.

"They believed that, by committing these acts, it would somehow sanitize her of being a witch."

The daughters have not seen their mother since being placed in foster care in 1999. Boachie-Yiadom says her mother returned to Ghana from Canada within the last few years. 

"I guess she must have lost touch with her family there. She became homeless and that's how she was on the streets of Accra," says Boachie-Yiadom.

She and her sisters want to bring their mother home, but, because she has no documents or identification, it's so far been impossible. She says the Canadian government has been of little help.

The sisters are raising money and plan to travel to Ghana this week. 

"By bringing her back and having the four sisters be able to take care of her, we feel that would be really fundamental in helping her get better."

They have started a fundraising page to raise money to pay for their mother's medical bills. 

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