NC woman fights child abuse in Zahra Baker’s name, The Zahra Project

December 6, 2010

HICKORY, N.C. — Kristie Pope decided to create an organization to help fight child abuse after hearing about a 10-year-old disabled girl whose remains were found weeks after she was reported missing.

The Hickory Daily News reported Sunday that Pope started The Zahra Project in memory of Zahra Baker who needed hearing aids and had a prosthetic leg after a battle with cancer. Police are investigating her death as a homicide and no one has been charged with killing her.

Zahra Baker’s stepmother has been charged with obstruction, accused of faking a ransom note to mislead investigators. Elisa Baker also told authorities that Zahra’s body was dismembered after she died. No cause of death has been publicly revealed.

Pope, a 40-year-old mother of three, says 6,000 people are following The Zahra Project that she started on Facebook in October.Neighbors and relatives have said that Elisa Baker had a short temper and was abusive toward her stepdaughter. Caldwell County Department of Social Services investigated the family because Zahra went to school with bruises and a teacher alerted school officials, who have said they are prohibited by law from discussing the case.

“I wanted to get people together who were sick of watching how DSS has failed kids,” Pope said.Pope, a dog trainer who lives in Greensboro, was in Hickory for a dog show when Zahra was reported missing.”It was the closeness of it. It was just up the street from me,” she said. “Here I was, showing my dog and I wondered if I could have made better use of my time.“Part of the goal of The Zahra Project is to get legislation written to try to prevent the deaths of children from abuse.”I think there were a lot of people thinking like I was, wishing we could make a change,” Pope said. “There are strengths in numbers, and we can make a change. We just have to get all our resources together.”As Pope envisions it, “Zahra’s Bill” would create tougher penalties for people who abuse children and would punish parents or legal guardians if they are present when someone else abuses their child among other things.

 

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: