Life has been described unpredictable by many and as humans we encourage ourselves to plan for the future and put things in place should the unexpected happen. The road accident that killed a police officer, his pregnant wife, a two year old daughter and a nephew in June is a clear testimony of this.
A bouncing baby boy who was born at the time of the accident and the driver survived, according to the story. The driver has been treated and discharged and hopefully, (since we haven’t heard much about the baby) the boy has been claimed by immediate family members of the late couple—notwithstanding, this baby boy will forever be addressed as an orphan by society.
Who is an orphan?
The Press Centre of the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) defines an orphan as a child who has lost one or both parents. According to the centre, as of 2005, there were over 132 million orphans in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. In Ghana, The Minister, Nana Oye Lither, heading the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, and its related Agencies, is working with her team to ensure that all children in the country are protected under the law. Last year, the ministry drafted and launched a number of key policies and legal structures, including, the Early Childhood Care and Development Policy; Children and Family Welfare Policy; Justice Policy; and Child Adoption and Foster Regulations.
A report presented by the minister last year revealed, the Ministry is better monitoring the operation of charity homes and orphanages in the country, thus, over 200 uncertified homes and orphanages have been shut down and it is no longer giving licenses for new orphanages to be started. The Ministry is caring for 800 orphans, providing temporary shelters for them, training 1,406 caregivers across the country, and very importantly— focusing on reuniting about 2,234 children with their families, for proper nurturing, supervision and foster caring.
It is good to know that a number of social groups in the country are working with the Ministry and its agencies to better the living conditions of our young ones. One of such organizations is Ghana Without Orphans: a movement that believes that it is paramount for orphans, especially, to be raised as children of stable households or families. Institutionalizing children who have lost one or both parents in orphanages is not the way to go if as a country our vision is to raise children with secure self-esteem and real sense of belonging integral for social development. Children must grow knowing that they are cared for and orphans, especially, must not feel the disparity.
Ghana Without Orphans is an offshoot of the global Movement, World Without Orphans (WWO). Pastor George Abidoo, the National Coordinator, has been working with his team since 2014,by mobilizing key stakeholders including Government, Churches, NGO’s, Corporate Bodies, Civic Society and Traditional chiefs; engaging them in fruitful dialogues, strategizing and implementing best practices on how to advance care for orphans in the country. The Movement launched Orphan Sunday in September, last year, endorsed by the Department of Social Welfare as a day worth celebrating nationally.
In March this year, the Movement launched the ‘Foster Care Month’ to create public awareness and mobilize churches nationwide to celebrate and honour foster parents ; followed with a Foster Care Children’s march and funfair in partnership with TV3 Network, which register 3,200 people, comprising 530 orphans, parents and pupils from the various basic schools. Deputy Director and Head of Family Welfare Unit of the Department of Social Development, Mr. Fred Sakyi Boafo, at the launch noted, child protection sought to guarantee the rights of all children to a life free from violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect, adding, the effectiveness of child protection depended on elements such as appropriate policies, legislation and regulations, supportive social norms, efficient fiscal management and sufficient resource allocation.
Ghana Without Orphans is preparing to hold its maiden Foster Parental Training Meeting, in partnership with the Department of Social Welfare and the Bethany Christian Services, come 30th of this month. It will follow with a Children’s Peace March and Funfair, in partnership with TV3 and is therefore calling on interested stakeholders to get in touch and be part of their initiatives because Ghana without Orphans is possible if we will come together and work towards it. No child should grow up feeling left out.