The dilemma about the orphans in orphanages in Africa
Among all the needy groups our activities and volunteer in Africa work, orphans are the most vulnerable, orphans from poor communities
Among all the needy groups our activities and volunteer in Africa work, orphans are the most vulnerable, orphans from poor communities.
In 2004 when we started placing volunteers in Africa, we were running a program that provided capacity building to orphanages and our volunteer in Africa programs included placing volunteers in orphanages in Africa to help support the orphanages provide better care for the orphans. Placing volunteers in an orphanage in Africa was also another strategy of forming bonds between volunteers and orphans and encouraging care and educational sponsorship adoption for orphans in Africa. Through these volunteer opportunities we created in Africa, orphans got a kind of substitute mother, father, sister or brother in the volunteer volunteering in the orphanage. This project of placing a volunteer in Africa in an orphanage was wonderful and helped transform lives of many orphans. Then came two problems with the orphanages and for the orphanage volunteer placement program;
1) Orphans turning 21 who were supposed to move on from the orphanages were finding it difficult. They didn’t know anyone from their hometown, family member or friends outside the orphanage, they usually felt they do not belong to the society outside; it was true for 84% of those who were studied in three countries, Ghana, Liberia and Kenya. Then together with other organizations and government bodies, consultations began on finding solution.
2) With more support coming to orphanages in Africa, the institution became a business for many people; orphanages rapidly rose in every corner and largely concentrated near the cities whereas the problems actually are worse in the hinterlands. Operators looked for more children to populate their poor deplorable facilities. As we saw children in deplorable facilities, we were moved to improve structures and provide more help. Through our volunteers working in the orphanages in Africa, we became aware that operators were canvasing poor communities and persuading poor parents to give up their children to stay in their ‘orphanage’ with promises of better life for these children.