By Bessem Ebai & Kimboline Ngoh*
Abandoned children are the most helpless and frequent victims of violence, diseases, malnutrition and death. Without support from their families, these children are exposed to frightening dangers of abduction and sexual exploitation.
Shockingly, there are over 20 million abandoned or homeless children in the world today and a majority of them are orphans, many of whom have been traumatised by watching the ruthless murder of their parents or by helplessly watching them die of AIDS or starvation with no one to help them. Most of these abandoned children resort to eating available scrap as they emotionally and physically wander about the streets with lost hopes.
A visit to the Saint Valentine Orphanage proved that these children suffer a lot of stigma in school and in their neighbourhood, leading to inferiority complex in them. Henry Ondaakwunda whose name means “no body has deprived you”, who has been part of this Orphanage for ten years said: “I encountered my greatest challenge in school, GHS Bokwango, when I became a laughing point among my friends because I was from the Orphanage.
I was termed ‘outcast’; not fit to interact with them because I had no family to back me up since I was separated from my sisters and never saw them again,” he explained how disheartening it was.
Yet, Ondaakwunda is very grateful to the Orphanage that took good care of him. Volunteers came in constantly with Father John Morina from Holland as the main actor. Also, Ms. Rina from Canada provided food for the Orphanage and extended her hand of support to the school for the deaf. Ondaakwunda mentioned that Christians came in from time to time to chip in what they got and the Orphanage survived.
He added that Hon. Paul Ayah is the Proprietor of this Orphanage and does not allow breastfeeding children as no one will possibly be able to look after and breastfeed them. The Orphanage that has never had more than 50 persons presently has nine children, all going to school. Though Abandoned Children’s Fund has not forgotten these helpless children, parents should know the stigma associated with abandoning a child.
An interview with Sylvia Ebai, a parent, shows that irresponsibility engineers abandonment. She says: “All parents should be able to handle their responsibility and should not have babies if they are not ready for them as this ruins innocent lives.” According to Ebai, family planning is provided in the hospital for parents to help avoid child abandonment.
Another parent, Therese Abit, said: “People abandon their children either because they don’t earn enough to take care of children or they are just not interested in having children at the time that they do. Young girls, for example, believe that when they give birth, they become old fashioned to boys and so abandon their babies in the fear that they won’t have suitors, not to talk of a husband, as many men will go for girls who don’t yet have children.
*(National Polytechnic Students on Internship)