Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. Ex 22:22
In 2008, I decided to do a voluntary work in an orphanage in Dome
The owner is a very beautiful woman and soft spoken. She came across some discarded toys and books and a voice said to her, children in Africa will need these. Why don’t you start an orphanage. This happened when she was working at a nursing home in UK according to her. So she stopped the job, came to Africa, Ghana to start giving hope to the orphans.
The hope orphanage started with 10 kids and my duty was to take care of the physical needs of the children and help with administrative work. Staffs included a nanny, a marketing officer, a cook and a labourer. The orphanage also had guest volunteers from overseas
Oneday, the stay in nanny decided to quit. Her reasons were that, the orphanage was not properly ran according to the approved government standards. Besides she’s being underpaid. The nanny performed the role of a mother to the children. She supervised and ensured discipline at the orphanage
With the consent of the owner, I decided to be a temporary stay in nanny until a replacement is found. Coming to stay at the orphanage was an eye opener to the challenges at the orphanage
Children were underfed and malnourished. Balanced diet was last on the menu. Rice water for breakfast. Rice and gravy with a piece of salmon at lunch and something less appetising in the evening
Cleaner failed to clean the children’s room. An Infested mice and cocroach kitchen and workers under paid. The guests from overseas were left unattended to. Children were physically and verbally abused by the workers.
Finally, I noticed that the owner never cared if they died. She paid no attention to them, no physical contact with the children. She’s simply feared by the children
I approached her with my aforementioned challenges. Her response; “I’m weary and have lost interest in running the orphanage. There are no funds and the strength to go on is lost. Then she decided to take a leave, leaving the running of the orphanage in my young care
Then i said to myself, this is my opportunity to make a change. I lent my fridge to the orphanage to preserve the foodstuffs which was left to rot. With the help of the cook, we cleaned the kitchen. We developed a balanced menu which includes snacks
I organised the children to help clean the whole orphanage and washed their clothings. I also introduced siesta and on Sundays, took them to nearby church services. There, the children had the opportunity to make friends with other kids. The churches made donations to the orphanage to my utter surprise at a time the owner claimed there was no support
The owner returned one afternoon, fuming with rage about the changes. She called me and gave me a serious talk of my life on how orphanages are ran in Ghana. She said ” I’m very disappointed in you. Who told you orphanages are ran that way. We run orphanages for profit in Ghana. That’s what we do. This revelation sent shivers my single spine. I was shocked, disappointed and heart broken. She intentionally fed the children poor diet for the overseas guests to believe they were poor so they can send more money.
Machiavelli once said;
There is nothing more difficult
To carry out, nor more
Dangerous to handle than to
Initiate a new order of doing things
For there are enemies who profit by the old order
I quit and things changed to the former. I then received an appointment to the ministries as an Assistant Management Analyst
A year later the orphanage was closed due to widespread scandals in running orphanages in the country.
I later found out that, only 2 of the children at the hope orphanage were actually orphans. The rest were reunited with their families
Then I remembered; One of the children, named Felicia used to tell me about her family back in a village in Brong Ahafo but was overwhelmed with the responsibility of giving hope to the place.
There was also a 4 year old Kelvin who often told me about his father
Sometimes, I sit down and wonder why I never suspected anything fishy.
Maybe its because I never went there to investigate but was there to lend hope to an orphan
Till now, I’ve never been able to volunteer at an orphanage because of fear-fear of what I will see.