The Ghana Without Orphans (GWO), a Christian Movement has launched the Orphan Sunday, an initiative which aims at creating awareness and sensitizing the public on the need to support orphans and vulnerable children in society.
The event which is marked on every first Sunday of November each year, reminds Christians around the world to celebrate the love of God; who ‘defends the cause of the fatherless’ and calls us to do same.
This year’s event would be marked on Sunday, November 8, on the theme: “Defend the Cause of the Fatherless”.
Events lined up for the celebration include sermons and Sunday School Classes on God’s heart for the orphan, prayer gatherings, fasts and simple meals, student- led fundraisers, foster family recruiting, live concerts and visit to orphanages.
Mrs Comfort Asare, the Director, Department of Social Development, in a speech read on her behalf at the launch in Accra by her Deputy, Mr Fred Sakyi Boafo, noted that, Ghana now had the Child and Family Welfare Policy, a policy which was launched in July, 2015.
She explained that the policy seeks to establish a well- structured child and family welfare system, whereas, its overall goal was to help formulate child and family welfare programmes and activities to effectively prevent and protect children from all forms of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.
“The policy recognizes a child as a person below the age of 18 years, in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the 1992 fourth Republican Constitution of Ghana (Article 28) and the Children’s Act, 1998 (Section 1)” she stated.
Mrs Asare said as part of efforts to address poverty and strengthen families, her Department had initiated a project at Tema Manhean, christened: ‘From Street to School Project”, and aims at identifying children in need of care and protection especially those who roam about at the canoe fishing harbor.
She observed that the initiative, which took off in August, 2015, was to ensure that all children, who have dropped out of school due to poverty and other unfortunate conditions, were enrolled in school.
The Director therefore, commended GWO, and emphasised that the annual event will motivate all to double up efforts at helping orphaned and vulnerable children to move from a state of hopelessness to a state of hope.
In his presentation, Reverend George Abaidoo, National Coordinator of GWO, said each local Orphan Sunday event was created by local believers in their local church, as such, events varied as much as the people and churches were involved.
He said GWO had the mandate to restore orphans and vulnerable children to their relatives or adoptive/ foster Christian families; focusing mainly on children, who have been abused, neglected, homeless, exploited and also emancipating to independence from orphanage care.
Rev Abaidoo said across the world more than one billion children were exposed to violence and 152 million were considered orphans, again, at least seven million of them literally had no one in their lives and needs a permanent family.
He said a research had demonstrated that institutional care was not the best solution for the development of children and could even be damaging to a child’s ability to lead a healthy and reproductive life.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency, the National Coordinator of GWO said the Movement was advocating that orphanages should not serve as permanent places for vulnerable children, but rather an emergency placement where orphans could exit within six months, to their foster families, however, the Church could easily spearhead the campaign of establishing the link between families and orphans in the society.
He said GWO was initiating the ‘Foster Care Month’ in March, an annual programme, which will sensitize people, who have once being fostered to come out and share their experience and as well appreciate the efforts of their foster parents.
Rev Abaidoo again noted that ‘Community Without Orphans’ was among its projects; where they expected all churches and corporate bodies within the various communities, to come together in ensuring that there are no orphans and vulnerable children in the community.