James Ojo, Abuja
For caregivers and operators of orphanage homes, the search for knowledge to improve and secure the future of vulnerable children in their care prompted the Coalition of Orphanages and Children Homes in Nigeria (COCHIN), to assemble for a one-day training where issues pertaining orphans were dissected in a manner that opened new frontiers on how to define the future of these children living in homes different from where they were born.
The coalition, made up of 35 homes from different parts of the Federal Capital Territory were put together by Senator Eze Ajoku, who saw the need to come together as proprietors of orphanages and homes to support programmes and initiatives aimed at guaranteeing the future of children in such homes.
Before the workshop proper, he reminded members of the coalition what was expected of them, which among others was to serve as a frontier to ensure that children as well as their caregivers are protected and to have access to welfare programmes of governments at all levels. He added that the coalition became necessary in view of sordid developments whereby some orphanages have lent themselves to all sorts of activities including illegally giving out of children and reviving children without the involvement of Social Welfare Department of government establishments.
Another rising ugly incidents capable of denting the image of those running orphanages and children homes, were incidents whereby some orphanages are becoming a breeding ground for sex traffickers and other unacceptable practices. He reminded them: “The coalition was formed to checkmate such vices by members and to support and encourage caregivers and orphanage owners to give their best in service for these children.”
Attendance at the workshop was very impressive as only few orphanages and homes were not on the list of participants as at the time for tea break, although, most proprietors sent representatives, which Ajoku observed was even better because “this training is for the practical caregivers who are with the children every minutes of the day.” Participants were taken through the objectives, vision, mission and goals of the coalition and how to achieve and maintained standards in all registered homes
For instance, the coalition developed an operational manual and code of conduct for operators of homes and orphanages with the best interest of the child as a biding core principle that must never be compromised. The procedures for admission and intake of new child involved medical examination within 24 hours of placement and a written copy of the results of such examination kept in a file opened for developmental history, this is to be followed by shower or bath, provision of clean clothing.
Apart from the provision of basic needs like shelter for the females and males separately, furniture,health services, food and nutrition, staffing and keeping of records of children and staff, basic rights of the child were the issues that dominated the workshop.
Maryam Atteh, who runs an orphanage in Gwagwalada said the training opened her to new developments in the caregiving service, which she noted would bring a turnaround at improving the service delivering for the children in her care. She was optimistic that such training would have positive impact in the orphanages, adding that such training should be made regular as more people are opening homes for children and there was urgent need to have an entry point in standardization of what to provide in terms of infrastructure and manpower to make the homes habitable for the children.
She called on government to have a rethink in supporting homes founded and funded by kind hearted people: “I believe we need the support of government in providing the needs of the children who were picked from the streets to help reshape their future. They were part of the society and with a bright future, they will contribute their own quota to the development of the society, such talent will not be buried.”
Mrs. Mohammed works in one of the orphanages at Area 1 Garki, she commended the organizers of the training: “Running an orphanage and home is not a profitable venture. It is just out of sympathy and milk of kindness that will make someone to assemble children from different families and circumstances and continued to provide daily needs to make life meaningful, government should support such homes as a means of social services to the vulnerable children.”