Christians in Ghana have been urged to commemorate this year’s International Orphan Sunday, which falls on November 11.
The day, which is celebrated annually on the second Sunday of November, is an occasion to pray for orphans as well as organizing of activities geared towards their welfare.
Bishop David Kwadwo Ofosuhene, National Director of the International Christian Cooperative Ministries (ICCM), initiators of the Orphan Sunday, told the Ghana News Agency that the day was an advocacy Sunday dedicated to the care of orphans.
Bishop Ofosuhene said it was about time that churches took the issues of orphans more seriously by including orphan welfare related activities in their annual programmes to sensitize their congregation on the need to support orphans and vulnerable children and appreciate their needs in society.
He noted that it was not enough for religious organizations to once a while donate used clothing to orphanages, but must rather see it as a daily activity by fostering some of them and needy children.
He suggested that they could adopt an orphanage and help provide some of its needs as well as sponsor the education of inmates to enable them feel loved by society.
Bishop Ofosuhene, who is also the Chairman of Hearts of the Father Outreach (a home of refuge for orphans) in Ningo-Prampram District, said some ideas that could be implemented on the Orphan Sunday were reading on orphan care, giving offering towards purchasing items for orphanages, planning of a service project to benefit an adoptive or foster family, among others.
He indicated that in Ghana, ICCM in collaboration with Ghana Without Orphans, was organizing a week-long activities towards the Orphan Sunday.
The activities included meet the press, visitation to orphanages, radio discussions on orphan care, prayer night and games’ day.
Madam Augustina Nartey, Ningo-Prampram District Director of the Department of Social Welfare and Community Development, on her part, said her outfit recognized any child below 18 years who had lost at least one of the parents as an orphan adding that vulnerable children were also a concern for the Department.
Madam Nartey said the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection was currently discouraging institutional based care for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) therefore shifting to family based care.
She explained that research had shown that OVCs trained in orphanages or shelter homes turned to be stigmatized leading to their isolation from the mainstream of society.
She added that there was also limited linkage between the governmental institutions and some orphanages noting that some community members also refused to volunteer information to the department and the Domestic Violence Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service abuses against the OVCs in the shelters.
According to her, the Department encourages extended relatives of OVCs to take care of the children saying children living on the street and other vulnerable kids had extended family members.
She said the public could also apply to the Social Welfare to foster such children while their relatives were being looked for to take over their care.
She cautioned the public against taking advantage of OVC, but rather show love to them adding that those who go round to take money and items in the name of orphans was engaging in an illegality.