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Orphanage Report 2007

Report on Visit to St Joseph's Orphanage in Jirapa Uwr, Ghana

By Gai McKenzie.

On 23rd of October, myself and three other members of FREED UK, Glenda Singlehurst, Lillian Crane and Kim Faulkner travelled the 18 miles from Nandom to Jirapa to visit St Josephs' Orphanage on a fact finding mission. The orphanage was built approximately 3 years ago by an ex-Nandom orphan now living in Italy.

The orphanage is home to 26 babies and children and is run by the Catholic Church. One in eight mothers die in childbirth in northern Ghana and diseases like HIV and malaria are common, leaving many babies orphaned.Children in the orphanage at Jirapa

When a mother dies the father or remaining family members may place a baby in the orphanage. We discovered that at the age of five the children are sometimes returned to their families although this is not always possible.

We found the orphanage to be understaffed with only 2 untrained women looking after both babies and children ranging in ages from newborn to ten years old.

Child in the orphanage playing with toysBasic equipment such as sheets, blankets, nappies and toys were non-existent. Food and medicine were in extremely short supply and sanitary conditions were poor, as was hygiene. The orphans did not receive any mental stimulation at all and were lacking in basic play skills. They were extremely quick to learn and very eager when we gave them toys and bricks to play with.

 With HIV/AIDS on the increase in Ghana, many more children will be orphaned over the next 5 years. It is estimated that by 2010, half of all orphans will have become orphans because of HIV/AIDS.


Future Plans

In the short term our objectives are:

  1. To improve hygiene at the orphanage by educating the carers. The building itself is very reasonable, quite large and is set in good sized grounds but would benefit from the walls and floors being thoroughly cleaned and repainted. The outside play area could be improved but is safe as a high wall surrounds the compound.
  2. Educate and fund at least one carer to work at the orphanage to encourage and stimulate the children and train other workers to do the same.
  3. Provide pre-schooling and basic education. Ensure that every child has essentials such as a bed, sheets, meals and mental stimulation. Some outdoor play equipment to encourage the children to spend time outdoors.
  4. Train and provide staff at Jirapa orphanage to take care of the children's needs.
  5. Provide regular checks for the children by trained nurses at Nandom Hospital.
  6. To undertake fundraising to provide and sustain the above.A toy fallen at the bottom of some concrete steps
  7. Integration into a local community is the final objective so that the children are not isolated and separated from their roots and religion.

The orphanage "team" understand that small improvements can only be made as fundraising becomes available and that long term commitment to this project is required. Even small improvements will have a positive impact on all these lovely children.