Ostracise children in the north attracts SOS
5/16/2012 6:00:42 PM -
A GNA feature by Albert Oppong-Ansah
Tamale, May, 15, GNA - Progressively but certainly Airtel, a leading telecom provider in Ghana is rolling out a life saving package for deformed children in the Northern Region, who otherwise were at the mercy of superstition.
Faced by alleged harassment, banishment and the ultimate penalty of death by being deformed, the painful plight of the children caught the attention of Airtel Touching Lives, a TV programme series aimed at transforming lives.
This was less than a year the Ghana News Agency (GNA) wrote an article that exposed the shocking situation the children found themselves.
The story highlighted the common belief among some communities in some parts of the north that children born with deformities are 'spirit children' and considered too evil or a taboo to be sheltered or catered for.
Thankfully the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs is preparing feverishly to commence a campaign with other stakeholders to educate communities where such activities are going on.
Speaking to the GNA, Hajia Hawa Boya Gariba Deputy sector Minister said the campaign would be in the form of educating opinion leaders, assembly, unit and committee members against the practice.
Another component would be a show of video documentaries in the various communities to give credence to the fact that if given the necessary assistance and attention; deformed people could contribute greatly to the development of their communities.
'This issue is a very sensitive one because it deals with people's perception and beliefs, therefore, there is the need for one to be cautious when dealing with it,' she said.
Children often targeted are babies with distinguished features like beard, pubic hair, double sex organs (hermaphrodites), protruding eyes, abnormally large heads or inability to talk and walk after age three to six years.
Other children who bear societal stigma are those who constantly bite their mother's breast during breast feeding, are born during famine or whose mothers die during delivery.
It is alleged that most of these children are killed or abandoned to their fate. In some instances, poisonous concoctions are forced down their throats after which, they are left in a grove or forest to die.
The parents and relatives of these children have no say with regards to the killings because it is a communal belief, which they are mandated to comply with.
About 30 of the social outcasts have been rescued and temporarily housed by the Reverend Senior Stan Therese Mario Mumuni, at Sang, 110 kilometres from the Regional capital, Tamale, who expressed profound gratitude to the GNA and Airtel Ghana for the support.
Currently, the Airtel Touching Lives launched in November 2010, is to provide educational materials, a bore hole, an oven, clothing and shoes and a provision shop to the shelter and also carry out renovation at the facility among other interventions.
Maame Dufia Cudjo, Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility & Talent Acquisition at Airtel Ghana told the GNA that the initiative is opened to all who are not even on the Airtel network.
'The concept of touching lives involves the creating of an opportunity for Ghanaians to nominate people they know who are going an extra mile to make a difference in the lives of others in their families and communities,' she said.
Maame Dufie said one after the other and in a manner to demonstrate the commitments made, Airtel has honoured its launch promises both in the delivery of top-notch services and in the area of corporate social responsibility, proving it is a worthy ally committed to giving back to its communities.
Airtel Touching Lives is a 13-part TV show which aims to change the lives of people living in trying circumstances by giving them an opportunity to fulfill their lifelong dreams.
Targeting individuals and communities with a story to tell Airtel offers a platform to celebrate humanity whilst inspiring hope and enhancing people's quality of life.
The show which identifies extraordinary men and women from all walks of life with dire needs enable them to change their lives with Airtel's support geared towards ensuring a sustainable livelihood.
It was introduced to give a positive touch to the lives of Ghanaians and to offer them a lifetime opportunity to change their living conditions for the better and, by extension, contribute to the wellbeing of the citizenry.
Whilst commending Airtel for the timely intervention, other public-spirited individuals and organisations are welcome on board for 'half a loaf (is surely) better than none'.
No loaf is too big or too small when measured with love and compassion to transform the lives of the vulnerable in the society.