The Osu Children's Home, a facility intended to offer temporary shelter for abandoned or abused children or children of mentally ill parents, is under pressure of becoming a permanent home for many children who do not fall in the prescribed categories.
The Manageress of the home, Ms Obeng-Asamoah, attributed the explosion in inmate population to irresponsible parents and relatives who turned their backs on the home as soon as they read or heard in the media that their children had been taken there.
“A lot of children admitted to the home have parents, relatives and guardians who shirk their responsibilities towards them as soon as they hear that the home has taken custody of such children,” she lamented.
Ms Obeng-Asamoah said in 2006, about 154 children, aged from 0-9 years, were admitted under various circumstances.
She added that from the beginning of this year, 15 missing children had been added to the number of inmates at the home, noting that currently the home had about 150
children, with much congestion at the Babies Unit.
“The Babies Unit is now the most congested in the home, with more than 38 babies. Under normal circumstances, we need to have not more than 20 babies in a room," she added.
Ms Obeng-Asamoah stated that as a result of the increase in the number of inmates at the unit, the room was congested, with little ventilation, saying that could pose health related problems.
The latest addition to Madam Obeng-Asamoah's lot is Kofi, the missing boy reported in the Saturday, May 26, 2007 issue of the Daily Graphic.
She said most of the children were brought to the home under strange circumstances and she found it impossible to reject them, especially those brought in by the Department of Social Welfare, sometimes in collaboration with the police.
She said some parents deliberately neglected and abandoned their children and in the process those children got missing.
She was, however, quick to add that when such parents realised that the children were in the custody of the home, “then that becomes the end of the matter. They do not show up to claim their children”.
Ms Obeng-Asamoah said such negligence on the part of parents was unfortunate, explaining that even more burdensome was the situation of the children growing into adults, since telling them where they came from became difficult.
“It is unfortunate the way parents are now shirking their responsibilities to the home when these children have parents or relatives who are very much alive and can take care of them. It is not fair because this is not a permanent institution,” she pointed out.
As a result of her motherly love for children, she said, she handled such cases with no bitterness but called on parents, especially mothers who abandoned their children at the expense of the home, to take responsibility of their children, since the problem was becoming legion.
Story by Maria Alberta Viala