Inmates of the orphanage Barely two weeks after the closure of Grace Omaboe alias Maame Dokono's Peace and Love Orphanage in Accra, the Department of Social Welfare has closed down another orphanage at Apowa, near Takoradi.
The well-known orphanage, Orphan Cry International (OCI) in Sekondi-Takoradi, was closed down about 4:30pm last Thursday following an alleged sexual harassment against the children by some of the teachers and other workers of the home.
Officials of the Social Welfare and the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service stormed the orphanage to effect closure after investigations into the alleged sexual harassment had been confirmed.
Investigations conducted by DAILY GUIDE revealed that OCI did not have the license to operate an orphanage.
According to sources at the Western Regional office of the Department of Social Welfare, the owner of the orphanage, Vivian Young, was licensed to operate only a non-governmental organization (NGO) not an orphanage, and that the said licence which expired in 2007 had since not been renewed.
When DAILY GUIDE got to the premises of the orphanage at about 5 pm on Thursday, Social Welfare officials were seen helping to evacuate the children and their belongings into a mini bus.
In an interview, Joana Mensah, Western Regional Director of the Social Welfare confirmed that Madam Young did not have clearance to operate an orphanage. She also confirmed that her NGO licence had expired since 2007.
As to why the Department had taken that action, Madam Mensah noted that apart from the alleged sexual harassment at the home, information gathered by her outfit was that the children were being maltreated by management daily.
She alleged that the children sometimes received curses from the manageress of the home for no apparent reason, a situation she said could cause them emotional and psychological trauma.
She indicated that the owner of the home had allegedly been going round the community luring pregnant women and giving them forms to fill to the effect that they would send their children to the home after delivery for proper care and upbringing.
The Regional Director added that instead of the orphanage taking good care of the children, it rather subjected them to all sorts of inhumane treatment, saying the children were warned not to tell people about their ordeal.
She said her outfit had contacted parents of 20 out of the 41 children whose ages ranged between eight months and 16 years, and that the parents had expressed their readiness to take their children back after being briefed about events at the orphanage.
She indicated that the other 21 children who were complete orphans would be sent to licenced orphanages for proper care, and pointed out that the Department of Social Welfare would continue with the exercise to flush out all questionable orphanages.
Madam Young, owner of the orphanage, denied all the allegations levelled against her, the orphanage and the teachers.
She noted that she had documents covering all the children at the orphanage, even though she did not show them to this paper.
She was however hopeful that the children would be taken good care of wherever they would be sent to.
From Emmanuel Opoku, Apowa