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14.06.2005 Regional News

200,000 children turned orphans in 20 districts due to HIV/AIDS

GNA

Somanya (E/R), June 14, GNA- The Ghana AIDS Commission's (GAC) research last year indicated that parents who have died of HIV/AIDS in 20 districts in the country had left behind about 200,000 orphans. The Minister of Women and Children Affairs, Hajia Alima Mahama, disclosed this at Somanya at a meeting on Monday with heads of department as part of her one-day tour of orphanages in the Yilo Krobo and Manya Krobo Districts.

As part of his tour, Hajia Mahama visited the Manya Krobo Queen mothers Association Resource Centre at Odumase-Krobo, the NECTAR Orphanage at Nuaso and HUGS Tender Children Orphanage at Somanya. She remarked that the GAC research findings indicated that the issue of orphans in the country was becoming serious and measures were needed to be put in place to contain the situation before it got worse in the face of "collapsing of the normal family structures that used to support orphans in the society." Hajia Mahama called on District Assemblies to find a way of improving the economic standards of their people to help strengthen the family systems to be able to play the role expected of them in supporting orphans. She also advised the Assemblies to draw the attention of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) that show interest in the care and support for orphans in their districts.

Hajia Mahama advised the management of private orphanages to develop gradually and take on the numbers of orphans that they could effectively manage. She asked them to desist from establishing separate schools for the orphans but rather enrol them into the normal schools to help reduce the issue of stigmatisation. Hajia Mahama congratulated the Manya Krobo Queenmothers Association for their role in supporting over 1,000 orphans in the Manya Krobo Traditional Area to enjoy a normal life.

At the Manya Krobo Queenmothers Association Resource Centre, the Deputy Paramount Queen Mother of the association, Manye Nartekie said the association, which was established in 1989, was now providing care and support for 1,035 under its Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) project. She said the association had been able to get sponsorship from the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) for 400 of the children and is looking for similar sponsorships for the remaining children.

Manye Nartekie appealed for support for the acquisition of means of transportation to enable the association to effectively monitor and supervise the children since the activities of the association covered both the Lower and Upper Manya communities.

The Yilo Krobo District Social Welfare Officer, Ms Augustina Nartey, said the district has 3,000 orphans but only 100 of them were being taken care of in the two orphanages in the district with the Somanya community taking care of 55 while 45 are in the Huhunya Orphanage. She said some times, caregivers of the orphans in the community do approach her office for support but the office lacked the resources to provide the required support.

At the HUGS Tender Children Orphanage, the Director of the Orphanage, Mr Adjetey Olan, expressed the appreciation of the orphanage to Mr F. K. Adams of Felkwams Farms, the Langmasi Traditional Rulers Association and other benevolent groups for donating various items to support the efforts of the orphanage.

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