Anas Aremeyaw Anas Reports From Echoing Hill Village, Accra, Ghana
Echoing Hills Village, a high hill echoing to a vertiginous whirl of vices, venom, villainy and voracious avarice; a moral vacuum, a village vacant of virtue, vitiated by vitriolic abuse; the victims, very often, the very vulnerable vagrants the Village vouches to rescue from the vicious vagaries of life!
Prison, Detention and Neglect thought to be words connected to criminals in our society are gradually becoming synonymous with the Echoing Hills Village; the orphanage home that was established to provide some comfort for the disabled, abused and the needy in our society; as inmates are subjected to long hours of detention for the slightest of offences in the home. This detention and neglect in Echoing Hills Village results in a lot of unfortunate incidents and one of such is an orphan who was seen eating his own faeces in the home’s artificial prison.
The victim, the reason for whose detention is not known to us, was captured in a secret filming eating his own faeces from what looked like a diaper spread in front of him. It was a sad spectacle of total chaos as the other child inmates looked on in amazement while others run around beating the weaker ones.
Neglected and Detained Child Defecate On Himself
In another incident, one disabled child, who had been detained from morning, was left to wallow in his faeces, with all the stench. The caregivers never bothered to attend to this child, as he struggled along all day, naked and grubby.
Beating Children till They Are Injured
In a related development, a disabled boy had his head injured from a severe beating by a belt-wielding caretaker. The caretaker pulled and pushed this defenceless boy here and there till he had him cornered and sprawling on the floor in a room. The bully mercilessly beat the unfortunate boy with the metal hook of the belt till he started bleeding from his head. A misfortune can sometimes be a blessing; and it was in this case, as the assailant, who had had been stone-cold to the boy’s frantic pleas and shrieks, ended the punishment only after his victim began to bleed. At the sight of the blood, the abuser quickly whisked the boy to the bathroom and poured water onto the bleeding head as he held the boy’s hand to the wound to wash off the blood. The man later explained that he beat the boy because he was troublesome.
Donation from Orca Deco and Latex Foam
From our investigation, we realised that Echoing Hills Village enjoys a lot of goodwill among charity organisations and individual philanthropists, on the evidence of the donations that pour in almost every day. For instance, it was one of five orphanage homes chosen by Orca Deco for a bedroom furniture donation during the company’s 15th Anniversary celebration. It also received mattresses worth GHS 12,750.00 from Latex Foam.
Reaction from Rev Lamina Lawrence
In reacting to whether his outfit had ever recorded any examples of extreme cases of abuse or neglect and discovered by the Department of Social Welfare, Mr Lamina in affirmative explained that his outfit took charge of a four-year old boy given to them by DOVSSU who never screened the boy before handing him over to the Echoing Hills Village, hence, never realized the boy was a psychiatric patience. According to him, the said boy whose name was later given as James, sometimes eases on himself and feeds on the faeces when there’s no one around. The boy would also sometimes feed on any other item he picks from the ground, he continued. “Oh! Yes. There was a case that was referred here (involving) a child who is about four years. And that child’s condition was psychiatric related. So, when the child was brought here, in the first place the child was brought here from DOVSSU. They themselves didn’t do what we call screening on the child but when the child was referred here we realized that he had a medical condition in such a way that when he passes out and there’s no one around, he himself will feed on his faeces. And also, he picks anything from the ground and eat and soils himself if there’s nobody around. And if there’s nobody around and he soils himself, he begins to feed on it. …Like he’s been starved in such a way that he has to pass out and feed on his faeces himself,” he explained.
He, however, claimed that the boy’s situation was reported to the Department of Social Welfare to relocate the boy to a medical facility where doctors can attend to him but the request wasn’t worked on as the Department also feared the cost involved. “Even we put this request to Social Welfare to relocate this child but they were also looking at the cost which never happened”, he claimed.
He also added that this situation was witnessed and reported to the authorities by some German Volunteers but the authorities after investigating the matter understood and agreed with the managers of orphanage that the managers of the orphanage were not to be faulted for the boy’s behavior. “We had some volunteers from Germany who came to work here and there was a case that was referred here (involving) a child who is about four years. And that child’s condition was psychiatric related but these volunteers didn’t know. … And if there’s nobody around and he soils himself, he begins to feed on it. So, this Germans saw this child and they took some pictures (of him) and reported that the child was not been given food. But they (the Department of Social Welfare) understood when they came in to find out when they had the report. They came here to do their own investigation and they realized that the report was not true. This child is not hungry and has not been starved but it’s just that he has a medical condition but the volunteers didn’t know about that’, he added.
The Reverend Minister also on the issues of excessive abuse said it’s only the leadership of the home who are mandated to punish the children and even with that they only give work to the children to do and not beating or caning of children as that is only done when waking children up for school in the morning. “As I said, only the leadership (has been) given the mandate and personally, I caned them. Not in terms of may be stealing or fighting or that kind of (reasons) but it’s like they need to go to school by 7 o’clock. You need to wake up by six, get ready and then go to school but (by) 7 o’clock they‘ll be still sleeping, and then I cane them”, he claimed.
He also said that outsiders only misinterpret their punishment to the children as abuse since they don’t understand the culture and limit of punishment of the home even though he called for some training for some caregivers as the exceed their limit of punishment. “But in some cases the caregiver tries to discipline the child but they do it extremely. They don’t try to handle it on a mild level. They go (to the) extreme and that is been termed as abuse when you go beyond your limit. So, in such cases, (when) somebody comes around or a visitor (comes) in or a volunteer (comes) in (and) doesn’t know our culture and the extent (to which) we discipline our children. They don’t know the culture and the limit and how we go about it, so, they will look at it as an abuse”, he said.
Echoing Hills Village
Echoing Hills Village, established in 1994 at Madina by Reverend Cordell Brown of the US is an orphanage built to aid the survival of the homeless, victims of child abuse, orphans and neglected children including children with disabilities and special children the Ghanaian society.