Over the years, orphans and vulnerable children continue to bring up different emotions and especially feelings of sympathy, due to the fact that they’re aren’t always put into consideration by the government.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the number of children in this category in Nigeria are at about 17 million. It is also noted that some of the children are orphaned by the spread of HIV/AIDS, and eventually left to suffer, without care.
In Ekiti state, there are quite a number of orphaned children, who have been forced to become beggars on the streets, and can be found in all the 16 local government areas of the state.
The United States of America’s President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relied (PEPFAR), which is being anchored by Women and Children Development and Health Research Initiative (WCDHRI), has intervened at an appropriate time.
DR. Pius Idowu Ade-Ojo, who is the project coordinator explained the mission of the NGO in Ekiti, last week, at the inauguration of a training programme for the vulnerable children and their care givers. He also noted that the programme is all about orphans and vulnerable children.
“We have the paternal, maternal and the double orphan. The paternal children is one whose father is no more, the maternal is one whose mother is no more and a double orphan is one whose parents are no more. But there would be someone under whose care an orphan is, we call such a person, the care-giver. It is this person or persons that we try to empower with this programme so that he or she can in turn take care of the orphan.”
“The programme does not allow us to just dish out money to the care givers, but to give them skills acquisition trainings in form of vocations such as mechanics, hair-dressing,computer studies, knitting, soap and bead making, vulcaniser fashion designing, cabinet making and bricklaying among others, “ he said. .
According to Dr Ade-Ojo, a total number of 48 care-givers have been identified in Aramoko Ekiti and 750 vulnerable children have been marked out to benefit from the scheme.
“The main focus of our programme is to reach out to those considered seriously vulnerable, you know some could be more vulnerable than others. There are the most vulnerable, more vulnerable and vulnerable. The most vulnerable are the ones we take care of first. “The project is being funded by the United States Embassy. From our experience on this programme, we have discovered that the rate at which Nigerian children are becoming orphans is now alarming. We find out that the ones we have enrolled are actually orpahns through some very probing questions we ask them and the forms they fill,” he said.
He lamented over the lack of accurate statistical data of these children by the Nigerian government. Ade-Ojo expressed concerns about the alarming rate of children orphaned and made vulnerable by diseases such as AIDS and other terminal ailments.