Most people know that the country of Ghana, like many of its African neighbors, has a tragic history of orphaned children. What most people do not know is that many of the so-called “orphans” have either one or both of their parents still living, but have been placed in orphanages because their parents were unable to provide for them. Orphan Aid Africa (OAfrica) founder Lisa Lovatt-Smith explains that when parents are faced with the terrible choice of seeing their children sick, hungry or out of school due to poverty, and putting them into an orphanage, they often choose the orphanage.
Sadly, more than 90% of orphanages in Ghana are illegal or unmonitored. In those situations, when funds are low and the “drop off” rate is high, child trafficking and exploitation become huge problems. So, since 2006, OAfrica has worked with the government of Ghana to identify and close illegal orphanages and provide sustainable alternatives to parents in order to place children back in their family settings.
This is the story of Ma Georgina, a mother of six children who, after their father left, felt compelled to place her children in orphan care where she believed they would be fed and educated. She was later horrified to discover that three of her children had disappeared from the orphanage. She suspects they were sold. Five of her six children were eventually reunited with their mother, thanks to OAfrica’s intervention and financial assistance. Maame Esi, one of the daughters, has graduated from high school on an OAfrica scholarship and is now attending beauty school. Georgina runs a small business and is a foster mother to an AIDS orphan herself.