I chose the Osu Children’s Home which is a community for orphaned, neglected, abused or missing children between the ages of zero and eighteen.
At the beginning, it was some sort of challenge to me. I believed that engaging in community service at the orphanage would carry out rewards beyond the obvious and tangible. Moreover it would help support a minute part of the community.
My first day at the home was not as I had anticipated. I came across cases of abnormalities and illness among the children and I must say there has been some form of discrimination from the staff.
I met a cute little two-year old boy ‘Addo’. He was not sent to school with the other children because the house mistress (care taker) claimed he was ill. Later I got to know from other volunteers that he was HIV positive. I was shaken at that moment, I had been there for like 2 days, and “Addo” was always by me, carrying him, helping him change, calming him down when he cried. Besides all the stuff I knew about HIV/AIDS, I couldn’t help but panic. Then I tried clearing up my mind about it, so as not to disappoint little Addo – it’s not his fault that he has AIDS. Later they claimed that he did not understand what was taught in school and the teachers complained that he was a mischievous. (I refuse to buy that) – “Addo” was recently transferred to another center that caters for HIV positive kids.
The life of orphans at the home is a sad and disturbing one. It is poorly equipped, overcrowded, under-staffed, and I believe unattended by officials.
I hope to go back some time to check on them. Some unfortunately passed away, and others transferred to other centers. I remember little Addo, stubborn Akua, innocent Annabel, naughty John and the others.
This experience made me appreciate that I have my parents around. I understood how important family bonds are.
Besides, I really hope I made the kids happy when I played with them and stood up for them when the older boys bullied them. Although majority speak the local language and communication was difficult between us, I understood every expression.