NAIROBI, Kenya, May 7- Kenyans have been urged to show love and support to Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) within their community to help alleviate their suffering.
Speaking during the World Orphans Day celebrations, Director of Administration at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Services Franklin Episila said this would also ensure that such children became productive citizens.
“Orphans are vulnerable children are often stigmatised. They suffer social isolation, distress, shame, fear and rejection. They are even denied basic social services such as school and health care. Nothing can take away the pain that these children endure after the death of their parents,” Amb Episila said.
He noted that the population of orphans was on a steady growth due to the HIV/AIDS pandemic making it difficult for government alone to give the necessary support to them.
“The government alone cannot adequately address all needs of orphans and vulnerable children. I therefore call upon individuals, families and stakeholders to adopt united actions in supporting and caring for the orphans,” he urged.
Government statistics indicate that in 2004, there were more than 2.4 million orphans living in poor households.
Kiambu Deputy Children’s Officer Jennifer Wangari said, “We have many vulnerable children, street children who may not necessarily be orphans but are also a challenge. Although the cash transfer Programme that benefits about 375,000 OVC had helped, we need more stakeholders.”
The government however assured of its commitment to support the OVC.
“The government will continue to endeavour to create an enabling environment that would enable every Kenyan to realise his or her potential no matter your state or status in life,” Amb Episila stated.
The government has put legal frameworks that are meant to safeguard the rights and welfare of the children with the Children’s and Sexual Offences acts being in place.
On the other hand, the orphan children called on the government to make it easy for them to access important documents such as birth certificates.
“Upande wa birth certificates hasaa wanafunzi wa darasa la nane na kidato cha nne huwa ngumu. Jambo kama hilo linafanya mtoto orphan kufa moyo na kuona maisha yake ni bure na kuwa miserable (We are appealing to government to easily help class eight pupils and form four students to easily access their Birth Certificates. It discourages us, making us miserable and lose hope),” Said Florence Wambui, from Hosana Childrens Home.
The World Orphans Day is an annual event that raises awareness and advocates for the needs of Orphans and Vulnerable Children.