“ In the past, people used to care for the orphans and love them, but these days there are so many, and many people have died who could have asisted them, and therefore orphanhood is a common phenomenon, not strange. The few who are alive cannot support them”
A Kenyan Widow
That quotation from a widow in Kibera Slum, Nairobi is an eloquent summary of the plight of Kenyan orphans and of those who would care for them but cannot. Her command of language, common to all Kenyans, belies the crippling poverty and struggle to survive which underscores her daily life. Kenyans love their children just as much as we do. They grieve for their loved ones just as we do, but they have to do it more often.
Here are some of the figures behind this woman’s experience:
Life expectancy: Ireland : Female: 83 Male: 79. Kenya: Female: 61 Male: 58
Infant Mortality: Ireland: 3.78 per 1000. Kenya: 42.18 per 1000
In Kenya 1 in 9 children will die before the age of 5
600,000 children died of Malaria in Africa in 2010. A mosquito net costs € 2.
- Most Orphanages in Kenya are unregulated.
- Many children spend their entire childhood in an institution. The maximum recommended stay before placement in foster care is three months.
- On reaching 18 years of age many children are discharged from institutions with no preparation or exit strategy.
- Former residents of orphanages are 500 times more likely to commit suicide than children raised in a family setting.
- Many orphanages are run as a family business with relatives of the operators amonst the residents.
- Orphanages recruit children to boost numbers. Many parents place children in institutions on the promise of food and access to education.
- Children who live in institutions develop attachment disorders.
- Care in orphanages is often sporadic with unqualified, underpaid staff and a dependence on unskilled overseas volunteers.
- Children in institutions are often required to carry out age inappropriate work.
- Most institutions do not have a family reintegration programmes. Returning children to relatives would lessen their potential to receive donations.
- Many hotels and tour companies include an "Orphanage Visit" on their entertainment programme.
- Volunteers, though well-meaning, often perpetuate the orphanage system.
- Children are not a tourist attraction.
- 80% of children in "Orphanages" have at least one living parent.
- Institutionalised children are less likely to attend school.
- Siblings are routinely separated when placed in an institution.