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We Must Protect the Most Vulnerable in Society

Apr 22, 2008, 6:30 AM

We must all welcome the news that World Initiative for Orphans (WIO) last week opened its regional office for West Africa in The Gambia. The group from The Netherlands, is an independent, non- profit human rights organisation for orphaned and abandoned children worldwide. WIO strives to guard the fundamental needs of these children with a sense of urgency.

In a few African countries World Initiative for Orphans Foundation has already signed operational agreements with the leading ministries to become partners in adding new ideas and pragmatic solutions for children without parental care. Kenya, The Gambia and The Democratic Republic of Congo are the first countries determined to reform their policy in full cooperation with WIO. It is indeed heartening to see The Gambia among this list of countries. It hopefully demonstrates that the government is serious about protecting these very vulnerable children.

According to Mr. Morris I.O Anyim, the WIO Country Manager, The Gambia office will co-ordinate WIO affairs and activities in the West African sub region. " Progress in the development of appropriate alternative care for orphaned and abandoned children and the reduction of institutionalisation is too limited. More must be done. Most countries do not have a comprehensive and effective national policy plan or action plan for orphaned and abandoned children. Such a plan should include the necessary measures to provide all children without parental care with alternative care in a family type setting, based on international best practices," he said.

These are indeed wise words. With the help of WIO The Gambia can be a leader in the protection of orphaned children and be a shining example of good practice not only in West Africa but all over the world.

Worldwide there are 150 million orphaned and abandoned children (growing to 250 million in 2012). These vulnerable children need special protection. WIO plan to unite and co-ordinate countries, universities and involve leaders in a strong coalition of alternative care experts. The WIO-triangle of stakeholders will focus on the best available child placement option for children without parental care. It will also serve as a global knowledge network on behalf of the development of child welfare policies and legislation for these children and enforce their rights.

We must support WIO fully in this work. These children are among the most vulnerable in our society and as such deserve our complete care and protection. A society is judged on how it takes care of the most vulnerable of it citizens if the good work of WIO is supported and continues we in The Gambia will be able to hold our heads very high indeed.

"In charity there is no excess."

Francis Bacon