The World Orphans Day is an international event marked on 7th, May every year. The day was first commemorated in New York on 7th, May 2002 with an aim of raising awareness and advocating for the needs of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC)
In Kenya the day was first commemorated in 2006. This was out of a growing concern to the crisis of millions of children who have been orphaned or made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS among other factors.
The intentions behind the day is to appeal for global solutions to the plight of orphans and vulnerable children by focusing public and media attention on social and economic exclusion of the OVC; Lobbying governments, Development partners and other stakeholders to take urgent measures to re-integrate the orphans and vulnerable children into the society.
In Kenya, the situation OVC is an issue of National concern. Currently it estimated that there are over 2.4million orphans in the country.47% are orphaned as a result of HIV/AIDS and many more remain vulnerable due to several other factors.
Children affected by HIV/AIDS become vulnerable long before their parents die. Girls in particular, assume responsibilities for their ailing parents besides parenting for their siblings.
With the weakening extended family systems in our society, most children find themselves without proper social support with incapacitation and death of their parents. This would deny the OVC a chance to access their basic needs such as proper health care, education, shelter and nutrition. Orphans suffer stigma, stress and trauma in addition to loss of the parental love, care and protection and more often they are disinherited.
HIV/AIDS scourge compounded with high poverty level and the recent post election violence have aggravated the situation of OVC in Kenya.
On this day therefore, we are called upon as communities, families and individuals to have a responsibility to provide appropriate care and protection to all orphans and vulnerable children.
St. Camillus Dala Kiye Children Welfare Home and Mercy Orphans Support Program, two organizations working with and for orphans in Karungu and Gwassi divisions joined hands to commemorate this very important event at St. Camillus Dala Kiye Children Welfare Home grounds.
The occasion therefore provided an opportunity for various stakeholders to join hands together so as to alleviate the OVC from suffering and despair brought about by the loss of their loved ones.
The following were the resolutions that were arrived at during this year’s celebrations:
- That there was need to strengthen the community to protect and care for OVC.
- That OVC should have access to essential services including but not limited to education, health care, birth registration, psychosocial support and legal protection.
- That OVC have a right to basic needs like clothing, food and shelter.
- That children should desist from activities that expose them to the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS.
- That the government should put in place policy and legislation geared at protecting the most vulnerable children.