My experience working in an orphanage in Jirapa, Ghana with ‘Simons Mango Tree charity.’
I’m not entirely sure that anyone or anything could have prepared me for the heartache I was about to experience. The orphanage is managed by retired nuns, alongside a few local workers who all work extremely long days. Their jobs are to change and feed the babies and children. They also prepare and cook the children’s food as well as clean and wash their clothing.
There were 17 babies and children living in the orphanage on my arrival. Only one of the workers were present with the Sister, who was occupied on the phone chasing the relevant department regarding health and safety issues with the building.
All but four of the children are aged under three years. The four children are fortunate enough to attend a local kindergarten Monday to Friday. The remaining children are all under three years old, (the youngest were 3 month old twins).
Sadly, these children get little interaction and stimulation. They are withdrawn and both physically and emotionally neglected. The workers do their very best but the physical demands of caring for 17 children and babies makes it difficult to attend to all of their needs. Looking after such young children requires constant attention but the orphanage is quite simply understaffed.
When I arrived at the orphanage on most visits, I’d find the children in their own urine and faeces. The majority of them had blank expressions on their face and others I’d find rocking in attempt to self-sooth. The young babies can’t always be attended to when they cry and were left in their cots the majority of the day.
I spent my time there washing, changing and stimulating the babies and children through communication, song and play. I bathed them, ensured they wore clean nappies and wiped their runny little noses. I tried to nurture them.
I remember showing the children how to build a tower with blocks. They couldn’t even grasp the concept at first as play was something so unfamiliar to them. After a short while they picked it up and began building their towers. It was a delight seeing their little brains and hand-eye coordination getting to work.
Extensive documented research confirms that the first three years of a child’s life is the most sensitive period for brain development. The experiences a child has during this time will shape the brain and build the connections that allows them to develop lifelong skills such as problem solving, communication, self-control and relationship building. These are our basic survival skills.
These children need at least two workers who will spend each day dedicated to caring for them, interacting with them and stimulating their minds. This is no substitution for a loving family or community even, however the nurturing will encourage healthy development which will always be better than nothing.
I have studied and worked in the Early Years for over 15 years now. No words can describe my experience in this orphanage. I honestly wish I could have brought those little babies home with me and giving them the love and care I feel all children deserve.
I would like to raise funding to employ two extra workers in the orphanage who will engage with the children and attend to their needs. It will cost only £40 per month to employ these two workers. Any extra money raised will go towards nappies and milk which are both very expensive to buy In Ghana as they are imported. I’ve remained in direct contact with the Sister who runs the orphanage since returning to the U.K. Both myself and the charity Simons Mango Tree will continue to do our best to support these deprived, innocent children within the orphanage. Raising money for this plausible cause is just the beginning of my journey.
Simon's Mango Tree (formally N-GHASaid) is a charity which was set up in 2011 by staff in the anaesthetic department of Northwick Park Hospital in London, England. The charity focuses on providing aid to the North West region of Ghana, in particular to the towns of Jirapa and the village of Guo.
The aims of Simon's Mango Tree are to provide:
- Medical equipment and education to hospitals.
- Equipment, financial and educational support to schools.
- Humanitarian aid to villages and orphanages.
- Education in self-sustainability.
The ethos of the charity is to forge links between individuals in Ghana and the UK ensuring our projects are targeted to the needs of the local communities. They are completely guided by the people we are trying to help.
They also strive to establish self sustainability amongst the communities that they give aid to.
The projects that they are currently focused on are:
St. Joseph’s Hospital in Jirapa, Upper West Region, Ghana
Guo Kindergarten, Primary, Junior & Senior Schools
St. Joseph Orphanage in Jirapa
Humanitarian aid primarily for villages in North West Ghana
For more info on Simons Mango Tree please visit http://www.simonsmangotree.org/
Thank you for taking the time to read this and thank you for any donation you so kindly contribute.
Love and Blessings