Child neglect worse than acts of terrorism - Rev. Amanor
Accra, July 12, GNA - The Reverend Mrs Jemima Amanor, Country Director of Compassion International Ghana (CIG), has observed that child neglect is the biggest crisis facing the world. "It is even worse than terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and climate change", she stated.
The Rev. Mrs Amanor made the observation at the organisation's maiden press conference in Accra on Monday.
She explained that it was those neglected children who grew to become armed robbers, adding "children are often powerless in a hostile world, home and community. It is these very children who are neglected who become armed robbers or terrorists," she added.
The conference, aimed at briefing the media about operations of CIG, was also to mark five years of its activities in Ghana and remind the public of the need to be child advocates for posterity. CIG is a non-profit organisation that operates as a Christian child development ministry. It was founded by an American journalist, The Rev. Everett Swanson in 1952.
Moved by the plight of the Korean War orphans in South East Asia as he preached, Rev. Swanson initiated a programme of providing the war orphans with food, shelter, education and health care as well as Christian training.
Currently the organisation has more than one million children in 26 countries registered. CIG started its operations in Ghana in 2005 and has over 25,000 children enrolled in both Greater Accra and Central Regions.
The Rev. Amanor expressed worry over the rate at which children were maltreated, abused and marginalised, saying the maltreatment had a socio-economic and political consequence.
"Children in our country are an endangered species. They do not matter and continue to be maltreated by the very adults God has commanded to nurture and advocate for them. Children are the sacrificial lambs when families breakdown. Because they have no political voice and no vote, they are usually marginalised," she said.
The Rev. Amanor said statistical and research findings available at the World Bank and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) painted disturbing pictures of worsening conditions of children, adding that between 500 million and 1.5 billion children were violently treated with more than 80 per cent of the number suffering from physical punishment in their homes.
"More than 150 million children between the ages of five and 14 years work for a living in developing countries, with half of the number working full time. About 1.8 million children are also exploited in prostitution and pornography and 1.2 million others become victims of trafficking annually," she said.
The Rev. Amanor said it was the aim of CIG to serve as an advocate for children to release them from their spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and to enable them to become responsible and fulfilled Christian adults.
"Child advocacy for us is the ministry of raising awareness of the needs, neglect, nurture and the potentials of children in poverty, whiles challenging those within our influence to greater involvement and effectiveness on behalf of children," she said.
Mr Amos Safo, Programme Communications Manager of CIG, said the organisation was committed towards partnering with church organisations and communities in the country to undertake a holistic ministry to children.
He said CIG had targeted to enrol 51,000 children in more than 200 Child Development Centres in the country by 2013 and to develop and nurture the child in physical, spiritual, emotional, mental and moral development.
Mr. Safo said it was the aim of the organisation to develop strategic alliances with organisations and institutions like seminaries, Christian Council of Ghana, Ghana Pentecostal Council, UNICEF, Scripture Union and Colleges of Education, among others, to increase support for children, train and equip staff in the field to serve as powerful advocates for children.
In selecting church partners, CIG selects Evangelical Churches in poor communities who have the capacity to cater for deprived children within their community.
To qualify for partnership with CIG, selected churches must have basic amenities such as safe structures where the children can meet, as well as toilet and water facilities. The churches are then taken through a vision sharing conference where the capacities of partners are built to enable them to carry out child development programmes. CIG does not construct institutions or orphanages to house beneficiaries, but mainly provides financial and technical support to the church partners while the church offers human resource and infrastructure to undertake child development programmes.