Cultural and traditional problems of orphans in Ghana

There are several reasons for the high number of orphaned children in Ghana.

These are on the one hand various diseases, the lack of medical care, or natural disasters. On the other hand, many parents can not afford their children's nutrition and education and there are also cultural factors that make children orphans: According to the organization Volunteer in Ghana, there are four distinctions of orphans. The first one refers to the original definition of orphans where the children who have lost both parents by death. The second is half-orphans or vulnerable children, children who have lost one parent through death and the remaining parent is not able to care for the child. There are also the group of children who have been exiled from their unknown parents. The final classification defines a child who still has both parents, but who are not able to supply the child. These are called social orphans.



Ibrahim Baba explains the problem of the many children in orphanages who still have remaining parents in the following way: "The reason for this is simple, there are many poor families in Ghana and many parents can not afford their children."


Traditional influences


The caretaker of the orphanage in Guabuliga (Al Hazzan) describes the following situation: "Your father can die even your mother too, and if your mother is not alone, she can go to place afar to marry there ... The new partner wants looking after her children at her new husband's house. And even tough the mother, ist the mother of the children she has nothing to buy food form or anything for the child. The second husband can not accept her children. The man has married her and when she delivers a new childthen he will accept it but not the children of her. "



But this tradition has not always been practiced. Alhazzan added that it previously was not a problem to take the children from a former marriage into the new marriage. At the present time it is unfortunately very common and he also mentioned that this cultural issue is connected with financial problems.



He also reports of the case, where the new spouse of a woman, asked the family of the father to take custody of the child. Unfortunately, there were not sufficient funds available for the education of the child. According to Alhazzan most Ghanese agree that the children of the first marriage don´t belong to the father´s relatives.

Alhazzan also said that in polygamous families (where a man may marry several wives), an arrangement which is common in various Islamic countries, it is often the first wife of the new partner who would not allow the new wife to take her children into her husband´s house. If a woman dies however, the man can take his children (children he had with the deceased woman) into the new marriage, the new wife will eventually accept this.

Superstition as a reason


Baba Seidu, local director of BRAVEAURORA Ghana tells us about another problem, which is linked to the orphans very closely. He says that in almost every Ghanaian tradition orphans are outsider, as orphanhood is traditionally connected to witchcraft and evil spirits, and is shunned because of it.



Particularly in those cases where both parents die before the child has become adult, ignorant people make the child responsible for the death and punish it with exile. Or it is and the family members abusing the child and giving it up. Without help, most of these children have to marry in a very young age to be financially secure and to obtain a caregiver.



According to Baba, in the Ghanaian society, there are only very limited opportunities for orphaned children. Approaches for Foster Care are only developing at this very moment and adoption of children is unfortunately still very unusual in Ghana. In some cases, the half- orphaned child (mostly if the surviving parent is the father) lives in an extended family. In that case, the child must usually cooperate by working as a domestic help or helping on the family farm.