Three Flags UnitedCameroonONE has developed a program to confront the orphan crisis. Our team has endeavored to expand on its existent Sponsorship Programs by establishing the first continental In-Home Child Sponsorships designed to support an orphaned child’s surviving relatives. Our goal is to keep families together while making the orphan communes available for only the most imperative situations. Relatives taking on the parental responsibilities of a niece, nephew, or young cousin will do so on a conditional basis. Each household will receive a per annum, circumstantially determined stipend (a pre-determined monetary sum, PTA school fees, as well as material goods essential to Cameroonian daily life) with full understanding that it will be conditional and made available only as certain requirements of the child’s rearing are met. These stipulations include that the child attend a decent school and maintain certain expectations in their evaluations, and that he or she is fully vaccinated and receives whatever healthcare that may be specific to their personal needs.
To date there exists in Cameroon no credible or efficient foster care system to provide for the parentless children orphaned by HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and other ill-fated circumstances. Each year 1,100,000 Cameroonian children find themselves abandoned to the world with no immediate family members. The most fortunate are housed in a sponsor home and schooled in self-operated communes. Others are placed in the care of elderly guardians, who, surviving solely by subsistence farming, can barely afford to provide these children with their basic needs, let alone the costs of a proper education. Some have been reported to be the victims of human and sex traffic and some the sufferers of organ exploitation. Others still are on their own and fending for themselves–the ideal formula for destitution and criminal activity.
There is a need to address the orphan situation through a different approach than other organizations in the region. The solution is not simply to confine these children to the peripheries of society and conceal them in a compound in the corners of the community. Most of those who are raised in this system find that after primary school they are alone and unemployable. Tragically, many of the children still have caring and intimate blood relations who are incapable of financially adding another person to their household. In order to confront this crisis, the support needs to be focused toward the surviving relatives of the child in order to keep families together and free up the orphan communes for only the direst of situations. The methods presently designed to deal with orphans and their families need to be reassessed.
Relatives taking on the parental responsibilities of a young niece or nephew could do so on a conditional basis within an existing household. These homes would receive a per annum or quarterly, circumstantially determined stipend with full understanding that it will be conditional and made available only as certain requirements of the child’s rearing are met. These stipulations include that the child attend a decent school and maintain certain expectations in their evaluations, and that he or she is fully vaccinated and receives whatever healthcare that may be specific to their personal needs, but it will also assist the family as a whole. The dilemma should be looked at as twofold; the growing number of orphans, but also the manner in which those addressing the problem have been dealing with it. We need to be considering the wider advantages that supporting an orphaned child’s surviving relatives will bring.
This project can both reduce short-term poverty by directly providing a partial income to the impoverished and those most in need and ultimately fight long-term poverty by creating a more productive and competent future human capital among parentless children who may have received little or no education. It is a pro poverty alleviation project in line with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals to reduce hunger and poverty, achieve universal education and reduce child mortality intended as a model to be applied throughout the continent.