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Tuesday, November 21, 2017.

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Nigerian News » Health

Bauchi orphanage cries for clinic, ambulance

The Bauchi Orphanage located at the Low Cost Housing Estate in the metropolis of the state capital, has 11 children. It is managed by the Ministry of Social Welfare, through the Bauchi State Orphans and Vulnerable Children Agency (BASOVCA), created by former Governor Isa Yuguda. The former governor demolished the old structure and rebuilt it.

An official of the home informed our correspondent that one of the children is presently studying in a boarding secondary school.

It was observed that some of the children, who have already grown up and in their teens, were accommodated in separate rooms for male and female. The facility has six rooms for the children. Those who have grown up sleep in beds and mattresses while the babies sleep in cots.

Although the Bauchi State government, through BASOVCA, caters for the children’s’ feeding, education, health and general needs, associations, individuals and groups offer donations occasionally. Daily Trust on Sunday observed that students from Giwo Academy, one of the private schools in Bauchi, had visited the orphanage home and donated some food items to the children. It was further gathered that the agency is always informed of every donation to the home. 

An official of the home informed our correspondent that food is usually supplied to them every two weeks. A look at the kitchen showed that the home had enough foodstuff.

The head cook, who doubles as the storekeeper of the home, conducted our reporter round the store and the kitchen, where it was observed that a deep freezer was fully stocked with meat, fish and perishable condiments. 

The orphanage also has a big washing machine for the children’s cloths, beddings, curtains and other materials.

The facility also has a school, which consists of a playgroup and nursery section. According to Maryam Zubairu Lushi, who is in charge of the facility, in order to increase the number of pupils in the school, some children from the neighbourhood have also been enrolled. She added that a project for the primary section of the school is ongoing, after which it would be opened to the public. 

Lushi said a 24-hour security is being provided to ensure the safety of the children.

“As you can see, the facility is located in a good neighbourhood, among houses. So we don’t have any security threat. The people here appreciate the presence of the orphanage and pay adequate attention to it. So anything that goes on here is closely monitored,” she said.

She explained that members of staff, who are majorly drawn from various ministries and agencies of the state civil service, are made up of different categories. “We have porters, cooks, welfare officers and other staff members. They are enough to attend to the needs of the children since they are not many, and some of them have grown up to do things for themselves. The only children that need constant monitoring are the babies because they have to be fed almost every now and then when they are awake,” she added.

Presently, pupils who finished from the nursery section of the school are enrolled in public primary schools. This was seen in one of the admission letters of one of the children from the orphanage home, who was enrolled in a public school in the area. 

Our correspondent was further told that a vocational centre, built along the Kano-Bauchi road, would soon be opened for skills acquisition, not only for orphans from the home but other people as well, and the physically challenged in the state.

One major constraint of the home is the absence of a clinic to cater for health needs of the children. And it appears that no effort is being made by the state government to build a clinic in the facility. Also, there is no ambulance in case of emergency, even as any sick child is taken outside the orphanage for medical attention. 

When our correspondent visited the BASOVCA office, the information officer of the agency, Aisha Idris Bamai said, “We always try to ensure that all the basic needs of the children are met. We have a store here at the agency which is always well stocked with food items, beddings, clothing and other materials to meet their needs.

“Its population is not large, so we have enough of everything to cater for them on a daily basis. We also have dedicated members of staff who provide a round-the- clock service to the children and report any special or urgent need to the agency,” she said.

She further said that although the orphanage lacks a clinic, the children are often given special attention at all government-owned primary and tertiary health care facilities in the state.

Similarly, when our correspondent visited the Sani Abacha Rehabilitation Centre, there was no destitute or physically challenged person accommodated there. Our findings showed that the place only serves as a transit for missing or distressed people. They only spend some days before they are taken to their relatives.

It was in this centre that the almajirai who were intercepted on transit some months ago by the police in Jos, the Plateau State capital, were kept for some days before they were dispatched to their various villages by the Bauchi State government. 

When our correspondent approached the officials of the rehabilitation centre for comments, they declined to speak on their operations.
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