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‘How Can We Stay Indifferent?': A Concern for Niger's Orphans

A sobering statistic found in UNICEF's annual “State of the World's Children” report revealed that the country of Niger has 970,000 orphans living within its borders out of a total population of approximately 17 million people. Those children left orphaned as a result of the death of one or both parents may face difficult times ahead, including lower school attendance and being obligated to work at a much younger age to support themselves or other siblings.

This video produced by UNICEF follows the story of a 15-year-old Nigerien girl who found work as a street vendor, during which she was indecently propositioned by older men. She then took a job as a domestic household employee at the age of 12, eventually leaving the house because of the abusive family: 

The heartbreaking stories of these orphans affect many Nigeriens, including one of the new bloggers from Rising Voices grantee project Mapping for Niger, which chose to address this topic. Fatiman writes in the Mapping for Niger blog: ”To be an orphan in Niger is a very important problem, and a situation very close to my heart – as I live surrounded by orphans.”

She continues by summarizing some of the troubles that orphans may face without a parental figure in their lives [fr]:

Mais malheureusement je constate que l’orphelin, quelque soit la société, vit dans des problèmes sérieux de plusieurs ordres. Surtout au niveau de l’éducation, car n’ayant pas profité de l’amour parental. Il s’est trouvé sans modèle, sans guide ou maitre qui soit le garant de son avenir et de son devenir. Par ailleurs, il faut aussi rappeler que la famille constitue le premier moyen pour l’enfant de s’épanouir. La société vient en second lieu. Et en plus ce dernier reste toujours insensible à la situation des orphelins, pire, elle les utilise pour d’autres fins. A ce niveau, les enfants orphelins sont voués à plusieurs phénomènes sociaux tels que : le grand banditisme, la délinquance juvénile, les travaux forcés, l’esclavage moderne. Cet ainsi que les enfants issus des milieux défavorables sont les plus touchés, car n’ayant aucun revenu dans ce monde purement matérialiste et capitaliste.

Unfortunately, orphans in any society live with a variety of serious problems. Especially when it comes to education, and a life without parental love. These orphans find themselves without a model, guide, or master who can guarantee them a future and prospects. Also, one must also keep in mind that that family is the first way for a child to blossom. The society takes second place. And it is this society which continues to be indifferent to their situation, and worse, at times uses them for other ends. Child orphans can end up the victim of social phenomena including organized crime, juvenile delinquency, forced labor, modern slavery. Thus, it is these children coming from the worst situations who will suffer the most, living without income in this purely materialist and capitalist world.

Religious organizations play a major role in providing relief and care to orphans in Niger. Both Muslim and Catholic organizations have helped build facilities where orphans can receive food and shelter. Alher takes a photograph of one of these orphanages built by a Qatari-based organization, which is located near his house:

Photo of orphanage in rural Niger taken by Alher

Photo of an orphanage in rural Niger taken by Alher with his permission

Fatiman concludes by asking a serious and reflective question [fr]:

En définitive, il faut noter que l’orphelin, en tant qu’être délaissé pour son propre compte, est exposé à des sérieux problèmes. Cependant, le soutien de l’État reste à désirer dans ce sens, bien que la situation des orphelins doive toucher au plus profond de notre humanisme. Comment rester insensible face à la situation que vivent les orphelins du monde?

Finally, we have to say that an orphan, when all is taken into account, is exposed to serious problems. The support given by the state leaves a lot to be desired, even though the situation of these orphans touches the most profound depths of our humanity. How can we stay indifferent to the situation of the lives of orphans of the world?
Special thanks to Laura Morris for translating the excerpts in this post.

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