Who is an orphan?
An orphan is a child under the age of 18 years who has been deprived of parental care, guidance and protection of one or both biological parents, subsequently living and going through life all alone, with caregivers in an orphanage home or adopted by foster parents whereas in Islam an orphan is a fatherless child as a result of the fathers death with the mother still living but such a child ceases to be an orphan as an adult, but in Christianity an orphan is a child who has lost one or both parents due to desertion or death. Orphaned children have no source of income or guardian to cater for their needs and most often are with problems of illness, trauma, disabilities, substance abuse for solace or are involved in abusive habits; special needs kids having normal families still face the challenges of the orphaned kids being considered a liability, a lifetime burden and hence abandoned or isolated from their biological parents. An orphan is called Maraya in Hausa, known as Oran in Yoruba and Mgbei in Igbo tribes of Nigeria; millions of orphaned and vulnerable children are found all over Nigeria, and the highest percentage of this exponentially growing numbers of vulnerable kids are found in the northern regions due to insurgency, banditry, broken homes, migration, neglect, unemployment, child abuse, militia attacks, natural and man-made disasters, gruesome killings and kidnappings, ethnic clashes and religious crisis are just but a few of the various contributors to the high rate of homeless, motherless and fatherless children all across regions in Nigeria. Although death of the parents are mostly attributed to be responsible for the growing population of orphans around the world; but the 13 years of insurgency crisis in the northeast Nigeria has changed that assertion due to the gruesome killings of the civilians, members of the Civilian Joint Task Force and Security Forces who were in the front line fighting to protect the lives, properties and sovereignty of Nigerians and the nation Nigeria, during which many head of households left behind widows and orphans who are in need of urgent attention.
Poverty as a result of inflation and high cost of living has been pointed out to be amongst the major reasons more abandoned babies are on the increase, and out there in the streets with their parents still alive. The lack of financial independence daily pushes more parents to bundle up their babies, attached with a note and then dumped them in the street corners, gates of worship centers, or orphanage homes when no one is watching, for them to be taken and cared for by individuals who can; such inhumane acts are often carried out at night.
The death of the orphaned or vulnerable kids’ parents may be caused by HIV/AIDS, thereby becoming HIV positive themselves, consequently made to live without adequate adult support, whereas others are forced to live outside of family care, marginalized, stigmatized or discriminated against by family members or the people within their communities, these vulnerable children face enormous challenges to their health and development with childhood malnutrition as one of the major causes of childhood morbidity and mortality at infancy. Lack of adequate parental care especially for vulnerable and orphaned kids with disabilities, leads to limited access to nutritious food, and quality education; whereas health issues such as cognitive sensory disorder, which affects their psychological and emotional development are also parts of the daily challenges of vulnerable kids with special needs.
The lives of orphaned and vulnerable kids in northeast Nigeria are decorated with tales of terror; whether as victims of insurgency or natural occurrence, each story of an orphaned child has its own drama, for their protection every case has different dynamics which is unique to each and every single orphan found at the various Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps and all across regions in Nigeria. The orphaned children crisis in the northeast is a deadly monster that needed to be tamed fast or else it would consume not only the northeast but the nation as a whole. Orphaned children in the northeast have seen the ravages of war, heard the harrowing sound of bomb blast that left on its trail destruction and death, they witnessed the blood of their family members splashed as a paint all over the walls of their family homes, watched it cascading as it flows seamlessly across neighborhood streets; for them life is nothing and living is meaningless. These orphaned children have suffered traumatizing experiences consequently, living in a region such as the northeast with a rampant history of poverty, illiteracy, high unemployment, corruption as a career, indiscriminate hard drug abuse, and several other unimaginable social vices caused by underdevelopment.
Most alarming scenario is the new trend of child-headed households with the responsibilities of taking care of their younger siblings, increasing number of child bride as young mothers with responsibility for kids that they can not care for; hence teenage boys and girls adopt in order to adapt harmful coping mechanisms such as dangerous work, and sexual exploitation in order to survive their harsh reality.
Orphaned children are a familiar sight on the streets, either seen walking in groups in search of food and means of survival, picking rotten fruits to eat from the garbage dumps at the market places, sleeping in market stalls and uncompleted buildings; convincing these young minds to take up arms and fight a holy war is just a child’s play, for them they have nothing to loose because they have lost everything that they ever hold dear to their hearts.
The loss of livelihoods of the working age groups, lands for farming and food crops that have been harvested not forgetting the deadly and devastating effects of Covid-19 upon the community dwellers has brought a huge burden that is too heavy for the region to shoulder. The housing crisis, economic recession and inflation may further increase homelessness among kids; who may either stay away from their family homes for the love of street life are known as the “runaway” whereas the “throwaway” are kids who are sent out of their family homes due to irreconcilable family conflicts. If the millions of orphans and abandoned kids are not quickly taken care of, and controlled the land will forever remain a fertile breeding ground for not only extremism in religion but the most unthinkable and unethical man’s inhumanity to man.
Orphaned Children Living And Lifestyles
The hope of any human being that has reach a marriageable age is to be married, orphans are not an exception, theirs is even much more thrilling because for them it is much more than just wanting to be with a significant half but building a complete home to cherish for life so when the time is ripe and right to be with a spouse they go all out to search and seek for the right partner that would blend perfectly into their own reality, therefore after the search is the financial backup that is necessary to make it possible hence the need for help to make the day a memorable event; the owners of orphanages are responsible for such activities but with the assistance of the government of the day whose financial contributions becomes vital to make such association possible. At times contributions are solicited from the general public for households items, food and money to help the orphans begin a new life comfortably but despite all the efforts put in to give them a new life on their own they still face discriminations, assault and abuse from their spouses and the general public.
There are stories of orphaned children that are married off when they reach maturity, amongst them are lucky one’s who lived a happy married life and are blessed with children but hoping to know their root through their biological family tree someday that longing can never be wished away. They are achievers who succeeded in life’s competitive race, hence risking everything because for them it is crucial to make it or be mar for life. There are cases of blood siblings meeting, falling in love and getting married unknowingly whereas abandoned children born out of wedlock are stigmatized but despite all challenges that they faced, orphaned and vulnerable children are survivors, sailing on the stormy waters of life unpredictability.
Force To Flee
The 13 years of insurgency attacks in the northeast especially and various parts of Nigeria as a whole has forced many family to flee, abandoning their ancestral homes, villages and land of heritage due to gruesome killings of family members and loved ones
by the insurgents and the loss of lives when innocent civilians were caught in the cross fire. Consequently forcing them to leave and live in the Internally Displaced Person (IDPs) camps located in the heart of Maiduguri the state capital, these camps are temporary home of refuge for people fleeing the crisis zones. Subsequently, causing a significant decline in farming activities by the agrarian communities that were hitherto known for producing major food crops to feed the nation and even some parts of the neighboring countries; resulting also to school going children being out of their classes due to the closure of schools for over a decade because schools were major targets. During such deadly attacks, when villagers sight the insurgents coming in on motorbikes they know that a new attack on their communities is about to unfold so they ran for dear life hiding away in the bushes from their wrath and watched as dozens of homes, schools, hospitals, markets and business places were burned down turning into ashes.
There are millions of orphans in Nigeria who are between the ages of 1-9 that have lost both parents to the various insecurities across the nation whereas the story in the northeast Nigeria is even worse with orphans of just few months old who have lost both their mothers and fathers to the conflicts with many of such orphans as living witnesses to the assassination of their parents right before their eyes, consequently, homeless, marred and traumatized for life. Orphaned adolescent girls living in camps face the highest risk of sexual abuse and violence within the communities they were camped in, such violence by the armed groups includes abduction, maiming, rape to even killings are perpetrated. The adolescent boys are abducted, killed or recruited as a tool of violence for mass killings when they are used as suicide bombers, but for the lucky few they end up being engaged in child labor oftentimes being used and exploited.
Life in the host community where displaced families and millions of orphans are made to take refuge is a sorry and sorrowful sight to behold because living to survive depends on what is provided by donor agencies and humanitarian groups who most often than not are also exploiting and living fat off the donations that are meant for beneficiaries, who are the vulnerable people taking refuge at the IDPs camps in the epicenter of insurgency, Maiduguri, Borno state.
There is a higher chances of orphans and abandoned kids falling victims to human trafficking, rape, child abuse and ending up as prostitutes or criminals as they are most likely lacking of the biological families protective affiliation when compared to kids under the charge and control of blood relatives because there is that invisible string of blood bond, a powerful connection holding and tying firmly between normal kids and their biological families that keeps pulling them back onto the right track when they derailed away from the right path through the journey of life. Note here, that the string of blood bond in most cases is NOT for the love of the kith and kin but because of what the world would say about the family member rubbing the good name of the family in the mud, hence controlling and cautioning such a family member NOT to ruin the “good” name of the family and that CONNECTION is completely lacking in the lives of orphans; Nature has design it in a perfect way that parents unconsciously bear a protective feeling towards their biological children.
Ashe A Child Of Conflicts
Children of conflicts are kids who by sheer strong-will struggled to survive amidst regional insecurities; Ashe suffered untold hardship as a girl-child who spent her childhood up to adulthood experiencing the different conflicts of life living. Ashe’s tale of terror can only be viewed in horror movies but snippet of it can be found in the life story of the millions of people living in northern Nigeria. A smart and beautiful little Ashe who was born into a happy and agrarian family living in the historical town of Bama Local Government of Borno State, Nigeria, a town just few kilometers away from the City Of Maiduguri; life for Ashe is full of laughter and freedom with no worries whatsoever before the town was invaded and subsequently captured by the terrorist group. She lives and takes each day as it comes, going to the stream to fetch water early mornings with are siblings and helping out with the households chores whenever it is the turn of her mama to cook for the family because in a polygamous home with 1-4 wives the head of households share and delegate the responsibility for chores to each and every wife. A large family indeed for Ashe with her papa possessing a large farmland and animals, her family consists of about 25 members, hence farm duties are under the control of the boys and the girls are in charge of the home front activities, apart from all other household responsibilities that Ashe takes care of, she was lucky to be enrolled into school for modern education therefore she goes to school in the mornings and later in the evenings she is seen adorned in her Islamic School uniform to attend the Islamic classes.
On the day never to be forgotten for Ashe, it all started just like any other beautiful and normal day; after completing her daily household responsibilities, she dresses up in her uniform to go to school so Ashe went into her mama’s room to bid her goodbye and they exchange pleasantries, she smiles and her mama smiles back but unknown to them both it would be their last chit-chat. On her way to school, Ashe keep repeating in her mind the usual advice during their conversation with her mama, that she must study hard to become a nurse and be the pride of their family. It takes just a few minutes walk along the bushy foot paths, naturally created by several giant trees; getting to her school premises all seems normal, just as usual and she moves in quickly to join her classmates, moving to her special space in the classroom to sit on the mat because the entire school lacks furniture. Suddenly Ashe heard a loud deafening blast that shook the very foundation of the school buildings almost shaking off the roofing, then the screams, and the gun shots becomes the eerie music sound on that fateful day for Ashe; lifting up her head she saw uniformed and armed men all over the school premises. Thereafter, begins the tumultuous and tortuous journey of life with painful life changing experiences. They ordered everyone out of the buildings into waiting vehicles and before their very eyes the blew away the school buildings, the once upon a time red brick and green roofing structures suddenly turns into a rubble of ashes within seconds; the insurgent went round the entire school to make certain that there are no living soul is left behind.
Ashe was just 8 years old then never in her young life has she seen or heard of such a terrorizing experience, the last thing on her mind at that very moment was her safety and she started to scream, demanding to be let out to go home. A vicious looking guy popularly called the Mallam shouted at her to keep quiet whilst slapping her severally until she fainted; Ashe woke up alone in a lone building all by herself, she was beside herself engulfed in fear, and in the middle of a dense forest that serves as a fortress for the insurgents. Then the reality of her situation descended upon her being, slicing open the core of her soul, shaking and motionless with fright she knew she is a long way from home, and her family will be and remain just a distant memory. Ashe heard a key turning open the door knob, she looked up and stared on like forever whilst holding her breath, she was frightened to the marrow wondering what is going to happen to her when the door opens.
A young teenager came in with some little food for her to eat which she refused but he insisted that she must eat if she wants to stay alive. Ashe feels no hunger in her at that moment in time because she was too scare to care about food, all that she wanted at that time was to be with her family. She suddenly became hysterical and uncontrollable, immediately so the Mallam heard her screams he rushed in and menacingly shouted at her saying “Kiyi Shuru Ko A Yanka Ki” in Hausa meaning “either keep silent or get slaughtered.” All in the fear not to have their “Den” discovered by security agents chasing after them. He dragged her by the arm out of the room to stay with other kids kidnapped within and around the neighboring communities. When Ashe sighted kids of her age she stopped crying and moved closer to join them, she join in eating the cooked, bland tasting rice grain that was brought in as their one meal per day, after a mouthful of the tasteless meal she stopped eating, remembering what home meals taste like. She heard some of the older girls discussing how to escape from their captors and she became interested in what they were saying; a girl of about 15 years of age called Hadiza told them that as soon as their captors leave for another war in one of the villages they must take the opposite side of the fortress to escape, when the guard on duty has left his position to answer the call of nature. Night time came faster than they expected, suddenly gun shots sounds echo all over, singing out loud for all to hear the song of another battle and at the same time escorting the evening sunset to bed. They knew that the armed gang are on their way out for another holy mission, the girls quickly pretended as if they were tired and feeling sleepy, moving quietly they lay down closer to each other sandwiched together and cloaked all over with a blanket knitted with fear. Ashe desperately wanted to go back home so she moves closer to the older girls and for the first time since she was captured she glimpse the shining light of hope in the distance and no matter how hopeless the plans to escape might be she is all in for it. Ashe is so tired and hungry but the thought of going home to be with her family was all the energy she needed to join in the adventurous escape which is so risky that it could lead them to losing their lives but for them it is a chance they must take which is better than doing nothing and just wait helplessly to be killed by the terrorist. The armed insurgent are all young boys living within and around the surrounding villages of Bama town who have been indoctrinated to join the terrorist group to fight a holy war against the government and western education; although not familiar with their faces, she understood their native dialect. Ashe heart skips a beat when she heard them planning on how to attack her family home, she became so desperate to escape in order to quickly inform her family what the attack that is about to befall them, innocently forgetting that such a mission can never be successful on foot.
As soon as the trigger happy armed boys who claimed to be fighting a holy war left the compound in large numbers, riding on motorbikes with each carrying two person chanting their slogan as they race into the night, unknown to the insurgent that some of the girls are planning to escape, they never cared to manned their forest fortress with any of the armed insurgent believing that their captives are too scared to take the night trail out of the fortress, so confidently they left without bothering about what would happen when they are out. Hadiza noticed the faint sound of their voices far off in the distance, so she ask the girls who are brave enough for the escape to move as quickly as they can out of their enclave through the opposite route in order to avoid meeting them on the way; Ashe heard all their plans and she followed them at a distance, picking and placing her feet on the path by instinct not because she has a sixth sense but due to the fact that she knows the land of her birth perfectly.
Unknown to Hadiza and the other girls on their way through the narrow Neem trees, that lined both sides of the road that some of the armed gang were permanently on guard there to always be on the look out. All of a sudden they were confronted by the armed guards of the insurgent stationed there, away from the main structure of the den to look out for security agent and intruders that might find their way into their enclaves to capture or gun-them-down. Ashe heard male voices then all was silent and one of the voices said, ”Un’du Nadii, Da’ne Oko” meaning “who goes there, Stop, Don’t move” in Kanuri language of the ancient city of Bama, Borno state Nigeria. Uttered in the most chilling and menacingly dangerous voice, before they knew what was happening they were surrounded and all the while pointing their AK-47 rifles at them; the girls were shocked to their marrow, paralyzed with fear they became motionless and stay speechless. Then one of the armed boys ordered them back to the enclave, the girls silently and almost lifeless as if sleep-walking, filed back to base, following the same path back and this time they were all locked in except for Ashe who was nowhere to be found.
Ashe never went back into the enclave with the other girls, she hid her tiny body in-between the bushes far away from the usual foot path and as soon as they all walked pass her, she carefully steady her footing and begins to walk away in the opposite direction. She saw a light just ahead of the way she is headed then again she stopped all movement thinking it was the armed gang coming after her; after awhile she saw a Fulani herdsman walking towards her with his son and she boldly steps out of her hiding place and begins to sob silently. The old man asked her in Hausa “ina zaki je da dare nan” meaning “where are you going at night”, all she could utter through her tears is just a word “Gida” meaning home. Instinctively the elderly Fulani man knew exactly what happened to the little girl because living in the bushes has made them experienced the trials and travails of community dwellers living in and around the northeast, he gently held her hands to reassure her that she is in safe hands. The forest for the Fulani herdsman is home so in no time at all he finds his way out of the bushes not wishing to have another encounter with the armed groups; he took her to another much more peaceful part of the community where he left his wife, daughters and animals. He instructed his wife to feed Ashe and to cover her up with warm clothing which she obliged. The following morning news filtered out all around and they heard that the whole of Bama Town is under the control of the insurgent and fortunately they were given few hours to leave the town or else be captured and remain in captivity for as long as the war lasted.
Ashe became a part of the herdsman family, and together they made the life changing trip out; with everyone running out of Bama town to a safe haven which is Maiduguri, the journey that normally would have taken 45 minutes took them 8 hours on that unforgettable day and just before noon they walked into the Dalori Camp adjacent to the University Of Maiduguri. The first task that he must take care of was to take Ashe and hand her over to the IDPs camp management to stay and await her families, if they would be lucky to leave the town alive.
The life of Ashe in the various Internally Displaced Peoples (IDP) Homes all over Maiduguri begins at that very moment, hopefully and wishing to be reconnected with her family but that was just a wish which will never see the light of day. Ashe saw a lot of kids her age, girls and boys without parents sitting together in clusters discussing the circumstances that led them to the camps; surprisingly enough kids are smart and can pick up issues and events really fast, intelligently committing every occurrence to memories.
It has gone down in history, a tragic history indeed that the ancient city of Bama was the hardest hit with devastation, destruction and death; endless flow of human blood mixed with the tears of loved ones, family members who were maimed by deadly attacks suddenly turned into destitute, whereas those who survived were left with no families, no home, no property and at the very brink of losing their mind due to the harrowing experiences and escapades that has changed a beautiful day into a bleak night of painful memories never to be forgotten.
Ashe was told that no one has seen or knew where her family has disappeared to because during the heat of the crossfire between security agent and armed insurgent many community dwellers took the footpath to walk through porous border demarcating the town and neighboring countries into Chad, Niger and even Cameroon, walking endless hours to cross the border into safe regions where they were quickly accepted and camped as refugees.
Ashe was adopted by a family in the camp, and her life quickly change from a lone one to an acceptable bond with others but not without the stigma and discrimination of being an orphan, hate speech and unfriendly gestures from the other kids who felt threatened by the acceptance of Ashe into their family. The days turn into weeks and weeks into months and subsequently years and for Ashe nothing was heard or seen of any member of her family, she plays and work with the other kids in the camps at times going out of the camps to hawk snack in order to compliment her new family’s income; she grew very fast and suitors in and around the camp showed interest in marrying Ashe who has reached the age of 17 years and many have complain about her not getting married on time. But she wanted to marry into a normal family who would accept her as an orphan because Ashe has long given up hope on ever seeing or meeting her family again after 9 years of living in various IDP camps in Maiduguri with fruitless search for her family members, hence she now refer to herself as an orphan due to the fact that all her years living in the Camps she was never wholly adopted and accepted as a part of the normal bonding family. Her marriage introduction was not without the many challenges even other normal families are made to face, consequently the families of the groom refuse to accept her as a bride-to-be for their son which led to taking the case before elders and religious leaders to intervene in order to help give Ashe who is now a teenager a decent home for the fear that she might fall prey to sexual abuse, rape or assault. Fortunately the family of the groom were made to accept Ashe and then the wedding preparations move into the next level.
Ashe wedding fatiha was exceptional because of her easy going nature, always ready to engage in the camp chores and above all she is a volunteer in the camp health center where she works closely with the health care workers and caregivers in taking care of the patients and administering polio vaccines to children. Ashe character has endeared her to all the IDPs in the camp, the reasons to why she received a lot of assorted wedding gifts from all the camps she has lived in before meeting her Groom-to-be, the elderly women took over the role of mama and aunties while the men are in charge of activities involving the nuptials at the mosque. Ashe on her wedding day wished that her mama was around with her on her memorable day, the tears flows unchecked down her cheeks and the women with her teased and comforted her on the new life waiting for her. She received a good dowry which was handed over to her by the camp leader who gave his consent on behalf of her father during the exchange of wedding vows, he advised her to invest her dowry into small business any married woman can successfully do in her matrimonial home. Accepting the dowry with kind words and prayers to all the people who made it possible for her to be married; dancing, singing and feasting continued into the night which was stopped by the arrival of the grooms friends who arrived to pick the bride to her new home.
Married life for Ashe was a bed of thorns, she was never liked by her in laws which led to assault and abuse upon her person, all because she was an orphan. They treated her like a slave knowing that she has no one to defend, protect and prevent any form of maltreatment against her; Ashe has no one to talk to and no one to run to therefore she has to endure. The ill treatment of Ashe by her In law soon find a breeding place in the heart of her husband who took it upon himself to beat and call her a bastard, an orphan and a lost human being. With time it all rubbed into the very being of Ashe that she is all alone in the whole world but on one faithful day she heard on the radio a program by an NGO a discussion about gender violence, the presenter encourage any woman whose rights is being violated by any member of the immediate family or community dweller to call a quick response phone line. Ashe took the number and immediately put a call through, she gave details of her address to the kind lady over the phone who comforted her and assured her that she is in the right hands. Ashe was cooking lunch when the NGOs arrived her home luckily are husband was about to go out for the days business when suddenly the visitors knocked at the door. Ashe husband Ahmadu was so surprised to see them in his home, after their introduction and exchange of greetings, he then asked if they have missed their way but they insisted that they were in the right place and would like to speak with him about his wife; the face of Ahmadu changed he became so furious that he descended upon Ashe and almost took her life away if not for the quick intervention of the male members of the NGO; He was arrested there and then but before he was taken away he divorce Ashe on the spot calling her an ingrate who he sheltered and fed. Ashe was so lucky to be alive, immediately she move her things out of her husband house because he might decide to kill her if he return home to still find her in his house; she decided to live in another camp away from the camp that she was taken as a bride because she is scared of her ex-husband coming back for her life. Ashe quickly pick up the reality of her new status in tow and begins to live again just as it was before getting married, she met with other girls of her age who are either divorced or living a free life as they wished. Her new friends made her life fun filled and everyday is a little better than the last with a feeling that she now belong to a family, they are all happy to belong to the group of orphans so they meet at the end of the day to discuss their day and happenings in their personal lives.
Ashe woke up on a beautiful day, so different from her usual days all because of what happened a night before; recalling now the event that occurred which to her is like a dream, she saw the face of Abba the NGO who came along to rescue her from her abusive and violent ex-husband professing his love for her and promising to marry her, baiting her innocence, and brandishing the badge of human right to gain her trust. Then she heard a sweet India tune wondering where such a sound is coming from and suddenly the reality dawn on her that it is the ringing tone of the phone Abba gave to her last night; she picks up the phone and saw his name on the screen, smiling she answers the call with a shy, “Hello Abba, ina kwana” in Hausa meaning “Abba, Good Morning.” They chat on for hours at every available time, meeting to go out on a date almost every day; events happens so fast for Ashe, all her needs were taken care of, provided and paid for by Abba, unconsciously he turned into a hero for her and hopelessly she is head over heels in love with Abba. Her friends try to make her slow down with her commitment to Abba, warning her also that he is a ladies man but Ashe is long gone because for the first time in her life she has found everything that is worth living for, true love; recklessly she took control of cleaning, cooking and catering for all the needs of Abba believing that it is just a matter of time before they are married.
One fateful day Ashe decides to visit Abba to inform him that she is pregnant with his child, confidently she opens the door and there in the arms of the only man in the world she could sacrifice her life for is right before her eyes in an intimate position with another girl. Ashe was blinded with jealousy, she screams and charges forward with fury to disengaged their warm embrace but he warned her not to step any closer and going even further to ask her what she wanted coming into his house uninvited so he told her defiantly that the laundry is not ready. Ashe was dazed, pitching her skin to wake up from the nightmare unfolding before her eyes, in a flash all the tell tale signs flashed before her eyes and only at that moment did she remember what her friends warned her about. Ashe proudly voice out that she is pregnant for him, he then told her that she is in the wrong building and he quickly turn to his young companion to inform her that Ashe is an orphan and is desperately looking for a place to call her own, not stopping there he ordered Ashe out of his apartment and never to return, he stood up and quickly pushes her out to lock the door. Ashe looked up and saw all the faces around her, with group talk saying we told you so but you won’t listen; she picks her self up and walked back to her room like a ghost. Ashe dead body was found in the morning with a knife stabbed into her stomach and a simple note to inform the world that life for an orphan like her is not worth living, so she has to end it to find peace; sad, so sad!
An orphanage is a home for kids who lost either mother, father or both to the cold hands of death, a home for kids whose parents where victims of accident and their extended family can not be located, a home for abandoned babies born out of wedlock who where found in gutters, refuse dumps and uncompleted buildings, it is also a home for the homeless and underprivileged kids found loitering on the streets. An orphanage is an institutional home under the control or charge of a director; established to provide temporary home, or shelter for the vulnerable group until they are either adopted or fostered to the legally acceptable or qualified families as prescribed by the laws of the land; a large building that is demarcated into sections that comprises of several rooms, depending on the activities to be engaged in by the orphans such as schools for western and religious education, a play ground, kitchen and the relaxation room with a viewing center for entertainment. The orphanage remains a permanent home for the homeless kids until such kids biological parents are located, or they are adopted, married off or are lucky to find a master to live with in order to earn a living as a house help.
An orphanage is forever an orphanage, a home of refuge for the millions of orphaned, abandoned and underprivileged kids, consequently affects the kids psychologically and emotionally never losing hope of meeting their biological families some day.
The IDPs camps in Northern Nigeria is a “child of necessity” just like an orphanage home where all vulnerable members of the displaced communities are housed; the situation in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Camps is pathetic, people are crammed together in communal shelters made out of tents with no privacy and no security whatsoever, whereas those who can not be sheltered in tents are forced to sleep outside the camps in open fields or put up makeshift shelters made out of old rags, sticks, used cartons and trampolines which exposes them to further risk, danger to life and dignity. The IDPs are totally dependent on humanitarian aid from donor agencies and NGOs; there are shortages of basic needs such as water, drugs, food items and firewood to cater for their needs. Orphans and vulnerable kids in the camps suffer the most, due to the fact that no one is ready to look out for them thereby pushing them out of the camps into the street of the host state in search of food. These traumatized kids beg for alms, food and clothing to survive whereas others do menial and dangerous job just to feed, consequently falling victims of ritualistic individuals, criminals and kidnappers and when they are gone missing no one searches for them because there are no proper and sufficient registration of their bio-data to monitor them and to follow up with them for their family reunification should in case they are found. Funds are limited and sustainable supports are not available to provide them with the basic necessities and amenities of life such as food, shelter, clothing, health and education, consequently the pattern of living in an orphanage or children’s home differs completely from living with “real” family.
Donations From Donors
The vulnerable kids are a deprived group within the community with little to no control over their own lives; living under the mercy of good wills and care of kind individuals, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), social or welfare workers. The AIDS pandemic and of recent the CORONAVIRUS has caused a lot of death globally, the insurgency, insecurities, crisis, banditry, kidnapping, farmers and herders clashes all are major contributors to the ever increasing number of orphans and vulnerable kids all across Nigeria. The over a decade insurgency in the northeast Nigeria has crippled all aspects of businesses, farming to feed the families is a no go zone because farmers are at the risk of losing their lives on the farm and trading has been completely ruled out due to dangers on the road to doing any form of business transactions, consequently many individuals live in the fear of the faceless armed groups. The poor households in the northeast are the most vulnerable who faced increased difficulties in affording and accessing food as food prices has skyrocketed going off with the roof due to food scarcity. Humanitarian crisis of malnutrition, deteriorating health, polio outbreak, short of good drinking water, limited access to school, psychosocial impacts of children living in and through conflicts are some of the consequences of insurgency and insecurity all across Nigeria.
The generosity and courage of international donors are priceless during the raging battle between the security agents and the armed militant groups; just like Oliver Twist there is the need for much more life saving interventions hence, provisions of basic necessities especially of food in the orphanages and camps are dependent on the goodwill and freewill donations from community dwellers, organization and religious bodies who provide charitable gifts that can only meet 25% of the reality of life on ground.
Hence it is not surprising that orphans and the underprivileged kids suffer from impaired growth such as stunting development as a result of poor nutrition which often times are responsible for the menace of malnutrition, acute starvation leading to low weight-for-height and even death. Feeding these special sets of souls must be handle by nutritionist and their caregivers with the proper education on the best way to provide and prepare meals on low-budget balanced diets, that is not only nutritious but delicious to tempt their taste buds; provision of clean drinking water is absolutely vital. An adequate meal must be derived from foods that are rich in protein, vegetables, carbohydrates, fats or oils, vitamins and minerals not forgetting to take into consideration the location of the orphanage in order to access the locally available and affordable food items that are in season and are parts of native cuisine to the locality. The northeast for instance will do good in the use of food items such as millet or Gero in Hausa while the southern regions will relish the use of cassava meals or Garri flakes as a source of carbohydrates, homemade noodles or spaghetti made with the wheat flour is kids favorite if properly prepared whilst complimenting such food items with fresh vegetables of spinach, for vital vitamins; seasonal fruits is of utmost importance for an overall healthy development others includes plant base protein of soybeans, beans or cowpeas that are enjoyed all across Nigeria. Sustainable access to cheaper and nourishing foods is necessary therefore orphanage homes needs to rethink charity by reinvesting donated funds into farm lands, fruits and vegetable gardens, poultries and fish farms in order to produce fresh foods with low footprint and with less environmental impacts on human, animal and the climate.
The most priceless and precious gifts for the little angels in orphanages are money gifts in “cash” which is needed to purchase basic essentials, to help settle overhead expenses and to handle unforeseen circumstances that may arise, next in line of importance are usually nutritious food which depends on the staple food items of the region, food items such as rice, beans, soy-beans, garri-flakes, wheat flour, beverages consisting of cocoa, teabags, cereals, powdered milk, vegetable and palm oils, food condiments that may include salt, seasoning cubes, spices, canned fish or meat, fresh fish and fresh egg supply from any local poultry farm in the region along with fresh farm produce of fruits in season; sugar, sweets, candies, biscuits, and a source of good drinking water such as solar powered boreholes or wells for their healthy living. Whereas clothing needs may include school uniforms, bags, writing books, pencils, pens, erasers, crayon and color pencils and vital school supplies, which must include good books, lots of it especially picture story books with cartoon characters; used clothing for their casual wears, blankets and sweaters, sandals and flip flops to protect their tender feet from the harsh weather and dangerous objects.
Health and hygiene is crucial, so it is necessary to provide toiletries, soaps, body creams, grooming accessories, disinfectants, kid-friendly toothpastes and toothbrushes, first aid box with medicines, medication and medical center. Play time is vital for their psychological wellbeing, therefore play ground with play things that is well installed with colorful toys and tools.
Love and Bonding help speed up traumatic experiences in young minds so provision of pets consisting of puppies, cats, rabbits, birds maybe dogs and horses if possible. Time spend with the orphan is a time well spent, it is a moment of emotional connection of love; the feeling of compassion and care from an adult is a treasure for the vulnerable kids, thus give a gift of valuable time with the kids.
Budget-Friendly Diets For Orphans Living In Orphanages
The orphans and vulnerable kids who survive life tragedies face yet again another battle for survival due to lack of food, most especially nutritious foods, therefore offering them even one meal at a time will give them courage to face turmoil and struggle in their daily living; feeding an orphan brings hope in the midst of despair thus, offering them another leap in life for a better and brighter world.
Orphans, special needs, vulnerable children living with HIV and AIDs require nutritious diet which is amongst the vital remedies against infections, diseases and an enhanced immune system; there is the need to provide available and accessible protein sources that are cheap such as goat milk as an alternative to the cow milk which has played a very important role in the health and nutrition of vulnerable kids. Goat milk and it’s products provides the much needed diversity to consumer tastes and it is also high in nutritional value and numerous pro-health properties; it is of better digestibility, aids in the treatment of jaundice and life threatening fever ailment. The northeast and Nigeria as a whole with an exponentially growing human population, high rate of under nutrition and malnutrition, therefore the superior growth rate of goats compared to other milk producing domestic animals will greatly help in keeping pace with the need to feed more vulnerable people in any given community. The provision of goats for vulnerable people such as the IDPs would assist immensely to compliment family income, reduce cost of feeding and provides the vital nutrient needs of vulnerable kids; goats products like milk, yogurt, cheese, butter and homemade soaps are just a few of the rewards to be obtained from goat rearing to generate more income which would aid the displaced people in gaining financial independence quickly and reduce reliance on donations from donors. Feeding large number of people who are living together in camps is not only challenging but expensive, therefore the need for budget friendly menus, delicious meals and nutritious diets becomes crucial; It is vital to power the vulnerable children’s brain and body with affordable, delicious and nutritious food which would help them to grow up happy and healthy, below are just a few recipes that are cost effective and nourishing:-
Fortified Gruel Drink
A nutrients dense beverage drink that can be produced and prepared locally, fortified for kids at risk or suffering from malnutrition; it is delicious, nourishing and super satisfying for both the healthy and kids with special needs.
1. Millet, Maize or Guinea corn
2. Soybeans milk as an alternative to dairy milk
3. Fortified with groundnut paste and crayfish for protein
4. Palm oil for the essential fats and oil the body requires for proper functioning.
5. Sweetener of choice such as sugar, jaggery or manzarkwaila popularly known as cane sugar
1. The first step is taking the right measurements of the grain crop to be used based on regional favorites, it is necessary to make in bulk for prolong use and for an adequate usage that would go round all the kids to be feed.
2. Fiber is necessary to balance the dietary requirements of the body, enhance bulk in the stomach which assist for smooth functioning of the digestive system, therefore it is not necessary to de-husk the grains; wash the grains properly and separate all impurities from it such as tiny stone grits and metals. Spread out and sun dry the washed grains on a clean surface free of moisture; gather into a heap and blow out husk still sticking to the grains then transfer into a large bucket and mill into a free flowing flour. Sift the dry milled grain into a wide bowl to air cool before storing in a dry and air tight bucket.
Note here: The addition of raw groundnuts or peanuts into the grains reduces its shelf life so it is important to process separately to avoid the molds and spoilage.
3. The availability of dairy milk in the beverage drink is nourishing but if it is not affordable for their daily diet then an alternative is the used if soya beans milk which if well processed is as delicious as any dairy milk.
4. Soak overnight the soya beans and peel off its skin, wet mill into a smooth paste then add more water and strain using a cheese bag to separate the pulp from the soy-milk.
5. On low heat place the soy milk and bring to a simmering boil, skim the foamy bubbles on the surface of the slowly boiling milk. As soon as the aroma of the raw soymilk has change to a neutral nutty flavor, remove from heat and allow to cool.
6. Pour into reusable milk bottles or jars and use as milk for the beverage gruel or sweeten with sugar and fruity flavors then serve as a nourishing milk drink.
7. The groundnut paste is next and must also be processed separately into either peanut butter or groundnut powder that can be added to the beverage to fortified and enhance its nutrients contents.
8. On low heat, pour into a dry frying pan the raw groundnut then roast slightly by pushing around and stirring in the pan until it is ready to peel off the crispy skin.
9. Remove from heat the browning groundnut, transfer into a mortar or bowl, to avoid crushing the nuts carefully and gently push it all around in a circular motion to pull away the groundnut peels from its nuts.
10. When its separated from the peels, pour it all out into a round tray then begin to blow away the peels by pouring it all up and collecting it back whilst the peels gets blown away by the winds.
11. Pour the peeled groundnut into a jar or bowl, the crayfish to it and combine together then feed into a blender cup and blend into a paste but if the quantity is much take to the commercial milling machine and pay a token to have it milled into a smooth peanut and crayfish butter or paste.
12. Scoop out the groundnut-crayfish paste into an airtight jar or container then label appropriately as the fortified gruel add-in for the beverage drink.
13. Mixing The Fortified Gruel
Scoop out some of the groundnut-crayfish paste or butter into a small mixing bowl, add some water to it then crushing the paste by pushing and pressing down with the curved side of a spoon scoop into a milky nutty paste is obtain. Pour into a deep saucepan and bring to boil, simmer for some few minutes.
14. Meanwhile, take out some of the sifted grain flour and pour into a bowl, add water to it and stir until it is dissolved into a smooth paste then quickly introduce into the simmering groundnut paste, stirring until thicken and sets; add some palm oil for color and more nutrients.
15. Put off the heat, pour in the soya beans milk and sweeten with sweetener of choice then serve with the cowpea or beans cake known as moimoi, alele, kosai or okpa which are all nutritious food that are tasty, delicious and affordable.
A cheaper alternative to the canned cereals that are completely out of the reach of the masses but a special reserve of the rich; the homemade alternative is much more nourishing, affordable and free of artificial additives. The cereals can be made in smaller quantity to avoid wastage but if properly prepared without water added to it the peanut or groundnut oil can aid in preserving the homemade cereal for longer.
1. Soya beans
2. Groundnut paste
1. Rinse the soya beans in water and sun dry, collect all into a bowl and add the peeled groundnut to it then for more nutrients and taste add in the crayfish.
2. Combine all together and mill into a creamy paste that is so inviting for babies and kids due to its delicious and delightful flavors.
3. Scoop into a clean and airtight jar, packets or sachets according to the individual requirements of each child then seal or cover with airtight lids.
4. Making and mixing the cereal, bring the required water quantity of water to boil, stir in the cereal by turning continuously until thicken and sets.
5. Serve for babies as an alternative to expensive canned cereals; it is as delicious as it is affordable.
6. Serve with soy-milk for more creaminess, remember that it is not necessary to add sugar but if desire adding some sweet fruit juice will enhance the taste more.
One Pot Dish
It is a combination of a major staple food item of either rice, beans or both cooked as a one pot dish with vegetable, protein and oil, seasoned and spiced up to make for a delicious and nutritious meal. The same recipe can be used for cooking only rice grains or just beans; it is cost effective, reduces excess spending and wastage, amazingly too left overs can be recycled into the one pot dish.
1. Rice grains
3. Palm oil
4. Protein source is either crayfish or smoked fish
5. Onions, tomatoes and pepper
6. Seasoning cubes, locust beans and salt to taste
1. The cowpeas or beans goes into the pot first because it takes longer to cook; measure out the required quantity into a big bowl pour water over it enough to cover the beans then rinse but do not squeeze together to peel off the skins, just rinse to get rid of dust and debris then strain off the water and transfer into a large cooking pot.
2. Place the pot of beans on low heat and bring to a simmering boil, check for doneness half way through cooking; do not allow the beans to soften before adding other ingredients and do not that the time duration of cooking the newly harvested and old beans are different.
3. The next ingredients to add is the rice, take out the needed quantity that will blend uniformly with the beans and wash thoroughly to remove excess starch, dirt and debris; when the final rinsing water is clearer then strain the water and scoop only the rice grains into the boiling beans, add crushed seasoning cubes and salt to taste.
4. Wash and de-bone the smoked fish and break into tiny pieces then add into the rice and beans but if using crayfish then pound or grind to obtain the crayfish powder, use as an alternative to the smoked fish which will provide the vital protein in the meal.
5. Wash and slice or chop up the onions, tomatoes and pepper then add into the cooking pot; to enhance the nutrients of the meal add some locust beans or dawadawa in Hausa.
6. Spice it up with native spices of ginger, curry leaves or thyme powder then drizzle the palm oil generously over the now boiling mix to give a beautiful bright red color and boost more the nourishing loads of the meal with the much needed fats and oils that is found in vegetable oils or the palm oils.
7. Cover the pot with lid and reduce the heat, check often for doneness if necessary add in more water to achieve the desired texture of the ingredients used in cooking the one pot dish.
8. Serve for lunch or dinner with fruits slice and clean drinking water close by for the beautiful angels; they would sure ask for more servings.
Chewy Peanuts Bite
Kids love groundnuts whether roasted, boiled or prepared as a peanut butter spread for bread or fried into kulikuli crackers eaten alone or served with garri flakes.
1. Groundnut or peanuts roasted
2. Sugar, manzankwaila or jaggery or sugarcane syrup
3. Ginger powder, granulated sugar for topping
4. Water and salt to taste
1. Pour water into the saucepan, add sweetener of choice, salt and ginger powder.
2. Bring to a simmering boil on low heat stirring often until it is thick and set for a spicy syrup is obtained.
3. Stir in the roasted groundnuts or peanut s until all nuts are coated with the syrup.
4. Put off the heat, and scoop the coated ground nuts onto a tray lined with non-stick baking sheets then spread evenly all over, while still warm sprinkle granulated sugar all over.
5. Place it under the sun to dry until crispy when crack.
6. Transfer into jars and cover with lids, serve as a treats in between or after meals.
The very first soup mostly used in introducing kids to eat swallow staple foods with is the okro soup, it ease swallowing morsel through their narrow throats because it is slimy so its slips in effortlessly; it is rich in essential nutrients that toddlers and growing kids require for healthy body and their psychological wellbeing.
1. Fresh green okro or okra fingers
2. Grilled, smoked fish or crayfish
3. Palm oil and locust beans
4. Seasoning cubes and salt to taste
5. Green spinach or Ugu known as the pumpkin leaves
Note: pepper is avoided because it is not easily tolerated by most kids
1. On low heat place a soup pot, pour in some water and bring to boil then use out of the hot water to rinse clean the smoked or grilled fish and to ease the de-boning of the fish; dress fish properly until there are no tiny bones still stuck to the fish.
2. Transfer the washed fish into the little water still simmering on low heat, add locust beans, ground crayfish, drizzle in some palm oil for color and enhance nutrients, follow in with the crushed seasoning cubes and salt to taste.
3. Meanwhile, rinse the fresh okro and grate or chop into bits then keep for use; wash off the green leaves and shred into tiny pieces keep in a separate bowl.
4. Simmer until the soup stock has thicken and reduced in quantity just enough for the next ingredient which is the grated okro.
5. Check for seasoning and liquid quantity then add edible potash to the grated okro then pour into the soup stock, stir together. Allow to simmer on low heat but add the shredded green leaves the last five minutes before putting off the heat.
6. Cover to cook and serve with any staple food swallow base on regional favorites or preference.
Nutritious Veggies Soup
A leafy soup to go with staple swallow which help balance the nutritional requirements needed for healthy growth of vulnerable little kids, mix and match the ingredients based on cultural taste and cuisines.
1. Green Spinach leaves or fresh lettuce as an alternative, the pumpkin leaves popularly known as ugu is nutrient-dense with vital minerals.
2. Grilled Fish as alternative to beef meat due to high cost
3. Tomatoes, bell pepper, onions
4. Pumpkin fruits
5. Palm oil
6. Seasoning cubes and Salt to taste
7. Native spices, herbs or locust beans
1. The grilled or smoked fish is a vital protein requirement that is a better and cheaper alternative to meat; rinse thoroughly in hot water to remove dust and dirt stuck on the oily fish skin then gently flaked and carefully remove all the fish bone, reserve in a clean bowl after straining the water used for cleaning the fish.
Wash all fresh vegetables but first and foremost rinse the pumpkin fruit, peel it and slice it open to expose the seeds within its core, scrape out all seeds and stringy fibers use it as seedlings and organic manure for home gardens. Cut the fleshy orange fruits into cubes, reserve in a covered bowl for use in the soup. Again peel the onions, slice or chop into pieces depending on preference; slice or chop the tomatoes, bell pepper and scotch bonnet separately or combine together and then blend into a puree.
2. On low heat place a saucepan, pour into it some palm oil and heat up, add the chopped oils then stir and saute, sizzling for some few minutes until onions is soft.
3. Transfer into the sizzling onions, chopped bell pepper, pumpkin fruits, just a little scotch bonnets, tomatoes and more onion slices, stir continuously until a thick sauce is obtained.
4. Season with crushed cubes, add salt to taste then spiced up with favorite spices relished in the locality. Add some water and the reserved grilled or smoked fish, stir together to combine and check for seasonings and spices then adjust accordingly as desired. Cover, reduce heat and allow to simmer until the soup is cooked and all seasonings are blended in properly.
5. Meanwhile, rinse in clean water the green leafy vegetables, pick it off it stalks and shred into tiny bits, gather all together and add into the simmering soup at the last five minutes through to doneness in order to avoid over cooking the leafy greens and to enhance the nutrients of the soup; cover with lid until the soup is ready then put off the heat.
6. Scoop and serve the colorful soup with each color of vegetables representing a vital nutrient requirements for the healthy wellbeing of the body. The staple swallow of semovita, eba or garri swallow, tuwon masara or corn meal, shinkafa or rice meal swallow, amala or yam flour swallow, boiled yam or cooked white rice can all be eaten with the veggies soup that compliment the nutritional needs of daily diets.
Beverage Gruel Or Kunun Koko
Kunun koko or the beverage gruel is a popular breakfast meal, especially in the northern region across Nigeria it can be served along with any available popular street snacks such as the beans or Cowpea cakes known as Kosai and the steamed pudding made with the paste of beans mix with add-in of fish, meat, vegetables or eggs which is generally known as moi-moi in Yoruba or alele in Hausa. It is a very cheap breakfast meal that if it is well prepared can be a nourishing alternative to other expensive breakfast cereals that are processed with artificial additives. kunun gruel is consumed in almost every family home, as the first meal for the daily menu of the day which helps cut down on feeding cost in large family households.
1. Staple grain of choice such as millet, corn or guinea corn.
2. Mix spices of ginger, cloves, and chili pepper to spice up the gruel
3. Honey, Sugar or sweeteners of choice
4. Dairy milk or soybeans milk if available but if not then use tamarind solution or fresh lemon juice to enhance taste.
1. The beverage gruel can be prepared with the grain flour or paste of choice after processing the grains into flour by dry milling or wet milling in paste.
2. Process the grains by first separating the grains from impurities of stones, dirts and particles; then rinse repeated in clean water. Soaked the grains in water for several hours until tender then rinse severally in clean water.
3. The Spicy kunun koko is prepared by adding in the ginger, cloves, and chili pepper. Wet mill or blend into a very smooth paste of pouring consistency.
4. Add and dilute with more water, mix together into a pouring consistency then sieve the mixture with a cheese bag into a large bowl, cover and allow to settle undisturbed.
5. Meanwhile scoop a little from the settled grain starch and dissolve in a smaller bowl with a little water then mix into a thick dough-like paste. Pick little of it and roll into tiny smooth balls, repeat the paste balls until as much as required has been obtained.
6. The round tiny and chewy balls made out of the grain paste is at times added in the recipe for satiate but the same taste can be achieve without adding the balls or dumplings.
But if using in the gruel beverage then take out some wet paste or dry flour, mix with water and repeated roll to form tiny cute balls or dumplings; quickly drop into boiling water to cook and retain its round cute shapes.
7. Check for doneness the boiling paste if cooked then pick the required quantity from the reserved wet grain starch and dissolve in water. Once the dumplings or balls starts to float in the boiling pot, remove from heat.
8. Immediately pour into it the dissolved grain starch, mix in together quickly until thicken and sets into a custard-like gruel.
9. Sweeten with sweeteners of choice and serve with any favorite side dishes of the popular snacks that are commonly and generally sold all around communities which may be kosai, puff-puff, moimoi or Adele or even pastry balls.
Sweet Sesame And Groundnut Balls
Sweets can be homemade instead of buying already packaged sweet snacks which can be so expensive, vulnerable kids love and relish treats therefore it is necessary to make such sweet treats in household kitchen and share out for them to enjoy after meals or use as gift reward when they are well behaved.
1. Roasted and blended or groundnuts butter.
2. Roasted sesame seeds and cashew nuts
3. Grated coconuts
4. Butter, Ghee Or Groundnut Oil
5. Sugar, Honey or brown sugar.
6. Spices of ginger and cloves
7. Salt to taste
1. Peel the groundnuts then place in a dry frying pan on low heat to roast or toast until golden brown and then transfer into a blender and blend into creamy butter or chunky paste.
2. On low heat place a dry pan, add to it butter or ghee to melt, if prefer use groundnut oil, add a pinch of salt, sweetener of choice of granulated sugar, brown sugar or honey and continuously stir until well blended with the melted butter or oil.
3. Add the peanut butter or the roasted blended groundnuts with chunks in it then slowly bring to a simmering boil, add cashew nuts, the sesame seeds, grated coconut and spices, fold in and gently stir-fry on low heat until the mixture stops sticking to pan and pulls easily away.
4. When it rolls into a ball then remove from heat, allow to cool off slightly. Scoop and mold into round balls then spread out to air dry and store in an airtight jar. Serve as snacks or sweet treats.
A sweet crunchy groundnuts or peanuts treats that can be eaten by the handful as a snack any time of the day with unsweetened groundnut milk or smoothies of any fruits of choice. Groundnuts cooked, roasted, or paste in any form is excellently loaded with the plant-based proteins and dietary fiber richness.
1. Raw groundnuts or toasted peanut
2. Honey or Sugar caramel, syrup or sauce
3. Granulated sugar and salt
4. Spices of ginger, and cloves or cinnamon and vanilla.
1. On low heat, place a dry saucepan and pour in groundnut oil until heated or the butter melted.
2. Drizzle into the heated oil some honey or sugar caramel, stir in the spices, salt and flavors of choice; stir and mix into a smooth creamy syrup.
3. Then add in the roasted or toasted groundnuts, stir to combine continuously whilst folding into the mixture until well coated.
4. Gently pour out onto a lined or foiled lined tray, baking or silicone sheets; spread out evenly with a spatula.
5. If using raw groundnuts then place into the oven and toast until golden brown, constantly stir for even toasting, remove and immediately sprinkle granulated sugar all over it, follow it up with a little sprinkle of salt and sesame seeds; mix in well and allow to cool.
6. But if using roasted groundnut, sprinkle granulated sugar all over, roasted sesame seeds and salt, mix in thoroughly then air dry until crispy or place in the refrigerator to harden.
7. Serve as crunchy treats then store remaining in air-tight jar, packs or container, place in the refrigerator or the kitchen shelf.
Peanuts-Milk Energy Bar
Energy dense snacks for kids that are malnourished, it is rich in micro nutrient, sweet and irresistible for kids.
1. Groundnut or peanut paste
2. Groundnut oil or butter
3. Sugar, honey, Brown sugar or cane sugar known as jaggery or manzarkwaila in Hausa
4. Milk powder
1. Place a dry frying pan on low heat, pour in the oil or butter to melt, add sugar and stir continuously until a caramel like syrup is obtained.
2. Scoop in the groundnut powder or paste, sprinkle some milk powder just enough to enhance the snacks nutrients loads.
3. Stir fry on low heat until it forms a ball, add more milk powder if it is too soft but if it is too hard soften it up with more groundnut oil.
4. When the desired texture has been achieved, remove from heat to cool off for some minutes and quickly shape into balls or roll out into a square and cut it further into little bite able shapes for kids.
5. Transfer into airtight containers to store and to keep off impurities.
6. Serve as a snack treat for kids after meal or in between meals any time of the day.
A very light meal that is enjoyed by kids and adults, made colorful with mixed vegetables, add-in of grilled fish, fresh eggs can be included or better still cook plain and serve with boiled eggs.
Alternatively, soak noodles in seasoning stock or left over stew, break some fresh eggs whisk and gently fold to mix with the soaked noodles; then transfer into a saucepan with heated palm oil and stir fry until ready.
1. packet of noodles or the homemade slim spaghetti
2. Fresh eggs or grilled flaked fish
3. Diced carrots
4. Green sweet peas
5. Fresh corn cooked or canned
6. Scotch bonnet or Red bell pepper
7. Yellow onions
8. Palm oil
9. Noodle spices or seasoning cubes and salt to taste
1. On low heat place a saucepan, pour in the palm oil to heat up, add in and saute the onion slices.
2. If using fish then pour in some water, add the fish, diced carrots and sweet peas then season with noodles spices, or seasoning cubes and salt to taste.
3. After just one boil break the noodles into chunks and pour in, stir and fold into the stock to combine but do not over turn the simmer dish.
4. Check for doneness and liquid content to see if the water content has reduced.
5. Dish out into serving places with egg slices, and grilled fish flakes as toppings.
Sweet Potatoes Sweet Biscuits
Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet, hence a healthy vegetable to incorporate into baked goodies and left over potatoes can be used in the recipe needing no added sugar.
1. Sweet potatoes, boiled, roasted or baked
2. Coconut grated or minced with coconut milk
3. Coconut oil or butter
4. Fresh eggs
5. Sesame seeds
6. Salt just a pinch
7. Whole meal wheat flour
8. Baking powder, cloves, ginger or vanilla and cinnamon for flavor
1. Preheat the oven or heat up the stove top traditional baking pot made up of a heavy iron pot, with its based leveled with cooking salt.
2. Wash or rinse off properly the sweet potatoes boil, bake or roast until cooked, allow to cool and then peel off its skin. Place in a mixing bowl and mash with a potatoes masher into the desired texture.
3. Mix in a bowl all the dry ingredients; Sift into a bowl the wheat flour, sprinkle some salt, add sesame seeds, baking powder, flavor up with flavors of choice then stir together to combine.
4. Mix together all the wet ingredients into the mashed potatoes bowl; add in the grated coconuts, coconut milk and coconut oil, stir in the whisked fresh eggs and mix to combine but if using liquid flavors then add in some drops.
5. Scoop and drop on the baking sheets or foil paper, careful place into the oven or stove top baking pot to bake until crispy on the edges and golden brown.
6. Transfer onto a cooling rack and store in a jar or cookie packs, place in the refrigerator to prolong its shelf life.
Veggies Steamed Bread
A beautiful and colorful bread, steam or bake it as a healthy and delicious alternative to normal bread; as superb as pizza but fluffy light just like a bread. A richer recipe will include freshly beaten eggs, melted butter and milk with a spicy oil spread known as roux or flour mix.
1. Wheat or All purpose flour
2. Green onions
3. Green bell pepper
5. Yellow or purple onion bulbs
6. Sugar and salt to taste
7. Cooked Beef cubed
9. Hot vegetable oil
10. Suya spices or mixed spices ginger, garlic, onions, cloves, alligator and chili pepper
12. Topping of roasted sesame seeds
1. Preheat the oven if using or Set up the steamer or use a pot and tight fitting lid on the stove top to steam the veggies bread.
2. Sift flour into a mixing bowl, sprinkle yeast and sugar all over it, stir all the dry ingredients to blend in altogether.
3. Collect all the vegetables of choice together, rinse all in running water thoroughly.
4. Peel off the onions outer coverings and slice into cubes, shred the green onions too into tiny bits and transfer into a separate bowl.
5. Cut open the green and red bell pepper, slice off the fiber and scrape out its seeds, then shred into strips before cutting into cubes.
6. Slice the carrots into long strips, place the strips together and then cut into tiny cubes; then cut into tiny cubes the cooked beef but alternatively use flaked fish or minced meat.
7. Transfer all the colorfully cubed veggies into the dry ingredients of the flour mix, pour in the cubed cooked meat, stir continuously until all the veggies and meat are coated.
8. Gradually sprinkle hot boiling water over the flour mixture, mixing it in whilst stirring and turning to make a dough, remove the spatula and knead lightly to form a smooth dough then cover it up with a cellophane to keep out the air; keep in a warm place to prove and double in size.
9. Meanwhile make the vegetable oil spread known as roux by some chef; sift some all purpose flour then pour some into a small bowl, spice up with mixed or suya spices according to preference, add salt to taste, then heat up some vegetable oil until almost smoky then quickly but gradually pour over the dry ingredients whilst stirring to mix all together into a spicy pouring consistency, reserve for use as spread on the dough.
10. Once the dough has double in size with lots of air holes then turn the dough out onto a floured surface and then knead until smooth.
11. Roll out the dough into a log shape, cut into equal sizes and roll each dough piece to form a circular shape, make about five round flatten dough shapes of equal size with a larger piece than the other five smaller round shapes.
12. Spread the spicy oil mixture all over the larger dough circular roll out; place a small round dough right in the middle of the bigger dough, spread with the spicy vegetable oil all over its surface then place the second and repeat until all the five smaller dough has been place on the middle of the larger dough.
13. Pull the edges of the larger dough over the smaller dough in the middle then press against it to seal up; pick it up and turn it over gently place in a baking pan, spread the spicy oil all over the surface then sprinkle roasted sesame seeds as toppings next is to bake in the oven or place in a heat prove earthenware glass dish for steaming in a steamer or stove top.
14. Cover the dish with a foil pepper to prevent the steam softening the dough whilst cooking then steam until cooked and when a toothpick inserted in its middle comes out clean.
15. Slice into a triangle just like a pizza and serve it like any adequate and healthy meals with beverages or fruit juices of choice.
16. Wrap up the remaining or left over veggies bread in a bread wrap or foil paper and store in the refrigerator; warm up in the oven or microwave to serve again.
Homemade Milk Candy
A milky and chewy homemade candy, easy to make and love by kids; alternatively add some cocoa powder to obtain a milky chocolaty candy that is not different from the store bought chocolates. Mix and match with the kiddies favorites, another way to incorporate milk into their diet when it is available.
1. Powdered milk
2. Sugarcane syrup or granulated sugar
3. Flavor of choice, preferably vanilla or cinnamon
4. Cocoa powder
1. On low heat, place a sauce pan and pour into it some water, add in the granulated sugar if using but if using the sugarcane syrup then place on low heat to heat up.
2. Stir continuously the sugar and water mixture until the granulated sugar is melted, add in the flavor of choice then reduce the heat further and simmer the sugar syrup until its syrup becomes stringy when touched.
3. The milk powder is next, add into the simmering sugar syrup gradually, stirring and turning until all the powdered milk is used up; turn the mixture to form a thick milky sauce.
4. Spray oil or oil a silver tray, pour onto it the milky sauce, spread it all out to the desired thickness, allow to cool and air dry.
5. When the milk chocolate is completely set, cut out the desired shapes with a knife or fancy cutter and transfer into candy jars to store. Serve as sweet treats for kids, after meals with milk beverages or fruits juice.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) And Orphaned Children
The life and living conditions of these orphans are so pathetic and appalling to describe, they sleep on the bare ground with no clothing to cover up their skeletal frames, the smiles on their faces has been permanently erase by the traumatic scar left behind by the harrowing massacre of innocent people they witnessed. The majority of the kids orphaned due to the armed militants attacks have seen their entire families wiped out during the war and are left with no one to care for them unlike the few vulnerable children who lost only their biological parents but still have some of their extended family members to care and look out for them.
Orphaned children must be counted and be accountable in the community in order to achieve an all inclusive society where no one is left out especially in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals aims and objectives for all people.
Goal 1👉No Poverty👇
The vulnerable group especially of young boys and girls living outside parental care must be empowered to fight poverty in order for them to be better equipped to fight societal vices that may influence their thinking and control their mind, consequently leading them into crime and criminalities. Therefore, entrepreneur training and skill acquisition program would greatly help the older vulnerable and orphaned children acquire the needed skills that would speed up their financial independence; the provision and presentation of tools, start up capital, or micro credit for self reliance is absolutely vital.
Goal 2👉Zero Hunger👇
As the saying goes “a hungry person is an angry person.” and also “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” it is necessary to feed the most vulnerable within the communities in order to avoid falling victims to dangerous individuals that would stop at nothing to achieve their evil machinations, hence the vulnerability of the vulnerable children are easy prey. Farming and nutritional supports to end hunger of these special people would keep them busy and feed them properly thereby avoiding the whims and caprices of armed groups.
Goal 3👉Good Health And Well-being👇
The goal must ensure that children without parental care and control are protected from abuse, neglect and toxic stress which have the most negative effect on the vulnerable children health, development and protection; orphaned children are neglected hence a vulnerable group in the society, living a high risk life of poor health such as malnutrition, infection and disease outbreaks. Health care services, home-based care for vulnerable kids with special needs, orphaned children living with HIV and disabilities is crucial to help cushion their health issues.
Teaching the vulnerable kids through practical education, the proper method of washing hands with soaps and running water will greatly assist in bringing down problems of poor nail conditions, skin infections, and diarrhea diseases. Whereas the right method of using toothpaste and toothbrush by teaching them the health need of tooth brushing will help to solve the kids health challenges of dental caries and dental tartar. Personal hygiene for orphaned girls are important and the provision of sanitary protection during menstruation is crucial hence the need for the supply of free sanitary towels for their confidence and dignity. Provision and distribution of anti-malaria drugs and the treated mosquito nets is a life saver in a community that is infested with the malaria-carrying mosquitoes; nutritional and psychosocial supports for all vulnerable children is necessary for their mental health.
Goal 4👉Quality Education👇
The over a decade insurgency has caused devastation on schools resulting in high number of out of school children; the families of slain teachers and kidnapped school children who lost their lives, must be compensated to encourage individuals interested in education and educating others to go back to the classrooms especially in the northeast that is the epicenter of the insurgency. It is important that conflict affected children must gain back their confidence in the schools security system to feel protected within and around school environment to be able to study peacefully.
The destroyed school buildings must be reconstructed, and new school structures must be constructed, provision of stationeries, supplies are important for the educational supports of orphans and vulnerable children; informal training on human rights issues is a must to educate them on their rights whereas technological training in a digital world is necessary in order for them to remain relevant in the new technological world.
Makaranta Marayu in Hausa or school for the orphaned children: Schools for orphaned and vulnerable children must be provided in northern Nigeria; these kids must be taken off the streets and back into schools for Islamic and western education which is necessary to impact the right knowledge into these vulnerable young minds, and to also give them a meaningful future that is only possible if they are educated. Orphaned children schools are established and sponsored by the rich members of the society, with contributions from all well meaning Nigerians and it is also backed up with a free scholarship to college sometimes with financing from private organizations and the elites who knew the value of education in the life of a child, in and around the communities.
Goal 5👉Gender Equality👇
Gender based programs to equip the girls and young women about their rights, protection and prevention of abuse through workshop and seminars would keep them informed when the line is crossed and they are marginalized; radio jingles and television program would properly and easily keep them informed and updated about gender issues and women participation in governance.
Goal 6👉Clean Water And Sanitation👇
Provision of clean drinking water such as boreholes, hygiene and sanitation including proper human waste disposals would keep at bay air and water borne diseases, reduce the high disease risk that might be caused by the lack of sufficient water supplies and adequate sanitation facilities; thereby reducing cost of treatment that can be channeled into provision of more pipe borne water and other basic necessities to help with their overall healthy well-being.
Goal 7👉Affordable And Clean Energy👇
Solar energy is the best option for a region that has suffered so much destruction of its infrastructures and in need of amenities, with the natural sunshine that is abundantly available, subsequently the provision of electricity and power would help to speed up progress when it is setup and helping the region with clean and affordable solar energy.
Goal 8👉Decent Work And Economic Growth👇
The establishment of cottage industries and small businesses for returning communities that were hitherto dislodged from their regional lands would provide employment and financial independence away from over dependence on donors for donations that are not sustainable. Provision of credit facilities would help to provide decent jobs for individuals who have lost properties, lands, wealth and means of livelihoods to the insurgency, a pathway out of the doom and gloom of destruction created by the insurgents; therefore it is necessary to make provision for the needed assistance to begin life afresh. Whereas economic strengthening through empowerment for the vulnerable kids is of utmost importance too.
Goal 9👉Industry, Innovation And Infrastructure👇
It is a strategic instrument that would ensure that orphaned and vulnerable children are no longer invisible to the world; they must have a face for proper assessment through data collection and collation, such information are necessary tools to integrate such children back into their local communities, rejoined them with family members and also for quick unification of orphaned children with their biological family or the legally recognized foster family for a near normal family households.
Their fundamental human rights must be ensured therefore, protective systems for vulnerable children online and offline is necessary to safeguard their safety against sexual abuse and cyber bullying.
Goal 10👉Reduced Inequality👇
The situation orphan and vulnerable children find themselves is not by their own making or faults but rather due to life circumstances that can not be controlled therefore, it is important not to stigmatized or discriminate against refugees or the Internally Displaced Persons because they are fighting a battle they never started; they deserve to be treated equally with others living and having normal day to day living. Child Rights and Protection from all form of abuses is absolutely crucial to protect the most vulnerable in the community; the orphaned children.
Goal 11👉Sustainable Cities And Communities👇
The capital city of Borno state Maiduguri has witnessed influx of dislodged community dwellers from near and far, hence over stretching infrastructures due to the growing numbers of refugees that were forced to live in camps for safety; it is crucial to rebuilt destroyed villages and communities so that Internally Displaced Persons can go back to their ancestral land to pick up the remaining pieces of their lives and maybe just maybe the reunification of family members and vulnerable children will be made possible.
Vulnerable kids that are lucky to escape the conflict zone needs urgent reconnection with their childhood which involves reuniting with families, and friends, of utmost importance is the need to go back to school as quickly as possible to learn, play and laugh on the merry go round because their psychological wellbeing is as important as their physical health; they must be sheltered in a safe and child friendly environment where they can trust adults, feel loved, respected and protected.
Goal 12👉Responsible Consumption And Production👇
The insurgency has destroyed lives and livelihoods therefore it is necessary to adopt home grown food produce to meet the needed nourishing food requirements for healthy well-being which was hitherto abundant before the insurgency; with responsible production and consumption the vulnerable children would also have enough to eat.
Malnutrition is prevalent in children living in orphanage homes, it is vital to more monitor their nutritional status in order to improve on their diet by the use of alternative seasonal food sources that are not only cheaper but healthier; overall varying the daily diet of vulnerable kids by providing nourishing meals consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables in addition to the basic requirements for healthy diet.
Goal 13👉Climate Action👇
The insurgent attacks involves the use of explosive devices such as bomb, grenade and deadly chemical weapons which has adverse effects on the environment and adversely contributed to increased carbon emissions that had a negative impacts on human and animals. Therefore enlightenment program is crucial in preventing a repeat of insurgents crisis or a fall back in reprisal attacks and revenge by aggrieved people.
Goal 14👉Life Below Water👇
The health of underwater ecosystem is as important as the health of human beings; preventing water pollution through recycling plastic, and reducing waste by reuse, including also revamping materials that has not reach end of life which might affect the natural ecosystems must be encouraged to protect and prevent the destruction of life under water.
Goal 15👉Life On Land👇
The land must be free of danger by clearing away landmines and dangerous explosives in order for the farming communities to have access to their farmland and engage in their occupational inheritance of farming; prevention of erosion and desertification must be encouraged by avoiding human activities that are responsible for flooding, erosion and land degradation.
Goal 16👉Peace and Justice Strong Institutions👇
Justice must be served against people found guilty of clashes and crisis; affected people must be properly compensated as a deterrent to reoccurrence. Prevention of insurgency and violence in all the hot spots across the nation is necessary for peace because without peace there would be no progress and development in any community.
The northeast Nigeria has been devastated with mass killings, displacement and destruction; Justice would go a long way to guarantee sustainable peace because without justice there can never be peace anywhere in the world, not forgetting that forgiveness is also crucial.
Goal 17👉Partnerships to achieve the goal👇
It is vital for partnership with international donor agencies, outreach networks and Non Governmental Organization (NGO) for necessary humanitarian intervention for people in need of such assistance; private organizations, must also support government efforts for orphaned and vulnerable children in taking care of their wellbeing and welfare, whereas local clubs and associations within regional communities must partner with relevant bodies and authorities on the best practices to generate donations and donate to vulnerable people in needs such as provisions for foods and non-food items for orphaned and vulnerable children in region ravaged by war, crisis and clashes. The care of orphans and vulnerable children is vital therefore making it the responsibility of all people to make provision for their proper welfare and well-being such as food, and schools in order to control and curtail the negative impacts of abandoned kids upon the community.
Religious Teachings On Care Of Orphans And Vulnerable Kids
The two major religions of Islam and Christianity are ordained by the Almighty God to protect, provide and never to neglect the orphans, both religion also condemns discrimination, maltreatment and injustice against orphans. The Almighty has special blessings for people who take care and protects the orphans; the care for orphans in both religion of Islam and Christianity is an act of faith, it is preached, and encouraged for all believers to be their brothers keeper, share love, compassion, empathy and kindness towards orphans, widows and vulnerable people any where they are seen; sharing, caring and giving to orphaned children is a righteous deed which increases the status of the giver in the sight of the Almighty God. One of the pillars of Islam is Zakat which is an obligation that a Muslim has to donate a certain percentage or proportion of his or her wealth every year for charitable causes; giving away money to the poor purifies the individuals yearly earnings that are in excess, therefore Zakat is mandatory in Islam thus regarded as an act of worship. As far as Islam is concerned, zakat money belongs to the orphans and vulnerable hence it is an obligation upon leaders to make sure these beautiful set of people are being given and taken care of with their share of charity in Zakat. The power of charity never decreases wealth but rather blesses and increases it; spending wealth on orphans, like feeding, clothing, and sponsorship is an everlasting fountain of reward upon the donor person whose rewards goes on forever to outlives the good doer. Therefore every true Muslim has a responsibility towards the orphans as stated in the Holy Quran Surah Al-Baqarah 2 : Ayat 215 it says, They ask you, (O Muhammad), what they should spend (in charity). Say, “whatever wealth you spend let it be for your parents and kinsmen, the orphans, the needy and the travelers; and whatever charity you perform, then surely Allah is Ever-Knowing of it.”
Al-Quran (Surat Al-Nisa’, 4:2) stated that ”Give orphans their property, and do not exchange the bad for the good, and do not eat up their property by mixing it with your own. This surely is a mighty sin.”
Thus, if an orphan possesses wealth in any form Allah SWT commands the orphan guardian to to use it judiciously in their benefit, to conserve it for them, and if possible invest it in trustee in order to multiply it on their behalf, subsequently turn it over to them when they attain maturity.
It is forbidden in Islam to dispossessed orphans of their inheritance, and who ever consumes the possessions of the orphans has only consume a smoldering coal fire that would burn on endlessly to engulf the doers life; therefore its punishment is severe here in the world and in the hereafter.
Hadiths on charity stated that Allah’s Messenger Muhammad (SAW) said that “the best house among the Muslims is one where an orphan is well treated, and the worst house among the Muslims is one where an orphan is badly treated.” A true Muslim must follow his example and live by his teachings of mercy towards one another, love, compassion and kindness for all humanity. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “Kindness is a mark of faith, and whoever is not kind has no faith.” He said, “Verily, Allah is kind and He loves kindness in all things.” It was also reported that Prophet Muhammad (Peace And Blessings Be Upon Him) said, “The one who cares for an orphan and myself will be together in paradise like this,” and he held his two fingers together to illustrate!
The donation of a donor upon an orphan is a lifeline for a child who is all alone, it brightens up a bleak world of these special angels, show affection and give the orphans a beautiful gift today even it it is just a smile, support them by just being a rainbow in their cloud; helping the helpless, save a life, sponsor an orphaned child.
In today’s fast developing world where the struggle to occupy space and be seen as the most powerful nation in the world, orphan crisis becomes worldwide that is unique to individual countries where children suddenly become orphan due to war, genocide, insurgency, diseases, famine and even poverty whereas some parents living oftentimes neglect, abuse, incarcerate or remove from their homes children involve in drugs or just abandoned the kids with special needs; therefore the most powerful nation is a nation that gives strength to the weakest and most vulnerable of its people. The Holy Bible stated in several scriptures of warnings about dealings with orphan and widows, hence no society should allow or tolerate the abuse and unfair treatment of orphaned children; Almighty God focuses His wrath on those who do evil to the orphan and showers His blessings on those that care for the orphans.
The Holy Bible in James chapter 1:27 stated that “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their afflictions, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
Isaiah chapter 1:17 says “learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”
These are just a few of the many chapters and verses in the Holy books of Islam and Christianity, the holy command on the best treatment of orphans and widows; generosity to and donations towards the welfare of orphans is a religious duty; vulnerable kids are in need of all the care, affection and serenity humanity can provide, kindly contribute your widow’s mite to the cause of the widows and orphans for them to heal, and grow just like other kids in normal family homes, even if it is with a provision of just a daily meal!
Tears Of An Orphan
Fatherless and motherless
Life selfishly flew away with the soul of their parents
Silently treading the thorns of life paths all alone on a lonely road that leads to nowhere
Shadows, dark shadows of danger and destruction looms everywhere
Ocean of agony strong waves, rising, rising up fast
Yet again descending to engulf a life that is desolate and despondent
Running for cover into dark street corners of deadly alley, eerie than the valley of death
Cocooned with the veil of fear
Seeking for protection from the powerless ghost of parents long gone against the powerful evils in a cruel world
Fatherless and motherless
Weeping tears of blood from veins that no longer flows with blood
Pain and anguish flood the earth
No one cares no one is kind;
Seeking for a kind heart, the warm embrace of a pure soul, hope for a glorious future
A hand to hold and walk through a cold and chilly world that has lost all its warmth and humanity.
Orphans anywhere in the world can live to achieve their goals and aspirations in life just like any other child under the care and control of their biological parents; the situations orphans find themselves in the morning of their lives does not define how their night will end, therefore it is the collective responsibility of all to assist orphans anywhere and at anytime to live a happy and fulfilling life. Give hope to brighten up their lives, help blow the wind of change to lift them out of their hapless and helpless situation, kiss away their tears with love and kindness, turn their sorrows into smiles, and breathe a new life into their existence; every orphaned child needs a family, take responsibility for their welfare and wellbeing today because tomorrow might be too late!