The Orphanage in Sana’a Pleads for Help [Archives:2000/17/Reportage]

April 24 2000

Jalal Al-Shar’abi,
Yemen Times
The Orphanage in Sana’a is a national institution built before the revolution in 1922 and affiliated to the Ministry of Education. It aims at providing orphans with educational, cultural and health services. However, a visitor to this center will never fail to notice the miserable condition of these poor and weak section of the society whose number has mounted to 1500. The center is in crying need of many basic facilities, especially pertaining to education, health as well as housing.
It is a pity that the school that once used to be the center for graduating great and well-known personalities is now lacking some of the basic facilities. The most outstanding of the personalities who was the alumnus of this institution was the late Marshal Abdullah Al-Salal. Now, this school lacks the basic essentials of good education; for example, there are no chairs in the make shift classes. The lack of these services has forced the administration of the center to refuse entry to about 500 orphans each year driving them to streets.
The miserable condition of the center has also led to the spread of diseases among the students. The administration was not able to do a thing to save these students’ lives mainly due to the limited resources of the center. There are, for instance, about five students who have heart problems and are in urgent need to travel abroad for treatment. However, the present financial of the center is too low to consider these deserving cases.
The Ministry of health, however, is doing a great job, despite the resources crunch. Yet, it should do more and more for the sake of these kids who are very poor and have no one to take care of them. Besides, it has become almost impossible to look after the deteriorating psychological case of each and every student in the center.
The health department at the center fails in fulfilling some of the basic essential needs of the inmates. The department lacks the resources to buy some optical and hearing aid for those who have eye and ear problems. The center suffers from the non-existence of an ambulance or another car for following sick cases up. Malnutrition related diseases have also spread among new students as they come from families who are very poor.
There is also another problem that may affect students’ mental hygiene in the long-run. That is, absence of motherly care and attention of a female matron might stifle their emotional maturity, a problem that deserves serious attention.
The housing section in the center lacks adequate basic amenities such as washing machines. There is only one washing machine to cater 20 students. They also need detergent tools such as soap, antiseptic, etc. The center also lacks essential furniture items such as beds, cupboards and bed materials like pillows, blankets, etc, let alone other facilities such as TVs, gardens, etc.
The fourth housing buildings: 26 September, 22 May and 7 July are crowded with students; the fourth building 14 October has not been inaugurated yet.
Regarding furniture, a report presented by the center to institutions concerned made it clear that the housing section needs at least 1500 rugs while the available stock stands at 1200; 3600 blankets while items available are 2400; 1300 beds while the available beds are 800; and 1300 cupboards while there are 600.
Although the center depends on the Ministry of Education for providing nutritious diet to the inmates, there is a remarkable decline in the standard and items of food provided to students. Earlier there used to be 14 items of food. Now, the number has dwindled down to only 6.
The center does also suffer miserably from the constant cuts of electricity. One consequence of this is the breakdown of heaters which are of primary importance to students, especially in winter seasons. To make matters worse, there is no generator in the center to alleviate the problem.
The activities in the center are very limited. The environmental, cultural, music, art, agricultural, technical and red crescent activities are almost not existent in the center. It is a pity, there are so many talents among the inmates who can’t flourish due to lack of encouragement.
Yemen Times visited the center to review the condition of these students and to report the points of view of those in charge of the center. Mr. Abdul Malek Mohammed Hassan Al-Wadei, general manager of the Orphanage, said “The Orphanage was built in 1922. It has been pursuing its sacred mission during the different governments. There are six administrative departments in the center: the School Administration, Internal Department, Activities Department, Health Department, Secretary Department and Students’ Affairs Department. The center embraces students from different sections of the society including those who are suffering from different diseases. Some are suffering from permanent, incurable diseases, others have no families, and so forth.
The center can never do its job properly, if it does not have the resources needed to help those students. We have the ambition to prepare students physically as well as mentally so that they become sensitive citizens and contribute in the development of the state just like their fellow men. However, we suffer from the ever-increasing number of students and the limited number of rooms. There are 1400 students in the center and about 500 waiting for their turn to find a place in the center.
We do not only teach students and bring them up, we also do our best to ensure their secure future. For example, we try to ensure students’ access to higher studies. As a matter of fact, we have many programs for these students, but the more formidable problem we face is the limitation of resources. We do call upon the national as well as international organizations and benevolent people to give these guys their generous help.”Mr. Ali Abdul Khalik, director of the center, said “The Orphanage is a historic and pioneering institution in bringing well-being to a vulnerable section if the society who face he sake of the country.
We face lots of difficulties, the most outstanding of which are that of resources. Every year we accept some students, however, to our dismay we are forced under the present circumstances to reject many of them mainly because of the limited space available. Orphanages should be established in different governorates of the Republic, so as to help relieve the pressure we have in this school.
Besides, it is only appropriate that this orphanage should be affiliated with the Ministry of Social Affairs. At present, it is affiliated with the Ministry of Education, which meets all its expenses.”Mohammed Ismail Mahyoob, teacher in the Activities Department, said “If resources are available, we will be able to nourish latent students’ talents and merits. We, in the Activities Department, do our best to achieve this especially in the agricultural field.
The campus is in extremely unhygienic condition due to the lack of garbage cans. Though the Municipality of Sana’a has promised to provide us with some cans, so far we have received nothing.”Mohammed Hassan Mohammed Al-Fakih, chairman of First Aid Health Department, said “All the students in the center are in need of health care. However, the resources available for us are not enough. The donations received from some generous people have helped to establish a health unit which we do our best to improve. We highly appreciate the help and cooperation of the Health Minister in this regard. He has given instructions to hospitals to treat students free.
Some of the difficulties in the health field are as follows:
1) Deficiency in immunization services.
2) Deficiency in medicine and medical equipment.
3) Limited number of qualified doctors, most of whom work voluntarily.
4) Difficulties in referring serious sick cases abroad.
5) Non-existence of a qualified psychiatrists.
6) Non-existence of appropriate checking medical lab equipment such as microscope, x-rays, etc.
7) Difficulties in obtaining the optical, and hearing aids for visually and hearing handicapped students.
8) Lack of means for transportation.”
To cut a long story short, conditions of the Orphanage are horrible and needs a real commitment and support from the government as well as other charities to retrieve the situation and its past status before it is too late. We do call upon the generous people to think for a moment about those poor and afflicted individuals who are hapless victims of destiny and empathize with the sufferers.