A meeting chaired by Archbishop Douglas Young to discuss the establishment of an orphanage centre has been held in the Western Highlands Province.
During the meeting, constructive ideas and experiences were shared with special emphasis on social change, one of the main contributing factor towards culture, tradition and customs in the community.
It was greed that traditions and customs are gradually fading away as PNG move into the modern world. Those elements of culture once valued by our ancestors are now slowly fading away.
Changes in the society take many forms: parents dying of HIV/AIDS, marriage break downs, inter-cultural marriages, urban drift and unemployment.
Orphans tend to have no place in family and community. They are neglected and rejected among their own people.
Traditionally children were valued but now this is not happening.
The rejection of orphans is alarming as people want to take care of their own children and, although there is awareness of orphans, there is no exception.
“Society’s rejection is not easy,” said Ms Miriam, who runs Kumdi orphanage, saying that orphans are over-looked, stigmatized and discriminated against. “They call them bastards.”
Dr Uma Ambi said a child needs good physical conditions and emotional warmth. “When the child grows up, they can hate people,” she said.
“They can also experience greater mental issues like depression, loneliness and other emotional issues. They can lie to get attention. They can be sexually abused and commit suicide.”
Some of the reasons why there is social rejection of orphans is land. Because of anxiety about land shortage or concern that their biological children should inherit land the orphans are seen as outcasts in society.
Sanguma or sorcery related killings of both parents or one parent can also impact negatively upon the child as other people in the community say the child can also be possessed. People don’t want to take care of the orphans for fear of death.
“We will focus within the Catholic concept and look at what needs to be prioritized,” said Archbishop Young in conclusion.
He stressed that the Church will also work in collaboration with government and non-governmental organisations that promote child rights and welfare.