Life as an orphan is undeniably challenging. There are constant threats to safety, from exploitation and trafficking to abuse and forced labour. When a vulnerable child has no one to rely on but themselves, the world can be a very cruel place. When winter arrives, it only gets worse.
Threats to Winter Orphans
There are thought to be more than 153 million orphaned children worldwide, but the true number could actually be far greater. Many children slip under the radar, especially in more remote areas. We work in several countries worldwide, providing essential aid to vulnerable orphans. Still, despite our best efforts some children don’t get help because they’re being trafficked, exploited, or are inaccessible and unreachable.
Winter only exacerbates this problem, typically because of the shorter days and longer nights. Daylight provides relative protection from those who intend to cause harm to parentless children because it makes it harder to hide. But when night falls, the anonymity and the cloak of darkness makes it far easier for children to be snatched, abused, assaulted, and exploited.
With daylight hours in some countries more than halving during winter, orphaned children become even more vulnerable as soon as night-time comes. Orphans in Need acts as a winter charity which means we continue our work, even when the weather turns. We aim to get as many children off the streets as possible, ensuring their safety from the dark and the criminals who lurk within it. We do this by placing them in caring homes where possible, supporting orphanages making sure they have the resources they need, or housing children in our Orphans Village where we know they are safe day and night.
Winter Health Hazards
As well as the threats posed by gangs and individuals with impure intentions against vulnerable children, the main danger to orphans is winter health issues. The cold weather is unpleasant for those of us who are privileged to have warm homes, hot meals, and thermal clothes, but to orphans and those living in poverty, winter is not unpleasant – it’s fatal.
Hypothermia is one of the biggest risks of winter, and it doesn’t need to be freezing for a person to enter a hypothermic state. Hypothermia occurs when your body temperature dips below 35˚c. At this stage, your body will lose heat faster than it can generate it which puts a strain on the heart. Unless immediate medical attention is sought, hypothermia will become severe, and death will follow. Most of us can keep our body temperature above 35˚c through warm coats, hot meals and drinks, and central heating, but orphaned children don’t have this option.
Many single orphans (with one surviving parent) are living in sub-par conditions where food is scarce, and shelter is dilapidated. This means a hot meal is a rarity, and heating is simply not available. Paired with a lack of thermal clothes and the fact that many children will have to go out to work, scavenge, or collect water, it’s easy to see how they are susceptible to hypothermia. Double orphans (with no surviving parents) who have no other family are even more exposed due to living on the streets with no protection at all.
If you sponsor an orphan through Orphans in Need, you can help us provide essential food, clothes, and heat sources to orphaned and widowed families, reducing the risk of hypothermia and death.
Winter is synonymous with disease, including influenza and pneumonia. It can also aggravate those with existing respiratory conditions like asthma, and circulatory diseases. Covid-19 also peaks in winter, meaning there are several healthcare threats. In the UK, whilst there is an excess winter mortality rate whereby more people die during winter due to the prevalence of diseases and infections, most of us can access good healthcare and prevent serious illness through things like the Covid-19 and flu vaccines. Orphans don’t have this option.
Healthcare in the countries we work in is limited and inaccessible to many, meaning thousands of orphans die every winter from preventable diseases. Not just this, but many children become orphans during winter when their parents become sick and die due to things like pneumonia.
You can help protect existing orphans and ensure fewer children lose their parents by making your Zakat donation to Orphans in Need. We will use your kind donation to provide essential and preventative healthcare to orphans living in overcrowded orphanages, and ensure those living in single-parent families receive the help they need to remain healthy, including their parents.
Make a Difference Today
There are so many ways you can support an orphan this winter, and it doesn’t need to cost a lot. Every donation helps us protect innocent children who have been dealt a challenging hand in life. With your support, we can ensure these children are given the care and nurturing they need to live a fulfilled and prosperous life, even if they haven’t had the best start.
What’s more, donating to our orphan appeal is an act of Sadaqah Jariyah because your contribution will have a life-long impact on a child in need that will continue to benefit them for the rest of their days. Please give what you can and alleviate the suffering of orphaned children this winter.