• 24 May

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What is Orphanhood and How Can You Help?

Orphanhood can have a significant mental, emotional, and physical impact on a child. In the absence of parental care, orphan children go through neglect, fear, loneliness and even abuse. Due to cultural and social differences, orphanhood can have slightly different meanings. For instance, in some countries, orphans can see the lasting effects of losing a parent, even in their late teens and beyond. Generally, the term ‘orphan’ is used to suggest vulnerability and helplessness.  

What is Orphanhood?

An orphan is defined as a child under the age of 18 living without one or both parents, according to the accepted orphan definition. In case of losing one parent, the child could be considered an orphan due to the vulnerability of the other parent. Some organisations include neglect from parents or poor social and economic conditions among the causes that put a child in the category of orphanhood.  

According to UNICEF, there are 153 million orphan children around the world, and almost 5700 children become orphans every day because of war, disaster, poverty, disease, or other similar reasons. While some orphan children are being supported by orphanages and other alternative provisions, a large number still need help with basic survival needs.  

Why Orphans Need Help

Traditionally, orphanhood is seen as a situation of weakness and dependence. However, this is not always the case, and it depends on the social status, culture, and particular situation of a child. In some circumstances, extended family or strong social circle provides the necessary support to orphan children. However, in many cases, losing a parent at a young age exposes a child to many risks, including malnutrition, homelessness, and violence.  

In areas affected by war, poverty, earthquakes, or other disasters, becoming an orphan is a huge disadvantage that leads to untold hardship. Such situations make the lives of orphans harder. Children are at a greater risk of exploitation as they are still learning about themselves and the world around them. In times of crisis, these risks increase manifold as these circumstances give rise to abuse. Orphan children suffer from an absolute lack of necessary food, water, and shelter in addition to emotional support from a loved one. Imagine the plight of orphaned children during calamity when it becomes difficult for an adult to find nutritious meals.  

Orphan children need protection against violence, disease, and starvation. While humanitarian organisations conduct aid work in many areas, they rely on our support to continue their crucial work to save orphan children from harm.  

The Reward of Looking After an Orphan

Looking after people in need and orphans is a highly rewarding act in general. From an Islamic perspective, it is a virtuous deed that accompanies great reward. There are many verses of the Quran and hadith stressing the importance of helping orphans. In addition to the promise of reward, these verses include a severe warning for those who neglect the orphan children. Allah (SWT) says in the Quran: 

“No! But you do not honour the orphan. And you do not encourage one another to feed the poor.” [89:17,18] 

In another verse, those who engage in charitable deeds have been mentioned in praiseworthy words:   

“And they give food in spite of love for it to the needy, the orphan, and the captive.” [76:8]  

In authentic hadith, the Prophet (SAW) mentioned the promise of paradise in his own company for those who spent on orphaned children.  

“I and the one who sponsors an orphan will be in Paradise like these two – and he gestured with his forefinger and middle finger, holding them apart.” [Bukhari, 5304] 

How Can You Help the Orphans?

Orphan children need our compassion and generosity to go through the worst times of their lives. No one wants to see themselves or their family members in the above-mentioned situations. It is important to help them by donating to charitable organisations that provide essential survival support to children in need. Kind treatment and foster care are important parts of what you can do to help orphans around you. In other parts of the world, charities execute the aid work with opportunities for potential donors to contribute.  

If you are thinking about how to help orphans, there are many ways to support them. You can join hands with a charitable organisation and sponsor an orphan. You can also donate towards other programmes to assist children in need. Orphans in Need is a global orphan charity working to help vulnerable children worldwide. Support our work by donating to our Orphan Village project, Global Orphan Care or Orphan Sponsorship Programme. Your generosity gives us the strength to carry out our vital work in areas in need of help. Join hands with Orphans in Need to continue the fight against child poverty and secure a better future for the vulnerable children of today.