Editor's Comment

Give children a chance

ZAMBIA is a professed Christian nation. Such a declaration entails that its people live godly lives.
The declaration of the country as a Christian nation was done in good faith because it was designed to ensure that citizens embrace biblical values.
But the happenings in the country are far from reflecting the nature of Jesus Christ – whose character should mirror the people who profess His name.
For instance, who on earth would have imagined that the country could have mothers dumping or abandoning newborn children in medical facilities?
The University Teaching Hospital, the country’s biggest referral medical facility, has reported the case of 10 babies having been abandoned by their mothers.
This is an abomination, to say the least.
There are a lot of women and couples who are in dire need of children but cannot simply have them. They have been everywhere – fertility clinics, crusades, witch doctors and all, but have still failed to have children.
Some of the abandoned babies are from teenage mothers and sex workers or divorced women who have no financial capacity to take care of their children. They give birth and run away. High poverty levels in the country could also be a huge contributor.
Due to such situations, some women find it easy to abandon babies because they are not ready for the responsibilities of being mothers.
Baby dumping is only one way of getting rid of an unplanned or unwanted baby. Apart from dumping or abandoning babies, staff at water purification plants have reported seeing the foetuses flushed down lavatories.
All this shows that women and girls are falling pregnant without preparation. They highlight unmet needs of family planning services or lack of access to contraceptives.
This may be so because abortion is not allowed save in very rare and stringent circumstances. There is need for Government and communities to engage in frank discussions around abortion and access to contraceptives.
Teenage girls and sex workers should embrace contraception to avoid unwanted pregnancies. Women are better off preventing pregnancies than aborting or running away from babies.
Government, through the Ministry of Community Development, should strengthen the capacity of foster homes so that they are able to look after abandoned children.
While there are a number of orphanages around the country, lack of or erratic funding from the treasury is affecting the smooth running of these institutions.
Citizens, on the other hand, should develop a culture of not leaving the burden of the welfare system on the State because it has so many responsibilities.
Instead, at individual and community levels, citizens should take it upon themselves to be giving to foster homes.
Foster homes have so many needs which citizens could, individually or collectively with neighbours, friends or workmates, meet some of them.
Zambians are known to be a caring lot and that is why the extended family system is still thriving. However, most citizens are constrained from adopting children from foster homes because they fear to be accosted by families.
Hospitals, on the other hand, should come up with proper record systems so that people who are taken in – whether in the labour ward or other general wards – are traceable.
The bottom line to women is that every person has a right to live and do so decently. No baby deserves to be abandoned.
All children are potential presidents, bishops, lawyers, accountants, pilots, Members of Parliament, judges, miners, secretary general of the United Nations, etc, and therefore should not be abandoned irrespective of the circumstances.

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