Mbabane: It seem like it didn’t cross the minds of those in the Social Welfare Department in the Deputy Prime Minister’s (DPM) office to visit the various neighbourhood care points across the country to monitor the progress of the Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVCs), in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Communications Officer in the DPM’s office Mihla Khumalo told Independent News on Monday that they are government’s direct custodians of orphans in the country and they are the ones who must ensure the welfare of these people, and they would henceforth embark on a wide exercise of going around the centres and ensuring safety.
Khumalo said most of the orphanages in the country boast the support international donors and as the DPMs office, they have put their hopes of their safety on the donors. One of rhr country’s largest orphanages is Bulembu Eswatini Ministries.
Bulembu Ministries is reportedly owl-eyed in ensuring that the orphans are locked in their houses in fear of contracting the virus.
Bulembu Ministries Swaziland, also known as BMS, houses more than 400 orphans in shelters strewn around the former mining town. Communications Manager, Bianca Puttkammer said that due to the sensitiveness of the orphanage they were left with no option but found it necessary to cut off moves in and around the town to protect the children. “We could not risk the health of the children by allowing business to operate as usual,” said Puttkammer.
Puttkammer said they also had to shut down business operations like the one and only lodge which accommodates the many visitors from across the world. Other closures include guest houses which are some of the sources of income for the orphanage. The orphanage runs a dairy farm, bakery and a mineral water business, all which have been shut down until government eases the lockdown.
Workers laid off Sources within the orphanage also revealed that management also had to lay off some of the workers including the teachers who taught at the orphans’ school called Christian Academy. It remains to be seen how the laid off workers will eke out a living as a number of them are foreigners, mostly from Zimbabwe.