Why Clothe The Naked?
I saw many humans on whom there were no clothes, and I saw many clothes in which there were no humans. *Rumi
Poverty in Ghana is predominantly rural. 70% of the country’s poor people live in rural areas where they have limited access to basic social services, safe water, all-year roads, electricity and telephone services (IFAD, 2006b).
Due to the high rate of poverty in the rural areas of Ghana, families in the villages do not only lack food, shelter, proper healthcare, educational facilities, water, and electricity but also clothing, information, and funds for formal education. Villagers are seen wearing the same oversize and overused tattered clothes almost all year round. Some of the clothes that the rural dwellers, especially children, wear are not fit to be used even as rugs in many homes in the cities. It is so common to see a child who has just about 2 to 5 clothes which he/she wears all year round. Children here are also seen walking in the community, to school, and to church or mosque bare-footed.
On the other hand, due to inadequate funding, orphans in orphanages, mentally challenged patients in Psychiatric Hospitals, and prisoners in Ghana suffer similar fate with regard to clothing. According to the latest statistics released by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, Ghana has over 1 million orphans and the numbers continue to grow. About 4,500 of these children are in orphanages. All orphanages in Ghana seek support from the kind-hearted people of the public to take care of the orphans under their care. However, in order to get media attention, and for easier accessibility, most donors prefer to send their donations to orphanages in the urban centers, leaving the other orphanages outside the urban centers almost neglected. Hence, such neglected orphanages are in dire need of clothing assistance to be able to address the clothing needs of the orphans under their care.
Also, on papers, the government of Ghana is supposedly clothing and feeding mentally sick patients in Psychiatric Hospitals. But in reality, the psychiatric hospitals need a lot of assistance to survive. For instance, according to a senior doctor in one of the psychiatric hospitals in Ghana, the government stopped providing uniforms for psychiatric patients so many years ago, leaving the responsibility of providing clothing for psychiatric patients in the hands of their families. Meanwhile psychiatric hospital authorities even have problem locating the families of most patients under their care. It is unfortunate that some relatives, due to reasons known to themselves, do not visit their wards once they are put on admission, or even come for them when they are discharged. Most families who do not want to be stigmatized by society give wrong addresses to the hospital, making it difficult to locate them even when their wards are fine. Now who to provide clothes for the patients within the hospitals, and clothes for them to wear home when they are discharged is a question which is yet to be answered.
Furthermore, most inmates of Ghanaian prisons also suffer rejection from their families immediately they are identified as criminals or even remanded. So many prisoners depend on their prison uniforms till they finish serving their sentences. What to wear during special occasions in the prisons, and what to wear home on the day of their release becomes a problem.
Meanwhile, many people in even the cities of Ghana, not to talk about people in developed countries, have more clothes in their closets than they have ever needed.
Another major challenge facing children in the villages of Ghana is the lack of money to finance their formal education. There are many children in the villages who are not schooling, indicating clearly that, even the subsidized basic education in Ghana is still not affordable to the villagers. Others are able to start but are not able to complete junior high, and those who are able to finish junior high school end their formal education there, mostly for financial reasons. It is important to note that, this problem is not peculiar to village children alone, children in orphanages, and children from poor families in the cities of Ghana face same challenges.
Aside the problems mentioned above, under privileged people in Ghanaian; villages, orphanages, psychiatric hospitals, and prisons also lack access to basic information and proper counselling, which could equip them with the right knowledge and confidence to do some extra ordinary things that could turn their living conditions around positively. It is important to note that, the vulnerability of people living in the above mentioned communities stems from the fact that they need additional support and care following the trauma of separation. Failure to support them exposes them to various conditions which could adversely affect them for the rest of their lives.
Orphans in orphanages, for instance, live, school, and do everything in the same confined and mostly remote environment, preventing them from meeting to freely mingle and play with other children. Orphans in orphanages, rural children, mentally sick people in psychiatric hospitals, and prisoners of Ghana live a one way life each day of their lives seeing same faces and interacting with the same people almost all year round. This is not a very healthy practice since it may affect their sense of belonging, self confidence, and their interpersonal lives.