An orphanage is a home where children with no known or responsible guardians willing to take care of them are kept. The orphanage helps to provide a family-like environment for these children. Orphanages also play major roles in nurturing children and assist in putting them up for adoption in the proper ways.
Boko Haram, the Southern Kaduna genocide, the Agatu massacre, the Syrian war and increased cases of child abandonment continues to create orphans in need of homes. Pending adoptions, there is an increased need for orphanages to take care of these children.
An orphanage is a non-profit organization. It should not be set up with the intention of making money. It should be set up with the sole aim of catering for needy and vulnerable children.
Before starting up, I recommend every interested party to prepare themselves by doing the following;
• Volunteer in an Orphanage
Volunteering helps give you experience of how an orphanage is run on a day to day basis. If you volunteer in a reputable orphanage, you will learn from the workings of the best.
• Get Professional Training
Acquiring and developing the skill of caring for others is also important if you intend to be successful.
Participation in training courses will help to further the skills that you need to effectively run the orphanage.
• Adequate Research
Research as much as possible on how to start an orphanage. Focus on areas like children and infant care, child psychology, non-profit fund raising etc.
After doing the required work, it is time to put the infrastructure on ground.
There are things that need to be considered before proceeding. They are;
1. Raising Capital
Before you start an orphanage, you need to be very clear as to how you intend to raise the capital for starting and running it. If you don’t, you have to map out a plan as to how you intend to raise funds. It is a common mistake to believe that your orphanage to begin to generate funds to run itself from the onset. Slowly but steadily, with publicity and the proper use of social media, your orphanage will thrive with donations from Nigerians.
In selecting a location for your orphanage, go for clean, quiet and serene environments. Don’t forget that the end goal is to raise children there so it is important that the environment be conducive. It is also important that the orphanage be visible and accessible to donors. The orphanage should also be located in a place with room for expansion.
The building type needed for an orphanage is largely dependent on the number of children that you intend to accommodate at any given time. As long as there is room enough for every child.
At minimum, the kids should have a sleeping area, eating area, play area and study area for the more matured ones among them. Have it in mind that before you will be allowed to register your orphanage, there some stringent requirements that have to be met with respect to the location.
3. Get Registered
The setting up and running of orphanages is strictly regulated by the government. It is illegal, even criminal to start an orphanage in Nigeria without first going through necessary registration process. The registration processes and the penalty for defaulters are captured in the Child Rights Act. It is absolutely important that you register first with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) as a non-profit organization under Section C of the Companies and Allied Matters Act.
4. Have a Non-Profit Business Plan Drafted
It is important to have a plan as to how you intend to run your orphanage. This plan should include things like the number of personnel, criteria for accepting children, strategy on fund raising, and other important aspects of the project.
5. Publicize Your Orphanage
Ensure that you publicize your orphanage. It enables you attract donors and patrons to your orphanage. Publicity can take various forms such as flyers, social media, posters and adverts.
6. Create an Online Presence
Creating a website for your orphanage will give you even more exposure. There are some international bodies, agencies and individuals who adopt orphanages. This will help to strengthen the financial base of your orphanage. Royal Seed Homes in Ghana for instance, has monthly reports sent to subscribers and donors.
7. Build Trust
There are lots of orphanages scattered over major cities. Some have been found to be dubious. Stand out from the crowd by being honest and open in all your dealings.