Muscat: “Humanitarian” residents are donating OMR2.5million every year to make life a little better for Oman’s orphans, but hundreds of youngsters are still looking for financial fostering this year.
Some 800 orphans under the age of 18 are currently awaiting community sponsorship, according to the Oman Charitable Organisation (OCO) organisers of the Orphan Sponsorship Programme.
The children are mainly Omani but also come from Yemen, Syria and other troubled zones. Residents of all nationalities have ploughed millions into helping since the sponsorship programme began in 2000, but hundreds of children are still waiting.
Any resident can sign up to pay a monthly contribution in order to cover a registered orphan’s expenses, and thousands of residents across the Sultanate already have.
The number of orphans registered with OCO is more than 7,000, and it is growing every month. Of those registered, 6,000 orphans currently have sponsors. However, only 100 orphans are currently in the process of being sponsored.
“The goal was to foster social development in the country. We had noticed that monetary support for orphans has been low. While orphans without any family are sponsored by the state, many orphans have lost their primary caregiver and find themselves among family with limited income,” explained Azza Ibrahim Al Muqbali, OCO Orphans Department head.
To sponsor an orphan, individuals have to pay OMR35 a month, which amounts to OMR420 for the whole year. Orphans are eligible for the sponsorship programme until they are 18 years of age.
“We specifically provide monetary support because we feel that integration with family is most important. We want orphans to connect with their identity, even with the absence of primary family members,” said Al Muqbali.
The Orphan Sponsorship Programme began out of country with Palestinian orphans in 2000. It then continued with orphan sponsorship within the Sultanate and has since spread across the world.
“The issue is that they may still be struggling with limited income, and so we support them to elevate their quality of life, in aspects of education, health, income, and standard of living,” she added.
Public support for the programme has increased substantially over the years. “There has been a lot of awareness through social media, and a lot of personal initiatives unlike anything we’ve seen in the past,” said Al Muqbali.
A spokesperson from the Ministry of Social Development (MOSD) echoed this positive community development. “There are so many charitable organisations which work primarily through volunteering. Issues range from child support, to disability, and the organisations operate all over the country in small and large scale,” she said.
The orphan sponsorship programme has evolved internationally as well, with OCO Orphan Sponsorship Programme projects in Thailand, Indonesia, Yemen, Sudan, and Palestine.
In Oman, the OMR420 annual contribution for sponsorship splits into two parts of OMR360 and OMR60. The first part is kept aside for monthly expenses, and rest is divided into three equal parts of OMR20 for the two Eid celebrations and school expenses.
“In the future, we hope to have wide and extensive coverage of all orphans in the country, and further engagement with the community. We feel that there is a new generation with great leadership qualities and genuine awareness for humanitarian action, and we only hope that this continues with all projects within the OCO,” said Al Muqbali.
The MOSD representative urged community members to take action, but only towards registered volunteering and charity platforms.
“The OCO and registered charities within the ministry are the only ones which are verified officially by the government. We urge the community to focus on these organisations if they would like to provide support and be engaged.”
Those interested in the sponsorship programme may email the OCO at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information, call 242979(28/29), or directly visit the OCO at their main building in Al Khuwair.