MADINAH — In light of repeated administrative bunglings at the Taibah Children Village, an orphanage for girls in Madinah, Okaz/Saudi Gazette contacted a former caretaker at the Village to get background on the Village’s claim that the young girls are allegedly creating so much trouble at the orphanage. This issue had surfaced after new management and an entirely new staff was appointed at the Village.
A former caretaker, S.W. told Okaz/Saudi Gazette, “Everyone involved must take into consideration that these girls are adolescents and they are in need of someone to understand them, befriend them, and communicate with them. It is emotionally difficult for them to adjust to the new staff and to acclimate themselves with all the changes going on around them. They need help and support to be able to get along with the new caretakers.
“It is not easy on the girls to forget their old caretakers and all the pleasant moments they shared together over the years. The new staff was imposed on the young girls, they had no say in the decision, and now the administration expects the girls to immediately and smoothly adjust to all these changes. Instead of using positive reinforcement and encouragement, the administration used threats of contacting the police, denying them their daily allowance, and preventing them from visiting relatives in the city.
“As long as the administration continues such heartless and merciless ways of treating these orphan girls, problems will persist. The management must recruit caretakers and counselors who are patient, have excellent communication and social skills, and who are experienced in working with children with a troubled history. Only then can the Village return to its previous tranquility. The girls who were punished, jailed, and transferred deserve to come back to the place where they have left behind many good friends and where they have spent their childhood years,” added S.W.
One of the orphans at the center accused one of the staff of provoking the girls and psychologically pressuring them until they could not bear it anymore causing some of the girls to lose their temper.
She recalled, “We shared a pleasant relationship of mutual respect, politeness, and kindness with a staff member and the management suddenly replaced her with someone else. The management intentionally picked on us and treated us harshly until a quarrel ensued and got out of hand, and some girls were accused of attacking the staff leader. The girls were sent to jail for two months and five of them were transferred to Riyadh and Jeddah. Our friends who were sent away have vowed to remain calm and to follow rules of the Village and we asked the management to allow our friends to return.”
Dalal Al-Ateeq, a social worker, said, “The girls sent away to Riyadh and Jeddah have already been punished enough and they have learned from their mistakes. They no longer want to be distanced from their friends. In the past two months, the girls have profusely apologized, they improved their behavior, they did well academically, they did not cause any chaos, and they promise to respect all staff back at their orphanage in Madinah.
“Also, the girls who were addicted to cigarette smoking before successfully quit. Their current teachers have noticed a significant positive change in the girls and the girls have expressed the desire to return to Taibah Children Village. Reports on the girls’ progress and requests to welcome them back were sent to the Village but there has been no response from the administration until now.”
The principal of the orphanage that the girls are temporarily staying at in Riyadh admits that the girls did make mistakes but she believes that they deserve a second chance.
“Yes, the girls should learn that they will be held accountable for their actions, and that undesirable ramifications will result from inappropriate behavior. However, the girls are now more cooperative and more compliant. The problems of running away, smoking, going out unattended to shopping malls, and sleeping over at friends’ houses should have been treated using a multi-dimensional approach.
“The girls were lacking counseling, guidance, a social support network at the Village, and communication skills training. If the problems were properly dealt with earlier on they would not have compounded to such a level,” said Shar’ah Al-Qahtani, principal of a girls’ orphanage in Riyadh. — Okaz/SG