…When Sodomy, Sexual Exploitation, Other Inhuman Treatment Take Over Rev. Lamina’s Orphanage
Anas Aremeyaw Anas Reports From Echoing Hill Village, Accra, Ghana
It was meant to be a mission in mercy, a move to minimise the misfortunes of the marginalised minors and mend the malaise menacing their humanity. Unfortunately, it’s turned out to be a mean mercenary misadventure marked by molestation, maltreatment and massive misery.
The Echoing Hills Village, established in 1994 by Rev Cordell Brown at Madina-Ogbojo, is gradually turning into a den of debauchery with the immoral and psychological development of its child inmates severely compromised.
Secret filming in the orphanage revealed that both caretakers and children in the home are having a field day as far as sexual escapades are concerned, as the authorities turn a blind eye to the practice while victims who dare to complain or take action are rather punished and petrified into submission.
The facility was established to serve as a home for the homeless, orphans, neglected children including; children with disabilities, special children, and victims of child abuse including sexual abuse. But now, it is a rather inhospitable place for anyone seeking solace from abuse, much more sexual abuse.
Caretakers and Inmates Sleeping with Girls in the Orphanage
In a conversation that was secretly filmed, an inmate of the home by the name Kushi narrated how he continuously had sex with one of the girls in the orphanage and how the same girl graces the bed of a caretaker of the orphanage also.
According to Kushi, he usually sleeps with the girl in question by the name Nana Akua (not her real name) in some of their classrooms after everyone had left the premises. And this sometimes takes place after a long wait for Nana Akua to emerge from the house of Joseph, the rival Nana Akua once disclosed to him that he gave her 2 Cedis after a particular escapade. The following is a transcript of a conversation between Kushi and Tiger in relation to sexual activities in the orphanage.
Tiger: So, how many times have you had sex with her?
Kushi: Three times
Tiger: You’ve had sex with her three times?
Kushi: Yes, three times. Are you asking about 2018 or 2017? Is it this 2018?
Oh! I’ve just started with that of 2018. This is the first in 2018.
Tiger: So, how many times did you do it in 2017?
Kushi: Three times in 2017.
Tiger: Three times?
Kushi: Yes. It’s even more than three.
Tiger: Where does it take place?
Kushi: When I was schooling at the estates, Yes, I was having sex with her in that building. You see they don’t attend worship on Wednesdays.
So, I ask her to go and wait for me in that building or pretend to be going to Teacher Ampofo’s place. Should anyone ask, I instruct her to tell them she was going to Ampofo’s place.
So, she’ll tell whoever asks her that she’s going to Ampofo’s place. There was a day that Ama (not her real name), Maame Serwaa (not her real name), Nana Akua and I had a walk. I signalled Jennifer to go to that place, as we approached Mr Ampofo’s gate. After a few more steps the other two asked of Nana Akua’s whereabout and I told them she had already left.
I then walked the other two back to the school after which I went back to Nana Akua to have sex with her. She told me Teacher also has sex with her. The day I had sex with her, I found 2 Cedis in the pocket of her shorts and when I asked her where she got it from, she told me Teacher gave it to her. So, I asked her why she allowed the teacher to have sex with her while we were still dating. I then told her not to allow the teacher to have sex with her again as I was her husband (boyfriend).
The following is also a transcript of a conversation between another inmate, Maame Serwaa (not her real name), and Tiger in relation to her raping ordeal in the orphanage.
Maame Serwaa: (Narrates her ordeal) So after sweeping I collected the waste to go and dump it. I asked another resident who swept the backyard over there whether she needed the dustbin. She answered, “yes”. I told her I was going to dump the refuse (waste). I saw someone at the refuse dump which got me alarmed. I didn’t know who it was. After dumping the waste, I turned to leave but I heard someone calling me and when I asked for his name, he answered, “Kushi”. He asked why I didn’t respond to his call on Wednesday and I told him I had no reason. He wanted to kiss me, though I refused; he forced me, pushed me to the ground (floor) and raped me. The case was reported to Aunty Nora. Aunty Nora referred me to Aunty Maggie. Aunty Maggie asked me to go report it to Pastor (Reverend Lamina) but I didn’t. So she did. I was bathing when pastor came to instruct me to go and work in the kitchen after I was done. He told me he’ll speak to me after I’m done.
Tiger: What did he say to you when he summoned you?
Maame Serwaa: He assigned me to work till Monday. It was until yesterday that he told me I could go to school on Tuesday.
Tiger: Did you go apologize? Did you apologize to Pastor? Why?
Maame Serwaa: I apologized to him in the morning.
Tiger: What did you do to pastor?
Maame Serwaa: I did nothing to him.
Tiger: You didn’t offend pastor. After the boy raped you, you were also the one punished. Was it because you reported the incident?
(Girl responds with a nod)
Tiger: What was done to the boy that raped you?
Maame Serwaa: I have no idea.
Tiger: Is he here, the boy that raped you?
(Girl nods a yes.)
Tiger: So will you go to school today?
(Girl nods yes)
Tiger: Did you go to school yesterday?
(No, girl shakes her head)
Other children were however not ready to divulge their experiences as they’ll be punished if it emerges that they’ve spoken to any of the visiting volunteers of such occurrences.
There were also instances where some of the boys were accused of practicing sodomy which led to Rev Lamina ordering them to slap each other several times amidst beating them with a stick as their punishment. One of the accused boys explained that, some of the boys have been practicing this act in the chairman’s room and they lure other kids into doing it.
The following is a transcript of an incident involving Reverend Lamina and some children in the home accused of sodomy.
Reverend Lamina: So did they have sex with you?
2nd Child: No, they planned that they were going to do it in chairman’s room.
Reverend Lamina: Which room?
2nd Child: Chairman’s room. Jonathan and Kojo were going to the place and …
Reverend Lamina: Did they go there?
2nd Child: They went there and
Yes! They were about to do it and didn’t know that I had gotten there.
Reverend Lamina: Why didn’t you… they were coming to do what?
2nd Child: They were coming to have sex and… they were saying bad things
Reverend Lamina: Why didn’t you go and see Pastor? Uh! Look, this is God’s house and not a place for Nigerians, so why did you do that to him?
1st Child: Please, I didn’t do anything to him. He told the boy and err,
Reverend Lamina: Who?
1st Child: Jonathan and this boy, they told me that
Reverend Lamina: You and who? Which boy?
1st Child: Jonathan, Kofi and this boy.
Reverend Lamina: Which Kofi? Go and call him for me.
Slap him properly. (Reverend Lamina instructs the 1st Child to slap 2nd Child, which he obliges amidst hesitations). Ask him who instructed him to have sex with another boy. (Reverend Lamina instructs the 1st Child to ask 2nd Child after the slapping).
1st Child: Who asked you to have sex (with another boy)?
2nd Child: Oh!
Reverend Lamina: Ask him properly.
1st Child: Who asked you to have sex (with another boy).
Reverend Lamina: (Turns to 1st boy.) Why didn’t you report it? (Hits him with a stick in his hand). Why didn’t you report it? (Hits boy again with the stick and instructs him to also slap 2nd boy, and then ask him why he practiced sodomy with him, boy hesitates).
Ask him why he had anal sex with you or I’ll ask someone to give you a slap for you to learn how to slap. (Pastor asks Jonathan, another young resident to slap 1st boy) Hey! Jonathan, give him one slap. (Jonathan obliges, after which Pastor again asks the 1st boy to slap the second boy who had been kneeling all this time.)
Neglect and Inhuman Treatment
In a related development, the home that was supposed to provide some comfort and relief to the disabled and needy children is gradually turning into a den of maltreatment and neglect as some of these disabled children are neglected to their own fate to the extent that some of the children even defecate on themselves and carry the mess for hours. This situation usually arises when the disabled children are detained in a “cell” for some wrong doings for a period of between a day and 4 days.
“He defecated on himself, resulting in the strong smell here, yet since morning he hasn’t been attended to. It’s almost 9pm now,” an inmate noted when he got close to a detained child.
Some of the caretakers and even Rev Lamina, the General Manager of the home, subject some of the children to inhuman treatment which include asking kids to slap each other and when it’s not done to the Reverend’s satisfaction, he’ll or ask another person to demonstrate it to you by slapping you; beating kids with big sticks; knocking kids in the head; kicking them and cell detentions as mentioned above and grounding from school for days as forms of punishment for wrong doings.
“Why didn’t you report it?” Pastor Lamina asked and hit a child accused of sodomy practicewith a stick after which he instructs the child to slap another boy and ask the second child why he also practiced sodomy with him.
“Ask him why he had an anal sex with you or I’ll ask someone to give you a slap for you to learn how to slap”, Reverend Lamina instructed and cautioned when a boy accused of sodomy hesitated and didn’t slap another boy accused of the same offence to the Reverend’s satisfaction.
“Hey! Jonathan, give him one slap”, Reverend Laminathen asked Jonathan, another young resident, to slap the first boy which Jonathan obliges to Reverend’s satisfaction. Reverend Lamina, after Jonathan’s slap asked the first child to slap the second child, who had been kneeling all this time, in the same manner Jonathan demonstrated to him.
“Come on, lie down! If you don’t lie down, I’ll beat you mercilessly with this cane, you’ll end up taking painkiller. Lie down!”, a mistress of the home instructed a child.
Reaction from Rev Lamina Lawrence
When the Rev Minister, who claimed to be the father-figure to the children in the home, was contacted and asked of his opinions on abuse of the children in orphanages, he posited that one must be with them to understand and be able to know to what level a punishment can be termed as an abuse. “But in some cases the caregiver tries to discipline the child but they do it extremely. They don’t try to handle it on a mild level. They go (to the) extreme and that is been termed as abuse when you go beyond your limit. So, in such cases, (when) somebody comes around or a visitor (comes) in or a volunteer (comes) in (and) doesn’t know our culture and the extent (to which) we discipline our children. They don’t know the culture and the limit and how we go about it, so, they will look at it as an abuse”, he opined.
He also interestingly stated against his earlier claims that the children at the Echoing Hills Village are not beaten or caned as a form of punishment for fighting or stealing or for any other reason apart from been late for school. “As I said, only the leadership (has been) given the mandate and personally I caned them. Not in terms of may be stealing or fighting or that kind of (reasons) but it’s like they need to go to school by 7 o’clock. You need to wake up by six, get ready and then go to school but (by) 7 o’clock they ‘ll be still sleeping. the cane and then cane them”, he claimed.
Lamina ironically stated in his response on what happens to a child when he steals that such child must be caned. “Ah! If someone steals, that also is a serious issue because one of our rules says we don’t steal. So, for that one too you take some canes because we don’t want you to go out and become an armed robber or to join a gang and (be) stealing”, he responded.
He, however called for caregivers of various orphanages to be trained to help them know how to handle the children in the orphanages as some of them go beyond their bounds in punishing the children which outsiders might see such actions as abuse on the children. “So, what I think is the care givers must be trained. Need extra training and must be made aware as to the extent of how to go about disciplining the kids at the orphanage, so that people outside will not see it as they are deliberately or intentionally abusing the child”, headvocated.
Oh! I see them as my own children and I’m the father-figure here, so, they are able to come to me to express their concerns with their needs. They see me as their father so they are able to relate to me like that and they are always welcomed anytime they come to me, 24/7. Whether in the night, (when) they are in need or whatever it is. (When) they have a problem they call on me. So that’s the relationship.
Echoing Hills Village
Echoing Hills Village, a facilty located at Madina-Ogbojo in Accra, was established in 1994 to provide a home and some comfort for the abandoned children, the abused children, the physically challenged and orphanswhen rev Cordell Brown of the US saw the plight of some disabled Ghanaians and realised that life is not a struggle to succeed but to survive in our Ghanaian society.