First Scientific Conference on Orphan Care 4-5 November 2020
"We call on researchers and specialists to carry out academic research and field studies, which establish the concept of comprehensive quality in sponsorship and care systems for orphans".
"We emphasize on the need to hold workshops, following this conference to study, develop and activate the outcome of the conference".
"The recommendations of the Conference must be adopted by various organizations and stakeholders".
With these words, the scientific conference on orphan care concluded its first edition under the theme "Past experiences and Development Prospects", which took place over two days 4 – 5 November 2020, gathering over 1453 participants from 78 countries around the world, organized by Orphans Care Federation and in partnership with many humanitarian organizations and academic institutions in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and America.
Speakers at the opening session stressed the need to work more to meet the needs of orphans, alleviate their suffering, and empower their families, as Mr. Walid Al-Saif - Director General of the Kuwaiti Sheikh Abdullah Al-Nouri Charity Society - called on donors to assume their responsibilities in meeting the needs of orphans and bridging the gap between the amount of donations and the large amount of needs; Mr. Salah Al-Jarallah - Chairman of the Orphans Care Federation – highlighted on the faith and values derived from the divine religions and the principles of humanitarian work to provide the best for orphans. Dr. Hany Elbanna - President of the World Humanitarian Action Forum stressed on the importance of scientific research in the development of humanitarian work. Dr. Ibrahim Altan - Director General of the Turkish Red Crescent - also referred to the importance of change in our concepts when dealing with orphan issues, and Mr. Abdul Rahman Al-Mutawa - Deputy Director General of Projects at the International Islamic Charitable Organization Kuwait - focused on the role of the media in educating the community about orphan issues.
Why the scientific conference and how did the idea start?
Since its inception five years ago, Orphan Care Federation has sought to provide specialized training and research programs in the care of orphans, involving experts and specialists, noting that the availability of research concerning orphans around the world is rare, so the Federation decided to take the lead in holding an academic scientific conference specialized in the care of orphans and empowering their families.
Did the conference cover most of the topics that orphans need?
We have tried hard to cover most of the general topics needed by the orphan care sector. The topics spread over 12 sessions covering the following: current orphan care system, its development and ability to withstand the successive challenges, orphan health, orphan education, orphan care priorities, children of unknown parentage, institutional care, empowerment, concept of foster care, orphans in conflict zones, ways to invest religious capital to protect children in conflict zones, violence against orphans, governance and development of organizations working with orphans, The Future of Orphans' Care: What’s Next?, researchers went through different practices and field research carried out in their respective countries aiming to exchange experiences among organizations both locally and internationally.
We are sure that the problems of the orphan care sector are great and events are accelerating due to the global circumstances and changes, so this was the first edition of the conference and we are currently working on preparing for the second edition of the conference with new topics and research.
Obstacles and challenges
It is no secret the impact of COVID-19 pandemic and how it paralyzed the entire world for months and still continues to affect us, and to be living with the reality that we are going through we held our conference online and our message to the participants was "The virtual world brings us together". As a proactive plan, we video recorded participants' presentations in anticipation of any emergency, some been used during the conference.
Opinions and impressions
Participants praised the importance of the topics raised, and that the conference provided them with the opportunity to meet researchers and experts to provide a better life for orphans, better care for them and learn about different experiences.
Researchers and participants recommended that this conference be repeated, turning it into a periodic development event, a space dedicated to sharing practical experiences, guiding ideas, and future visions. They stressed on the need to hold executive workshops, following this conference, in order to study and develop ways to activate the outcome of the conference, disseminate them, and work on applying such recommendations among various organizations and partners of interest, work and service.
What did the scientific conference come up with and how would it move from theory to application?
The conference provided practical and knowledge-rich outputs and recommendations that help organizations develop their work and start with a new vision in providing care for the orphan and his family, and offered donors and implementers ways, means and ideas to help them develop their work and the need to unite efforts to provide and create better opportunities to care for orphans and empower their families.
As the organizer of the conference, we must follow the impact measurement of organizations that participated in the conference, and vice-versa participating organizations must begin practical steps to apply the experiences and ideas that have been put forward so that we would move a step forward from theory to practice.