Door of Hope continues to give hope to abandoned babies

2018-12-23 10:59
Baby. (file)

Baby. (file)

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Since its inception in July 1999, Door of Hope South Africa has continued to provide safe spaces for abandoned babies.

The organisation has taken care of 1 647 abandoned babies in almost two decades and about 683 babies were adopted.

Pastor Cheryl Allen started the ground-breaking initiative, which involves a metal "babybox". Allen was affiliated to the Berea Baptist Church at the time.

Explaining the concept to News24, Door of Hope's operations director Nadene Grabham said Allen got together with the elders of the church after reports in the media about abandoned babies in the CBD and surrounding areas.

"They came up with the idea of building a metal box in the church wall where mommies could safely place unwanted babies."

Grabham says when she went to her very first babybox symposium in Japan in March, it was evident that their "concept has reached all the corners of the earth". 

She spoke about some of the unusual places where babies were abandoned, including toilets, train stations, rubbish bins, open fields, pavements, staircases in buildings and taxis. 

"We have had many sad stories. Very few stayed sad. The majority have turned into good stories.

"For whatever reason you decide that you do not want the baby, don't decide to take the baby's life. Rather give that baby a chance in life," she says. 

There are at least 28 babyboxes in South Africa and Grabham has urged mothers to make use of these if they no longer wanted their babies.

"You may regret later in life, [that you gave] the baby away, but this regret will not nearly be as big and as awful as the regret you will have if you have left your baby somewhere to die," she warned.

"A baby is a gift from God, whether it be a gift to the birth mother or eventually a gift for an adoptive family. Nevertheless, it is a gift, it is life, it is our future."

The centre has a volunteer programme but its rules are very strict. The rules include the following:

  • volunteers should be older than 20;
  • police clearance and a sexual offenders clearance certificates should be provided; and
  • one full shift per week for a minimum of six months is required to avoid attachments and emotional development.

Volunteers should also preferably have some experience in child care/ medical care and first aid.

"We do send our staff on course throughout the years. Love and care for babies is a very big requirement. 

"We also rely on international volunteers who come work for us from three months up to three years."

 Visitors have described the shelter as a "warm, comfortable loving home environment". 

"You get so attached to the babies [and] it is sad to see them go, but then you are also so happy because they have their own forever family which is why we do what we do," Grabham says.  

Like any other centre, Door of Hope also requires funding or donations. The shelter has a monthly needs list that can be emailed to people. 

"Babies that come to us are attempted failed abortions, sometimes these babies weigh just over 800g. Mommies must not use the illegal abortionists that advertise all over the place. They are not quick and pain free.  

"There are many pregnancy crisis centres all over South Africa that can help pregnant moms," she advised.

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