It all started in July 2012, when Amy Westerman gave birth to her first child, a beautiful little girl named Erin Grace. While Amy was on six months maternity leave, she decided to donate baby clothes and toiletries she wasn’t using. She wondered who could put them to best use as none of her friends or family were expecting.
Not knowing what else to do, she would drive to the Spar behind her house, find out which car guards had babies at home, and donate the items that she had loaded in the boot of her car. But she wanted to make an even bigger impact.
And so, her baby girl, Erin Grace, became the inspiration behind this bountiful charity and registered NPO, The Grace Factory. Having her second baby prematurely in 2015 motivated her to start making maternity packs for premature babies as well.
Through it, The Grace Factory has brought a ray of hope to over 10 000 anxious new mothers and babies, and assisted more than 80 children’s homes so far, by providing them with clothes, blankets, toiletries, nappies, and so many other basic necessities they wouldn’t have had otherwise.
For every one child found alive, two are found dead
News24 recently reported, based on statistics gathered by a recent Medical Research Council study, while around 3 500 children survive abandonment every year, estimates indicate that for every one child found alive, two are found dead.
The study highlighted a few other key factors, painting a rather bleak picture of South Africa:
- Most reports of abandonments came from Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, with most cases occurring during the December/January holiday period.
- 65% of abandoned children are newborns, and up to 90% are under the age of one.
- Further, as a result, a child born in South Africa is at the highest risk of being killed during their first six days of life.
It’s difficult to go over these statistics and disheartening to read story after story of the many abandoned newborns in the news, because new moms felt they didn’t have the means to take care of their babies.
Motivated by the heartbreaking situation in SA, the Grace Factory launched their maternity packs project in 2013 on Nelson Mandela Day, and with branches across Gauteng, Cape Town and the Vaal Triangle, run by a dedicated group of volunteers. Here’s how you can get involved in the project come 18 July.
Here’s how you can get involved in the Grace Factory this Mandela Day
To help make up the maternity packs you can gather up the following much-needed items and drop them off at your closest branch (click here for a list of branches):
- New or pre-loved (gently used) baby clothes, vests and socks
- New or pre-loved (gently used) baby blankets
- Baby beanies and booties
- Nappies (size 1 – size 5)
- Bum cream
- Aqueous cream
- Baby soap
- Maternity pads
- Breast pads
Cash donations are accepted as well.
Liani Fourie, mom and volunteer in Cape Town, told Parent24, “We do this for the love for our communities. We do this because we cannot let these moms start this journey with nothing. We do this to be the change that we want to see in the world.”
So how will you make a change this Mandela Day?