Her baby was loved, perhaps, but could not stay. Her baby was just a loan, safe for only nine months and then left to fend for itself. Her baby wasn’t destined to sleep by her side or feed on her milk. Her baby was never going to have a nappy change or loving arms to be held in. Her baby began its first journey in a plastic bag, instead of a comfortable, safe car seat. Her baby was left by the roadside, in a bin, in a toilet, in a park, in a field. Her baby cried for a drink. Her baby cried for food. Her baby cried for a place in this cruel world, to be loved, to be cared for. Her baby was never meant to be. Her baby couldn’t be.
This story breaks my heart. In Johannesburg, one baby a day is abandoned and in Soweto, two babies a day are left to be found. According to this BBC article, most babies are left during holidays such as Christmas or Easter. When we are with family, sharing good food, presents and laughter- these babies are abonded to a life unknown. Many die quickly through dehydration or malnourishment. It is difficult to comprehend the kind of life that forces a parent to abandon their babies just hours after birth.
The Door of Hope was set up in 1999 to care for these babies and now receive up to 16 babies per month. Their desperate parents leave them via a metal hatch on the side of the building. It has sensors fitted inside that set off alarms and send carers to their aid.
“When that alarm rings you drop everything because you know there is a tiny baby in there fighting for his or her life,” says a carer at the Door of Hope orphanage…To date, Door of Hope has received more than 960 children – 10% of which were left in the baby bin.”
It’s a world so far from mine. It’s a world with severe social deprivation, poor health, poor education and disease. Many of the babies are given AIDS medication as soon as they have been checked over. It’s a world where a baby’s innocence is taken so quickly. It’s a world where a ‘baby bin’ has been the only positive thing in these parents’ lives. A safer place to leave their babies.
Her baby came into an uncertain world, filled with poverty, desperation and violence. Her baby was born into fear. Her baby could not be the child she may have imagined. Her baby had only the Door of Hope to hope for.