A new space for Zoe Project

Anthea Engelbrecht with her daughter Skye, is pictured with Tracey Aitken (sitting), Ellen Solomons and George Solomons at the launch of the new Zoe Project centre.

To nurture, educate and empower – these are the things the Zoe Project strives to do for new mothers.

The NPO was started 16 years ago at the Retreat Midwife and Obstetric Unit (MOU), by Tracey Aitken, a teacher turned business owner and counsellor.

It all began with a weekly educational talk Tracey facilitated at the MOU in 1998.

The group eventually started making mother and baby packs or layettes with everything needed during and after delivery. Since then the project has been rolled out at Hanover Park MOU and will hopefully be implemented at several other government health centres.

Over the years, the NPO has evolved, bringing in trained volunteers as doulas – or birthing companions; providing counselling, drug support groups, skills development and antenatal classes. They also assist, support and encourage the staff who provide these services to the
women.

They counsel and provide support groups for all women who have been raped, are addicted to drugs, in prison or wish to have their babies adopted.

These services had been provided at the MOU located at the Retreat Community Health Centre (CHC) but space was running a bit low for the ever-growing organisation so the Rotary Club of Newlands and Breadline Africa stepped in to help.

The Rotary club donated three containers and Breadline Africa did the conversion and installation of the containers.

The containers were officially handed over on Wednesday November 15.

They will be used for classes and to counsel over 300 women a month.

Ms Aitkens, who still does educational talks and counselling at the MOUs, said the containers will go a long way to help the organisation which she started when she saw the need of the mothers who were being admitted to the facility.

The name Zoe came from the first newborn that was helped by the organisation.

“I counselled a pregnant young woman who wanted an abortion. She was in an abusive relationship and had no support. I helped her and she eventually ended up having the baby but put the little girl up for adoption. She called the girl Zoe,” she said.

A while later she found out Zoe means life in Greek and affectionately named the NPO the Zoe project.

To this day Ms Aitkens is in contact with the woman.

“I want to thank everyone
who has donated to the Zoe project. We are able to enrich the lives of many women through these donations,” said Ms
Aitken.

If you are willing to volunteer your services at the Zoe Project or donate, contact Ms Aitken on 073 174 1992 email to thezoeproject@gmail.com or www.thezoeproject.co.za