Philisa Abafazi Bethu has taken another step in protecting the rights of women and children in Lavender Hill and the surrounding areas.
The organisation extended its services by launching their Babe Saver on Saturday October 13 at founder Lucinda Evans’ home in Hilary Avenue.
Almost to the day three years ago, a baby was abandoned in front of Ms Evans’ home wrapped in a pink blanket and plastic bag with the umbilical cord still attached – this was the third time a baby had been left at the NGO (“Abandoned baby sparks caring idea”, Southern Mail, November 5, 2015).
In 2015 Ms Evans’ home doubled up as the NGO’s 24-hour emergency safe house that assisted women and children who have suffered abuse.
At the time Ms Evans spoke to Southern Mail about an idea to have a baby safe installed at her home to save the lives of unwanted babies.
Now other organisations and companies have come forward to turn Ms Evans’ baby safe vision into reality.
Project Life, WCSS security, LighTec and FormFunc came on board to build the Babe Saver and to install the necessary alarms, lighting and padding. They also fixed up a space that will be used as a baby room, where the infants will be cared after being placed in the saver.
The baby saver is an easy to use invention built into a wall. Mothers can place the baby into the incubated saver and close the door, which automatically locks.
This will trigger an alarm and five responders will be notified. The first person to respond will have access to a baby room on the premises to get the baby stabilised and to contact emergency services. After hospitalisation the baby will be placed into foster care or in the adoption process as per the law.
Ms Evans said the idea is American-based but to have one shipped from the USA would have cost too much.
“We were then approached by Project Life who built the box and donated it to us. We then had two incidents in Capricorn where foetuses were found dumped. We realised that there is a need for this service in the community and we wanted to get it up and running as soon as possible because we did not want another baby to end up dumped and killed,” said Ms Evans.
She said as their organisation advocated for women and children, this was a natural extension of their services as it protects the life of the mother as well as the child.
“It is illegal in this country to surrender your child but this means that babies end up being dumped and murdered,” she said.
The organisation is also looking to advocate for laws that make women free to surrender their babies.
“The other pressing matter is that we need pregnancy emergency centres for women who are victims of domestic violence or are destitute. There is a big need for it so we are looking at this in future,” said Ms Evans.
The other extension would be to have emergency safety parents attached to the baby saver.
“Social services will do their bit to secure the child but we are looking at ways to keep the baby in the community with these safety parents. So we are asking families that want to be part of the project to contact us so that they can be vetted and screened to come on board,” said Ms Evans.
After the last article, the organisation received a backlash from some community members who said the Babe Saver would mean mothers do not take responsibility for their children and promotes sex.
Nadia Arries from the area said: “It would make it too easy for women to just give up on their children. People need to take responsibility. If they do the deed they must be able to live with the consequences,” said Ms Arries.
Ms Evans said: “I’ve noted the backlash but my main focus is on the protection of women and children. Look at how many children have been neglected, abandoned, raped and abducted and I hear a lot of times people say ‘not even a dog throws away her children’ but we have to think about what that woman is going through.
“What if that woman had been raped by her father or uncle or mother’s boyfriend and she doesn’t want this child? Where is that child going to end up and how is her life going to end up? If she puts the child in the baby saver at least she won’t kill the child by putting it in a bin or dumpsite. There is hope for that child but also hope for the mother,”said Ms Evans.
Sandy Immelman from the Heldeberg baby saver, who recommended the donation of the babe saver to Philisa Abafazi Bethu, wished the organisation well.
“Everything of the best going forwards – may you save many little lives and assist many more women in need, and may your dreams of developing a safe place for women in crisis pregnancies become a reality. Now newborns in your community and surrounds have a safer option than a dustbin or rubbish heap,” said Ms Immelman.
The Helderberg baby saver has rescued four babies since their launch in 2014.
Philisa Abafazi Bethu is in need of signage, painting, paving, sterile scissors, newborn and premature clothing and nappies, a carry-cot, a baby wrap and a baby-changing table station.
For more information, contact Lucinda on 073 424 4665 or 021 802 4030.