Ac­tivists box clever with Care Cribs

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - SHEREE BEGA

IT’S A sturdy card­board box that dou­bles as a sleep­ing crib for as long as eight months of a baby’s life – and a group of child pro­tec­tion ac­tivists hope it can help save South Africa’s ba­bies from be­ing aban­doned.

To mark Man­dela Day, the Na­tional Adop­tion Coali­tion of South Africa is launch­ing its new Care Crib for vul­ner­a­ble moth­ers, many of whom are teenagers.

“We de­vel­oped the Care Crib in re­sponse to re­search con­ducted on child aban­don­ment that found that moth­ers who choose to aban­don their ba­bies have of­ten not bonded with their child in utero,” said ac­tivist Dee Blackie.

“They don’t see the child as a per­son, but rather as a rea­son for their suf­fer­ing. They are of­ten vic­tims of gen­der abuse, ex­treme poverty and have lit­tle to no sup­port at this dif­fi­cult time.”

Most aban­doned ba­bies are left at birth, of­ten in ex­tremely un­safe spaces such as toi­lets, la­trines and the open veld.

“We’re hop­ing that the Care Crib goes some way to help­ing women ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a cri­sis preg­nancy to con­nect with the baby grow­ing in­side their womb. Even if they de­cide that they can­not look af­ter their child, the moth­ers at least have the tools and in­for­ma­tion they need to place their child safely in our child pro­tec­tion sys­tem, where they can be taken care of,” she said.

“The cribs will be filled with all of the ne­ces­si­ties that a mother needs in the first few weeks af­ter the birth of her baby. They will be dis­trib­uted by our part­ners to moth­ers in need, as part of our choose-to­care cri­sis preg­nancy sup­port pro­gramme.”

The pro­gramme has helped more than 1 245 women ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a cri­sis preg­nancy since then – more than 100 ev­ery month across South Africa.

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