Activists box clever with Care Cribs
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.