Another baby has been given a chance of life by a brave mother who opted to place him in the Helderberg Baby Saver, which offers safer abandonment options over discarding an unwanted infant in a bin or drain.
A newborn baby boy, estimated to be a day old, was the second to benefit from the Baby Saver initiative since its inception almost four years ago.
The Baby Saver is a special safe built in the wall of the Choices Crisis Pregnancy Centre in Schapenberg Road, Somerset West, where women with unwanted pregnancies can place their infants. When a baby is placed in the safe, an alarm is triggered and an appointed respondent collects the infant.
The inspiration behind Baby Saver facility is “Baby Amber”, who was found alive by a homeless man and his dog on 8 February 2014, after being abandoned on the riverside in Andries Pretorius Street.
The first baby to have benefited from the Saver is “Baby Ayabonga”, a bouncing boy placed in the specially built safe on 6 October 2015. The now 26-month-old finds himself central to the lives of a delighted adoptive mother and father who, along with two enthusiastic older sisters, have opened their hearts and home to him.
According to Debbie Wybrow, founding director of the Wandisa Adoption Agency, Ayabonga is absolutely thriving and excelling developmentally.
In the most recent incident last Friday (3 November), Sandy Immelman, founder of the Helderberg Baby Saver, recalls experiencing an initial “adrenaline rush” when she was informed that the safe’s alarm had been triggered at 13:20.
She explains it has been activated several times since Ayabonga without any baby being found there – a false alarm. Immelman somehow had a different premonition this time.
She says Secure Rite, the security provider monitoring the alarm, contacted her, as well as respondent Amanda-Lee Jones of Patch, as soon as it was triggered. “I rushed down to the Baby Saver with my heart in my throat, hoping that all would be well,” Immelman recalls.
On her arrival she found Jones holding a beautiful, healthy and well dressed little baby wrapped in a blanket.
Jones recalls the two armed response officers, who acted swiftly, already on the scene when she arrived with the key to unlock the Saver. “The baby was in seemingly good health and very content. He didn’t cry once,” she says.
She regards the newborn as “the most gorgeous little being” she wouldn’t hesitate to take home given the opportunity. “Had the mother been there, I would wrap my arms around her and applaud her for mustering up the courage to go through with this act of bravery,” she adds.
Immelman says the Baby Saver is the last safety net to prevent unsafe abandonment. She concurs with Jones: “My heart goes out to the woman who found herself so alone and desperate that she felt she had no other option – and I would like to tell her that she did the right thing by choosing to put her baby in a place she knew would be safe to put him in, and where he’d be cared for. I am sorry that systems and society have failed her, and I hope she is getting the help that she needs now.”
Immelman believes this merely serves as proof that the Baby Saver works and can save little lives.
The baby boy was transported to Helderberg Hospital by paramedics, and not only passed all health checks but weighed in at a whopping 4,5 kg.
According to Wybrow, the baby – dubbed “Baby Two” – was discharged on Tuesday afternoon and placed in temporary safe care, in a family home with parents who have been specially screened.
She implores more local families to avail themselves for offering temporary safe care, and to come forward for screening and allow the adoption agency to continue working with abandoned babies in need of loving homes – and with whom it could keep in touch.
Despite the Helderberg Baby Saver, three incidents where babies were found dumped have been reported in the Helderberg since September.
In one incident, on Friday 13 October, a baby girl believed to be three days old was discovered alive in Somerset West.
A pedestrian passing a green municipal bin on the corner of Main Road and Fagan Street responded to the distressed baby’s cries shortly after midday (“Baby found in municipal bin”, DistrictMail, 19 October).
Wybrow confirms that “Baby Suzie”, as she is known, is currently in temporary safe care where she’s being nurtured and loved.