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Safety for abandoned babies
Healthy Mom and Baby Clinic’s baby safe offers desperate mothers a place to safely leave their baby without fear of being identified. Photos: SUPPLIED

DESPERATE mothers often abandon their babies on rubbish tips, in drain pipes and, as has been the case in Jeffreys Bay last week, in dustbins.

Infants abandoned in this way have a very slim chance of survival and tragically, many innocent lives are lost because of the hopelessness that often accompanies an unexpected pregnancy.

Sister Lynette van Onselen, of the Healthy Mom and Baby clinic (HMBC), situated at 27 St Francis Street, Jeffreys Bay, spoke to Kouga Express about what options are available to women in the Kouga area who are facing unwanted pregnancies.

In 2009, the HMBC installed its baby safe, as a place to safely le

Sr Lynette van Onselen.

ave unwanted babies. This baby safe box is one of many across South Africa, with the first one being installed in 1999. Over the years these baby safe boxes have saved the lives of many infants, and given them a chance of being adopted into loving families, who have the means to care for them.

“It takes a lot of courage for a mother to place her baby in the safe box. Making sure your baby is safe, if you are unable to care for (him or) her, is the best thing you can do. Abandoning a baby on a rubbish tip is an act of absolute desperation and we do not want women to feel that this is their only option,” said Van Onselen.

She further explained that there have been three babies in the baby safe since its installation in 2009.

“As soon as a baby is placed inside the baby safe, the safe locks from the outside and alarms are triggered with various members of staff. If the alarm is sounded during the night, Smhart security and Private Care ambulance service assist the HMBC staff in responding to the call. There are no CCTV cameras directly pointing to the baby safe, as we want women to feel that they can place their babies in the safe without fear of being identified.”

Van Onselen said that after the initial response by HMBC personnel and other emergency staff, the baby is taken to hospital to be medically evaluated. “From the hospital, the baby will go to a temporary place of safety, in order to get them healthy and ready for permanent placement into a home.”

Sr Lynette van Onselen.

Other services provided by the HMBC include counselling for women who face unplanned pregnancies. They provide them with all the options available to them and help them through the process, whatever they decide to do.

“The important thing is not to feel as if you are going through this alone. We want to walk this road with them and provide them with whatever they need in order to mother successfully or provide them with alternative options if they decide that they are not ready to raise a child at that time.”

Many new mothers are intimidated by the task at hand, and the HMBC provides support, not only before the baby is born, but also afterwards. They truly want mothers to feel empowered, whether they decide to raise their babies themselves, or give someone else the opportunity to do so.

For more info HMBC can be contacted on 042 293 1952, email info@hmbc.co.za or office@hmbc.co.za.

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