Grabouw saver closed


Despite the continuous dumping of babies and growing concern over increased risk with lockdown pressures, a local community suffers the loss of a safer option to discard an unwanted baby.

The Grabouw Baby Saver, which offered pregnant women in crisis a means of safe abandonment and their newborns a chance at life, was closed permanently last October.

The Overberg addition situated at Lighthouse Mission Educare was similar in concept to the successful Helderberg Baby Saver, a safe shielded from the elements and electronically rigged to trigger an emergency response should a baby be placed inside it. The Grabouw Baby Saver was operated by a resident and temporary safe care mother, Angela Burgess.

It was initially launched in August 2018 after one of the babies in Burgess’ care was found abandoned in a field in Strand. It inspired her to look into the prevention of child abandonment.

However, the saver was forced to close in December 2019. Valued assistance and knowledge garnered from Sandy Immelman, founder of the Helderberg Baby Saver, saw its revival with a relaunch last July. But the reopening was short-lived and the saver was dealt its final blow.

The Grabouw Baby Saver’s permanent closure was announced on its Facebook page on 29 October.

According to Burgess her relocation to the Helderberg and finding no-one suitable to step up to the plate resulted in the saver’s “tragic” end.

“Unfortunately, I am no longer living in Grabouw, but in Somerset West, and could not find reliable responders in Grabouw to assist with the saver,” Burgess explained.

The baby saver acts as a last port of call for help or hope, enabling safe abandonment of an unwanted baby; when a baby is placed in the safe, an alarm is triggered and appointed respondents including security and emergency personnel collect the infant. The response is linked with child protection organisations such as Wandisa, which sees to all the statutory processes, including placing the baby in temporary safe care, working with the courts, placing advertisements to try to connect with the mother to facilitate support, reintegration, or adoption if no-one comes forward after a 90-day period.

Burgess said what was needed for the Grabouw Baby Saver to be effectively operational is “a fully committed team or organisation to operate it and understand all the implications that come with operations”. Another revival, she said, would only be possible with a very dedicated team on board.

When asked what alternatives there are to the saver to combat incidents of dumping or abandonment, Burgess responded: “Nothing, as our government refuses to amend the laws regarding any form of ‘legal’ relinquishment besides a mommy having to physically hand over a baby and sign documents.”

She further implored desperate mothers in need of help to approach the day hospital.

As a Helderberger, Burgess has focused her efforts on establishing another saver in the basin.

“I am looking for a venue in Lwandle to install the saver. Helderberg Baby Saver is very happy to collaborate with me on this.”

The proposed saver will operate in addition to the successful Helderberg Baby Saver and recently launched Macassar Baby Saver.

The latter was inspired by Aoife Kelly de Klerk, a former occupational therapist and devoted Christian committed to community work, after two babies were found abandoned in Macassar a few weeks apart more than two years ago. The saver, entitled Teva Moshe, is a free standing solar powered unit by Kwikspace Modular Buildings. It’s fitted with the actual safe sourced from Babysafe International and is located at 3 Musica Avenue.

The Helderberg Baby Saver was initiated seven years ago after two incidents of babies found abandoned in Somerset West. Five babies were given a chance at life thanks to the saver, located at the Choices Crisis Pregnancy Centre in Schapenberg Road, Somerset West. Helderberg Baby Saver recently welcomed a valued donation by Henri’s Restaurant & Wine Bar which allowed for the revamp of its signage and pamphlets to be printed for information distribution in among others Nomzamo, Sir Lowry’s Pass, Lwandle, Gordon’s Bay, Greenfields, Macassar and Strand communities.

“In the Helderberg area we are fortunate enough to have two baby savers in place which can make a real difference in the survival of an abandoned baby. A baby saver is a safe place to leave a baby anonymously if one is desperate, rather than dumping them in a drain, field or bathroom,” said Immelman.

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