Baby Saver gears up to care for abandoned children
For those who celebrate Advent, homes are filled with decorations, discussions of menus and, for children, the countdown to the moment of unwrapping a gift.
But for some children it could also be a time of trauma.
Lucinda Evans, who runs a non-governmental organisation that focuses on the protection of women and children, makes extra preparations for the day and a few afterwards, amid taking care of her own family.
While Evans is no stranger to many children in Lavender Hill, as most could have participated in her programmes, children are brought to her doorstep for help every year.
“A few years ago, children who were abandoned by parents or got lost at the beach while out with families were brought to my home. Some of the children did not have the name tags that they are usually given, so while authorities would work on finding their parents, my family and I would end up having to look after the children for a few hours or overnight,” she said.
Evans has already stocked up on what the lost children could need - from nappies to food and clothes.
“We are always on standby. We don’t get time to be alone and celebrate as a family,” Evans said.
Apart from preparing for the “lost beach children”, Evans and her family have been having erratic sleep over the past eight years, as no day is the same in their lives.
After establishing the NGO, “Philisa Abafazi”, in 2008, the demand for services to equip women and children who have been victims of domestic violence grew to a point where she had to rethink her strategy.
“I had just resigned from full-time employment when I witnessed a woman being beaten by a partner on my street.
“When I tried to speak to her, she told me to mind my business. That’s when I thought about hundreds of others who might be living in situations where family composition was violent and children were also exposed,” Evans explained.
For eight years, the project operated from her house, before moving to a shipping container on the grounds of the local high school.
For five years she operated without a social workers, and now one works on a part-time basis.
“It was a rainy day - October 21, 2016 - the wind was howling and the dogs were barking wildly. My husband went outside to check what was the matter when he found a kid who told him that 'die pakkie huil' (the packet is crying). He went over to have a look, and inside the plastic bag was a newborn baby,” Evans said.
Last year, on her return from an errand, she found a baby girl crawling on her stoep.
And the Evans couple have taken in and cared for other babies who were left on their doorstep before they were handed over to the authorities.
But she decided to establish a Baby Saver in September this year - a facility where mothers who, for some reason, cannot look after their babies can drop them safely.
“We’ve had false alarms - I suspect from children who are curious to find out what this huge box is about. But we’ve had plenty of drills, and so when one is finally dropped, our response time will be very quick,” she added.
Until then, it’s preparations to welcome and soothe those whose day on the beach will lead them to a strange house but warm faces.