TLC turns abandoned boy into shining star
Johannesburg - Third-year law student, Lions rugby sevens player, varsity cup rugby, coach and mentor are seldom accolades associated with a 22-year-old, let alone one who was found abandoned in a public toilet in Soweto when he was 2 weeks old.
But Joshua Jarvis, thanks to early retrieval and a safe environment at The Love of Christ ministries (TLC), is today a strapping young man with a successful past and a promising future.
“I have been very fortunate in my life. My 18 brothers and sisters too – we aren’t a statistic and were given a chance at life,” said Joshua.
He was adopted by Thea Jarvis of TLC, after he spent his first year at the home along with his “twin brother”, another abandoned baby named Reuel who is now studying at Edinburgh University.
Thea adopted a total of 19 babies and has five of her own children.
“A nurse found me and took me to Baragwanath Hospital. And soon after that Thea brought me to TLC,” said Joshua.
Pippa Jarvis, Joshua’s sister, said he had always had a temper but being part of a family helped him to channel it.
“Josh has a controlled rage that he has used to his advantage to prove to the world that he could do things and it has helped him achieve. He puts every ounce of his energies into winning – he was named Speedy when he was a boy. That rage could have been a curse in any other situation.”
Joshua discovered a passion for rugby in his teens and nurtured it at St David’s Marist brothers Inanda. Today, as a third-year student at Wits, he still coaches at the school and plays for Wits.
Pippa believes children need to belong to a family rather than live in an institution.
“It is very important for the children to be raised with an understanding of what it is to mean something, to be brought up with values like loyalty, honour and integrity. If Joshua had been raised in an environment that wasn’t nurturing, that anger could have been dangerous.”
Joshua was home-schooled for three years early on and then attended a string of schools before settling at St David’s. He hopes to do his honours in politics next year and ultimately make his mark in the business world.
Joshua and Reuel were the first two babies Thea adopted when she started TLC 23 years ago. Pippa said it was a pity that few South Africans adopted children, saying Joshua had been such a blessing.
“Each and every child that comes through TLC is a miracle. Josh has treasured life and sees it as a blessing.”
In the 23 years that TLC has opened its doors to abandoned and adoptive babies, the organisation has successfully homed more than 800 children who started life among the abandoned children statistics.
Pippa and Thea Jarvis head up the safe haven and, despite working closely with the authorities, said they had no official numbers and that officials were overwhelmed by the problem.
Ninety percent of the newborns they receive are babies found abandoned in the veld, in dustbins, pit latrines and public toilets.
A further 5 percent are babies whose adoptions have been signed off by the mother and the remaining 5 percent are children removed from dangerous circumstances. According to Pippa, 95 percent of the babies are newborns who spend their first few months in the cosy “Nest”.
Pippa said the trend had changed from rescuing babies from risky situations like dustbins and toilets to a marked increase in babies being left in places where the bundle was more likely to be found. This includes areas close to police stations, “hole in the wall” care homes, and near hospitals.
“Their first instinct is that a hospital will be able to help and we get most of our calls from here. The police stations often send us night referrals as people aren’t prepared to drive,” she said.
Pippa believes there are no real statistics for the number of babies rescued, or those found dead.
“The police are so overwhelmed that an abandoned child is not a vital case.”
Despite the legalisation of abortion, the number of abandoned babies remains steady and she has seen an increase in premature babies born to underage girls unable to carry to full term.
Most of the rescued babies are brought to the Nest within days or hours of being found. Pippa said early intervention and fast collection could have a big impact on their personality.
“You can see how intervention in the first few days, even moments, can help the children with anxieties that are triggered later in life,” she said.