Pregnancy Awareness Week began with loud cries for help, literally, in South Africa.
In Newlands East, Durban, near the place I call home, a new life was born. Far from being swathed in a warm blanket, booties and a beanie like most newborns, she was left in a storm water drain with her umbilical cord still intact.
A community member who heard her cries alerted police and paramedics, setting in motion a mammoth operation to rescue this vulnerable baby. Four hours later, and she was carried out, seemingly unscathed by the horror of it all. This video that has since gone viral proves that what happened yesterday was nothing short of a miracle.
Newborn rescued from stormwater drain in Durban
It was indeed a valiant effort by paramedics emergency workers who were determined that this tragic story would have a happy ending.
(Pictures – from Rob McKenzie of KZN EMS)
And amid the torrent of emotions that the events of yesterday unleashed, there was widespread anger, outrage and harsh words for the mother of this baby. It’s only a natural reaction. More so, from couples yearning to have a child of their own. There’s been a flood of offers to adopt this child, to donate diapers and baby clothing and simply shower her with love.
Sadly, a similar situation occurred less than a month ago in another part of Durban. In Verulam, the cries of a newborn baby were heard coming from a bin bag where he had allegedly been left by his mother.
Therein lies another cry for help that should not be ignored. Mothers – out of desperation, ignorance and possibly fear – are resorting to such acts. I’m in no way condoning their behaviour. I’m just as angry and appalled as you are. But, we need to ask ourselves – why is this happening so often? And where are the fathers? Are they not willing to share the responsibility of bringing new life into this world?
In a statement, the KZN Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo admitted that more has to be done.
“It’s a wake-up call that talks to our progammes of family planning, because the birth of this little one is as a result of an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy, resulting in the mother deciding to throw her baby into a storm water drain. It’s something that we need to do… to strengthen our family planning.
“But again, if you’ve missed your opportunity for family planning and it was not successful, still do come into our hospitals. We’ll advise and put you in touch with social workers who can help with the adoption process if the pregnancy was unplanned. It doesn’t have to end this way. This little one was very fortunate to be alive and well. Some of the babies who get abandoned do not come out alive.”
And that’s a “wake-up call” to us all…. that we really need to start talking about this more often and being pro-active rather than reactive. Are we going to go back to our lives as normal now until another crisis happens? Within our communities, we need to engage with Child Welfare authorities, social workers and the like and spread the awareness. And if we know of pregnant women who need help – let’s inform them of their options as soon as possible.
Let’s lend a hand where we can. It could be just what’s needed to save the life of another innocent child and give them a safe and happy future.