By Vivianne Wandera
In the year 1999, a baby hatch dubbed ‘baby bin’ was opened in South Africa by a local church in response to the high number of infant babies which were being found in the area every month.
The baby bin which is run by the Door of Hope orphanage located in Johannesburg was started to save lives and give a chance to unwanted babies. Mothers can place the babies in the bin without anyone knowing who they are. The bin provides an alternative to dumping children in places which they could die due to harsh conditions and neglect.
Once the baby is placed in the bin, the mattress has a sensor which goes off immediately and a small hidden camera where someone is always watching out for children being left there. An attendant will immediately run to the bin and collect the child and take them for medical check up.
In an interview with BBC, Angela Kizobokamba who works at the orphanage said that the babies are at times healthy and others are not. ‘Some of the babies are dehydrated, malnourished, and underweight. We must nurse them back to good health most of the time.”
To date the the Door of hope has received up to 960, of which 10% of them were left in the baby bin. According to child welfare workers who spoke to BBC, they stated that the desperate social conditions in Johannesburg compounded by AIDS are the main reasons why so many young mothers choose to abandon their children whom most of the time are aged between 2 weeks to 6 months.
Even though the orphanage caters for the babies, some of them are always lucky and they get adopted by families who can provide them. None of the children can be identified to protect their identities and those of their mothers.
Ms. Kizobokamba still in an interview with BBC said that the children are usually dumped in high numbers during the Easter holidays and Christmas season. The orphanage has not thrived without any criticism with many people around the community saying that they are giving young mothers an easy way out and that is not how it’s supposed to be.
The issue of having abandoned children is a problem not only in South Africa but also here in Kenya. In 2016, The Daily Nation stated that the number of street children in Kenya could range between 250,000 and 300,000 of which 60,000 are located only in Nairobi according to an estimate by the Consortium of Street Children (CSC) an international charity.
Living in the streets is not an easy thing most especially for the girl child. Rescue center Dada Centre has been supporting the rehabilitation of street girls for over two decades. The centre has a dormitory and classrooms for the girls to get an education. They also make efforts to reunite the girls with their families where it is possible.
According to Daily Nation majority of the girls admitted at the center in 2014, almost a third of them were victims of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and some are victims of gang rape. Any child, not only girls should be subjected to such harsh living conditions no matter what the circumstances are. This could be a good time for the government or even county government tot o develop a foster home system in which the street children could be taken to in order to give them a chance in life.
Adopting a system that could help reduce the number of children in the streets could create a new wave of change and even reduce the rate of child criminals who have been on the rise in the recent past. We don’t need to live in a society that is so negligent and self-centered that even our leaders cooled afford to care less about the people who could one day grow from those streets into the world leaders of tomorrow. The rate of drug abuse and spread of HIV and teenage pregnancies which take us back to the problem of children being thrown in garbage bins and toilets.
The rate of drug abuse and spread of HIV and teenage pregnancies which take us back to the problem of children being thrown in garbage bins and toilets.
We could learn from foreign countries and how they handle such matters like having shelters for the children and foster homes and child welfare services where children are taken to and adopted by parents who take them in as their own.