“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. And He took the children in His arms, placed His hands on them and blessed them.” Mark 10: 14 – 16 (NIV)
Last Friday, I had the honour of spending some time at Door of Hope, a home for abandoned babies. It was incredibly sad and disheartening but at the same time it is a place full of love and happiness and you can’t help feeling like you’re sitting on that silver lining of an otherwise very dark cloud. Presently, there are 29 little puddings housed at Door of Hope. They range from just a few days old, to about two years old. These babies all have tragic stories; some were found in plastic bags, others were left on the side of the road, some were thrown from high rise buildings, while others still have their real moms who visit them there, but these moms can’t financially or mentally afford to keep their babies in their care. The experience left me feeling utterly grateful for my life, for my beautiful babies, for LOVE that I so often take for granted.
Door of Hope opened their doors over 10 years ago. They operate purely on donations from generous people and organisations, with lots of overseas donors. The South African government have yet to provide them with any sort of subsidy, which breaks my heart, because I’d much rather my tax contribution be funnelled through to organisations like this, than to another road upgrade that does nothing to alleviate the traffic anyway. They have dedicated staff and young volunteers from all corners of the globe, who love and care for these precious babies around the clock. Their adoption success rate is phenomenal, with 90% of their babies being adopted by foreign parents. The babies are kept on a fantastic routine of eat, sleep and play, they are happy and healthy (except for the few special needs babies who are mostly HIV infected) and they have beautifully decorated nurseries and lots of toys to keep them busy. Their caregivers spend lots of time just holding and cuddling them, and it’s easy to sense that it is a place of love and hope.
While I bottle fed and cajoled with Njabulo, a 6 month old baby boy who tugged immediately at my heart strings, I wondered which cruel mother would ever have been able to give up such a gorgeous little thing. But the truth is, these babies are victims of grave and very unfortunate circumstances. I can only imagine how desperate, how completely hopeless a mother must feel to have the strength to dispose of this baby whom she carried for 9 months. What terror and almost insanity one must experience to have the will to commit such a dastardly deed. I can, in no way, judge these mothers. I will never know the trauma that she must have endured, and probably still endures to this day, at having to give up her baby. I will never know the levels of desperation that she felt, but I do know that the mind is a powerful thing and in the midst of anxiety and depression, it is possible to make yourself believe that wrapping your baby in a plastic bag is a rational thing to do, rather than letting them live through a life of hardship and struggle. Mothers who were raped, mothers who are uneducated so they don’t know they have other options, mothers who can barely afford to feed themselves, let alone a small baby. So I can’t judge.
Door of Hope encourages mothers who feel this way, to rather leave their children in their legal care. There is a hole in the wall, lined with a soft mattress, and a weight sensor that immediately sounds the alarm, when a baby has been placed on it; the mother who left her baby remains anonymous (sad face!!!!). Or the mother can legally sign over her baby to Door of Hope and the little one is placed on the adoption list.
I cried when I left that place, I cried for those beautiful babies who wait for loving families to take them in, I cried for the volunteers who take time out of their lives to give back to the world in a positive way, I cried for the wonderful families who adopt these babies, I cried for my own children who are such a blessing and who thankfully will never have to endure that feeling of being unwanted or unloved.
I cried for myself… how wrapped up I am in my own little world, with ALL my problems. How I walk around with my head hung low, moaning about traffic and my babies who don’t sleep through the night and my husband who doesn’t pack the dishes away even though he promises to, and my helper who doesn’t clean the bathroom tiles properly and my job that demands so much from me. This is how wrapped up I am in my own problems – my problems that are minute and silly and stupid – that I fail to understand the depth of the problems other people are facing. HOW can I compare having debt that I can’t shake, to a baby who will most likely never know his birth mother? HOW can I compare a speeding fine, to a mother who has to give up her baby because she can’t afford to keep her? HOW can I compare having to eat peanut butter sandwiches for lunch for the second day in a row, to a little baby who is found on the side of the road, starving and dying?
So today, love your family for just being THERE. Look at your “problems” and have a good long think about how bad it REALLY is. Give something back. Volunteer if you can, donate what you can, pray whenever you can, for whoever you can. You see, the sooner we realise that life is bigger than just our “problems,” the sooner we really start to live.
“If you give ,you will get. Your gift will return to you in full and overflowing measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use to give – large or small – will be used to measure what is given back to you.” Luke 6:38 NIV