The rate of abandoned babies in Kwazulu-Natal is on the rise as many cases have been reported all over the province.

Recently, a baby was found dead in Umbilo, Glenwood on Bulwer and Alan Paton Road. The baby was dumped in a rubbish bin and upon arrival of emergency personel, the baby had died. In another incident, a baby was miraculously rescued alive from inside a storm water drain in Newlands East, Durban, on Monday, 11 February. KZN Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo said more aggressive promotion of family planning methods like contraceptives and condoms is needed in order to prevent the abandonment of babies and illegal termination of pregnancy. Instead of dumping your baby or killing them, rather take them to abandonment centres, nearest churches or adoptions homes.

Choice for Life Centre, in Amanzimtoti is one of the centres in the province that focuses on free counselling to women. The centre has been in operation for over 28 years and is proactive with high social justice values. The centre offers help to those who are facing crisis pregnancies, destitute moms in aim to alleviate the abandonment of babies. Zoe Bridge Centre manager of Choice for Life said, “We offer alternatives to abortion, and facilitate in adoptions, foster care and family unification and pregnancy tests and all our services are free.”

Bridge said they decided to go upstream and address the root of the problem and for a couple of years now they have run a sexual integrity programme at their local high school, teaching learners about changing their behaviour and to make healthy choices regarding their sexuality.
She said the programme seeks to empower teenagers with the motivation to be sexually responsible and equips them to make better choices with their future dreams in mind.

“Through our school programme we have managed to reach 16 000 students this year. The high schools in our area that have taken part in our programmes are Dr Nembula, Sybonga, Zamgahle, KwaMakutu, Josephine School of Sport, Dongana Primary School, Strelizia and Vikingozi. The programme runs over a nine week period and deals with pregnancy, foetal development, sexually transmitted infections, HIV and Aids, self-esteem, good touch and bad touch and teaching love, sex and boundaries. We also get involved with schools by going into the schools and teaching in their life orientation lesson,” said Bridge.

She said the learners are taught to respect themselves and make decisions and do not succumb to peer pressure.

“Over the past year, 3800 babies have been abandoned in SA. Bringing this closer to home in the past 12 months in Amanzimtoti, nine babies have been abandoned of which four survived. Despite this high number of abandonment, we discovered that there are no government structures or social programs in place to counter baby dumpings. So we decided to partner with Amanzimtoti Child Welfare and SAPS and our local magistrate and Baby Safe International,” she said.

For more information on Choices for Life you can contact the centre on 031 903 7359 orc Zoe on 082 667 9513 or by emailing manager@choiceforlife.co.za