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TLC Children’s Home launches Mother’s Hope Programme

The programme aims to provide a safe place for mothers and limit child abandonment.

When Maria fell pregnant with her second child, she never imagined she would face abandonment by her newfound lover. She is a single mother of a seven-year-old boy and the sole breadwinner.

When she was almost seven months pregnant, Maria could no longer meet her son’s needs. Life became so difficult for her that she could not pay her rent or buy food and had no one to turn to.

However, luck knocked at her door when one of the counsellors recommended her to TLC Children’s Home, which had started a Mother’s Hope Programme. Though it is a children’s home, they take in mothers facing abandonment.

Pipa Jarvis, the managing director who travelled to meet Maria in a rented room, offered her a place to stay.
Jarvis said: “Based on the work we have done as a children’s home, where we have cared for children who were without families, we know the longing from the child’s side and pressure from the mothers.”

She said they have met mothers who are desperate for help and that abandonment is a survival choice, not a choice made out of malice.

“So if it was just about the need for a safe place, a daily meal and emotional comfort, perhaps these were things we could do,” said Jarvis.

The programme takes in mothers having babies who need a safe place and a stable community and think they will not make it on their own with resources like clothing, shelter and food.

Jarvis said they have so far been able to absorb five mothers in the pilot project they are still working on. The programme is designed to run for three years.

According to research by the National Adoption Coalition South Africa (NACSA), over 3 500 unwanted babies are deserted annually, and it’s safe to say that child abandonment in SA is an epidemic and growing problem.

While it is illegal, there are various reasons for parents abandon their children. The Department of Social Development has identified the primary reasons for giving up a baby to include financial issues, lack of family support, unwanted pregnancies, resentment of the baby, and fear of family members’ judgement.

Activist and researcher Dee Black from the National Adoption Coalition South Africa (NACSA) says child abandonment is a criminal offence, and a person who abandons a child after birth could be charged and prosecuted. Charges could include crimes such as concealment of birth and attempted murder.

For more information about TLC and the programme, contact 011 948 7917 or info@tlc.org.za

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