Baby cots and nappy-changing tables have replaced hair styling stations and mirrors in a Bonnie Doon building that has been transformed into a serene place of safety for unwanted and abandoned babies.
Former Breath of Life house mother Elaine Brenkman officially opened the new Guardian of Hope Place of Safety at the bottom of Old Transkei Road in East London on Saturday morning, and the centre already has a full house of six tiny babies in six new white cots.
One of the tiny residents had a very sad start to life. He was abandoned under a bush two weeks ago just after he was born, and Brenkman said such babies were “tight-hold babies” that needed more love and attention than infants who were given up with love. “You can definitely see the difference between given-up babies and abandoned babies, who need more security and love.”
It is for this reason she has made it clear that mothers who want to give their babies up for whatever reason, may ring the doorbell at her safety centre at any time of the day or night and leave their babies at the gate.
“They can also leave their babies at any hospital or police station and it is completely legal.”
Brenkman, who has three adopted babies of her own under the age of three, said she opened the centre because of the immense need for such a service. “At Breath of Life we could only have six babies at a time and weekly had to send four to six babies away, so the need is huge and we will hold hands with Breath of Life to save more babies.”
When the Daily Dispatch visited the new safety centre this weekend, Brenkman and her two full-time caregivers and their six tiny residents had just been showered with gifts at a stork party attended by a group of loyal volunteers who help out at both centres.
Older babies were seated in baby chairs and on a mat. Volunteers and caregivers changed nappies, fed or lovingly rocked the infants to sleep. “We were blessed with this beautiful building by business couple Gussie and Darrel Eberhardt. They knew that I wanted to open my own home and decided to bless us with it,” said Brenkman, who lives with her K9 unit policeman husband, Dirk, and their three adopted children in the house adjoining the centre.
“Our whole aim is to give hope. Now we need East London to get on board to save more children. We need volunteers to help with bathtime or to rock babies to sleep and we also need someone who could help with garden maintenance.
“And we could do with more cot linen, nappies, Lactogen 1 and 2 and baby porridge.
“Each baby has a story to tell. Our priority is always to reunite them with their parents, but if, after 60 days, no one has come forward, we give them up for adoption.”
lFor more information, contact Brenkman on 0824874406. — firstname.lastname@example.org