Last Monday morning, on my way to work, I found a little baby girl walking alone on a sandy farm road in the middle of the bush. She was crying and scared – dirty and only had a shirt on.
I stopped my car and called out to her – she was terrified. I got out and opened my arms and she came to me. I called out to see if there was anyone around in the bush but no one answered. She was probably about 18 months old. I put her in my car and took her with me to work. We cleaned her up and borrowed some pants from one of the labourers on our farm. She seemed well fed and was not too interested in eating anything. Our foreman told me that there was a farm compound reasonably near to where I had found the baby so we went in search of the mother.
We eventually found her picking mangoes about one and a half kilometers away. She was young and could not speak English or Afrikaans. Luckily I had our foreman with me so she translated. The baby was left in a house like this one – all alone while her mom went out to try to earn some money.
We managed to find someone to baby sit for the day, but there are no guarantees that this little one is not home alone today. Unfortunately this lady seems to be an illegal immigrant so for now, we can’t even get the baby into a nearby crèche as they need proof of residence etc. to be able to take the baby on. We are waiting to hear about another place of safety for her during the day.
These are the harsh realities of living in Africa. This little girl is one of thousands of children in similar situations. I really wish I could do more for her. I was so tempted to just take her home and keep her – but then I would be in a similar situation as I have to work and would not be able to look after her during the day. She would also not be with her mom who she needs and loves and she would lose out on learning her language and culture. If we hand over money to the mother, there is no guarantee that it will be used for the baby. I am going to help out with baby food and clothes where I can. I just hope she stays around long enough for us to help – I am scared the mom may take off in fear of being reported. If they get taken in by the authorities, they may even be worse off than they are now. It’s a tricky and very sad situation.