Center offers hope for abandoned babies in South Africa

Author: 
AP
Fri, 2017-02-24
ID: 
1487880530078546800

JOHANNESBURG: Outside an old house in a battered Johannesburg neighborhood, a hatch door slams shut and an alarm signals the arrival of an abandoned baby. A new infant is joining the ranks of toddlers being raised in the center.
In this periodic ritual, Francinah Phago, manager of the Door of Hope sanctuary in Berea, washes her hands and prepares to receive another baby deposited in the small cubicle by a parent or someone else who does not want to be identified. The new arrival is fed and washed and documents for the baby are prepared.
The Door of Hope was started in South Africa 17 years ago to provide a safe place for babies abandoned by their mothers. Sixty-four babies were taken in by the center in 2016 and 28 adopted. The rest are cared for and eventually go to orphanages, said the organization, which receives funding from the government’s social welfare department and private donations. Door of Hope has taken in more than 1,500 infants over nearly two decades, 12 percent of whom were left in the wall hatch at the house.
The “baby bin” was started by South African Baptist pastor Cheryl Allen, and now her son, Richard, is chief executive at Door of Hope. Most of the abandoned babies do not come through the hatch, but are brought in by police and hospitals where mothers give birth and then slip away without the child, he said. Some babies suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome and require special care.
Similar “baby bin” centers in Europe and Asia have been criticized on the grounds that they encourage parents to give up the responsibility of child care and children will not know their biological parents. Defenders say it is better than the possibility of late abortions or the dumping of children in unsafe places.
Priscilla Rastela, a 33-year-old worker at the sanctuary, said she sobbed the first time she saw a baby arrive. The infant was left with a note saying “I love you my child,” Ratsela said.
Georgina Smith, 19, was one of the first babies left at Door of Hope in 1999 and eventually was adopted by an American family. She is now a music student at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. Last year she returned to South Africa to work as a volunteer at Door of Hope. She said that she appreciated seeing the loving care given by the staff, who are called aunties, because she imagines they gave her that much love, when she herself was an abandoned baby.
“It kind of touches my heart to know that the aunties love those children so much,” said Smith. “I know that the aunties who were working there when I was there loved me that much.”

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S. Africa struggles to quell anti-immigrant violence

Author: 
AFP
Fri, 2017-02-24
ID: 
1487880530028546500

JOHANNESBURG: The South African government on Thursday called for calm after a wave of xenophobic violence in which dozens of shops and houses owned by immigrants have been torched and looted.
Attacks against foreigners and foreign-run businesses have erupted regularly in recent years in South Africa, fueled by the country’s high unemployment levels and dire poverty.
In the last week, more than 20 shops have been targeted in Atteridgeville, outside Pretoria, while residents in Rosettenville, south of Johannesburg, attacked at least 12 houses. Many locals have alleged that their targets were brothels and drug dens being run by migrants from elsewhere in Africa, including Nigeria and Zimbabwe. A march protesting against migrants is due to be held in Pretoria on Friday, raising fears of violence in the city center.
“I wish to appeal to all South Africans to desist from rhetoric or actions that are xenophobic,” Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba told a press conference.
“There are renewed incidents of violence against foreign nationals in Rosettenville and Pretoria West,” he admitted, blaming a lack of jobs and alleged “drug peddling and prostitution” involving foreigners.
Nigeria this week called for the African Union to step in to stop “xenophobic attacks” on its citizens in South Africa, claiming 20 Nigerians were killed last year.
South African authorities dismiss such numbers, saying many violent deaths in the country are due to criminal activity rather than anti-immigrant sentiment.
The UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) has said it was “very concerned” about the march on Friday.
“We condemn the attacks, looting and burning of property owned by foreign nationals and call on citizens to refrain from… taking the law into their own hands,” it said.
“There is no evidence that foreign nationals are responsible for the rise in crime and unemployment.”
Gigaba said that South African authorities were in talks with organizers of Friday’s march, and that the police would ensure there was no violence.
The Right2Know civil action group and other campaigns have called for the event to be canceled.
In 2008, South Africa experienced its worst bout of xenophobic violence, which left 62 people dead.
In 2015, at least seven people died in similar unrest in Johannesburg and Durban as African immigrants were hunted down and attacked by gangs.
On Wednesday, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said that 35 percent of the labor force was unemployed or has given up looking for work.

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Jordan closes schools near border due to fighting in Syria

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Mexico’s Peso Extends Gains to more Than 1.5 Pct to Reach 19.61/dlr, Strongest Level Since the Day After U.s. President Trump’s

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Giant Leviathan Gas Field Gets $3.75B Development Investment

The partners in the giant Leviathan natural gas field offshore Israel ratified on Thursday the final investment decision for the first phase of development which entails gross capital investment of US$3.75 billion. Houston-based Noble Energy – which operates Leviathan with a 39.66-percent working interest – said today that it had sanctioned the first phase of the project, targeting first gas sales for the end of 2019. The initial development of the Leviathan field, which contains 22 trillion cubic feet of gross recoverable natural gas…