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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Mental illness and our babies. Please read this to the end, and share.




This week we received two more babies, both came to us because their mothers are mentally ill.  The first child lived on the streets of Manzini for the first 18-months of her life. We call her “Beauty” because that is what her Swazi name means, and she is beautiful. She was not fed, not bathed, not cared for and ended up in hospital before Social Welfare could rescue her and send her to a place of safety.

Two days later we received baby Mandy whose mother is also severely mentally ill and has spent the last two months sneaking in and out of a government hospital, sleeping under beds, in closets, stealing food to survive etc.   Mandy’s mother was volatile and the hospital and social worker called the police to be involved when the baby was taken for safe keeping.


If I were to guess, I would say that close to HALF of our 166 children come from a mother with some kind of mental illness.  Let me give you a few specific examples of cases with our children and how each case is so different and so sad:

  • “H” comes from a mother who was not born with psychological challenges, but she started having epileptic seizures (or “fits” as they say here) and they went untreated for most of her life, causing her to become mentally challenged by her late teen years.  “H” has no signs of epilepsy and is a bright, smart child.
  •   “M” comes from a teenage mom who was a happy healthy child until her mother died of an HIV/AIDS related illness when the girl herself was 9-years-old. M’s mother had been caring for her mother for several years and contracted HIV by being in constant contact with her mother’s blood and body fluids. The family decided not to tell her that she was HIV positive nor did they start treatment.  In 2013 she was very sick and went to the hospital only to find that she was HIV positive. She had a strange moment of happiness that she had a connection with her mother because she got the HIV from her, and then had a complete psychotic breakdown, and has never been mentally stable since. 
  • “Q“ comes from a mother who was on treatment for HIV/AIDS and possibly TB and had adverse reactions to the medication.  Anti-Retroviral Treatment  (ART)can be very hard on a person’s internal organs and even with proper nutrition and protein there can be many side effects that can affect a person’s personality. We even see that with some of our own children who are on ART and we have to be extra sensitive and supportive to them when we see them struggling.  Baby Q’s mom didn’t have anyone to support her so she would leave the baby alone for days, destroy neighborhood property and was eventually admitted to the National Psychiatric Hospital, which is where we picked up Q.
  • “M” comes from a mother who is mentally disabled and her Grandmother is also severely mentally disabled. I met them both.  We were told that it was a family where there was a lot of incest and we can see that “M” herself shows signs of the family health history and we will be challenged with her for her life.

The reason I am telling you all this is because the situation of baby abandonment and dumping is escalating here.  We need more help to care for the children and we have found an easy way for YOU (yes, you who read this blog each week, but aren’t certain if you want to get involved or how to get involved) to GET involved. And we want to make it easy for you, without asking for a donation.

The 2017 Heart for Africa Christmas ornament is our most beautiful yet. It is a beaded red bell with a handmade ceramic bead on the bottom made from authentic SwaziMUD.  The profit from every 25 ornaments sold provides everything one child needs for an entire month!  That includes food, medicine, clothing, electricity, caregivers and lots of love. Not only that, but the 110+ people who make the ornaments can feed and provide school fees for their own children.


Today I am looking for 50 people who will commit to selling 50+ ornaments to their friends, family, school, community group, church.  There are five different designs now and each one comes in a beautiful organza bag with an informational card.  We have also created the entire ornament line in a “Snowy collection”, for those people who decorate an all white Christmas tree.




Please email me at janine@heartforafrica.org or our North American Sales Director at kime@heartforafrica.org TODAY if you want to get involved.  Your friends and family will be starting their Christmas shopping soon so let’s make sure they are shopping with a purpose this year.  This could also be a great service project for you kids. 

Live from Swaziland … is it time for you to get involved?

Janine

PS Our ornaments will also be available in smaller quantities at www.khutsala.com as well, but today we are looking for Ambassadors to help us help more children.

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