There were a number of issues taken into account when deciding where to place the Baby Saver as the location is key:
1) As Choices deal with crisis pregnancies there is a hope that desperate mothers might approach them prior to giving birth.
The sticker on the Saver advises that they can seek help at Choices and gives a 24 hour number for Ruach Counselling.
2) The building needs to be accessible to people walking from the taxi ranks, Main Road, N2, train station, etc.
3) The Saver needs to be accessible and fairly private - but not isolated and thus risk putting the mother in danger.
4) The Saver needs to be in a location that the respondents can safely access at all hours.
5) The Saver needs to be in a place where it will not be damaged or vandalised.
6) A woman walking to Choices with a baby would not stand out - it would look normal in the environment.
The story of the Helderberg Baby Saver stems from when a Somerset West Neighbourhood Watcher, Judith Cross, was the first responder to the scene when Baby Amber was found, newly born and dumped next to the river in Somerset West, Western Cape, in early 2014. She was covered in ants and would have died fairly soon had the dog of some vagrants not sniffed her out, and they then immediately raised the alarm.
A week later another abandoned baby was found in the SW CBD and this prompted Sandy Immelman to try and help prevent dumping of babies in the area by installing a Baby Saver.
Sandy Immelman and Judith Cross approached Choices, who deal with crisis pregnancies in the Helderberg area, and got permission to build the Saver in to their building.
All of the elements required were donated (see the list of partners who have made this project possible).
Judith Cross and Sandy Davey Immelman at the launch of the Baby Saver - Amber's legacy. The Social Worker from NORSA who attended the launch shared with us the great news that Amber is doing well and has been permanently placed with a family.
The river where Baby Amber was found.
A disused baby safe was donated by Immanuel's Haven and Grant Immelman refurbished this, adding additional pressure triggers for safety:
Should someone place a baby in the Baby Saver the pressure mat triggers an alert via a panic alarm to Secure Rite who then contacts one of the Responders who will be on scene within minutes. Secure Rite will also dispatch an armed response vehicle to the scene for safety precautions. The Saver door automatically locks on the outside when closed and access is only possible inside the building.
The Responders were all given first aid training specifically for new-borns by E.M.O., who also donated First Aid kits to be kept by the Saver.
Testing the Baby Saver is really important. It is a matter of life or death actually, so regular tests are done to ensure it is always in good working order.
If a baby is found in the Saver it will immediately be taken to the local hospital by ambulance and put into the adoption/foster care system.
The Baby Saver is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year - the Saver sends regular signals that it is working, has a battery back-up plus there are regular tests and random practice runs to make sure there is zero chance of system failure.
The purpose of the Helderberg Baby Saver is simply to provide a safer alternative to dumping a baby in a bin or drain, and to make sure that the infant is taken to the hospital where it can be cared for as quickly as possible.
Raising awareness is critical as the Saver can only be used if the people who need it, know where it is and that they can safely use it. Leaflets and posters in Afrikaans, Xhosa and English are distributed wherever possible (assistance in printing costs and distribution is always needed, so if you can help with this, please email email@example.com), newspaper articles and radio interviews as well as presentations are also ongoing.
We are sometime approached by those who would like to donate items for the babies. We do not keep any of the babies – they are immediately placed into the same system as any abandoned baby would be. However, if you wish, you can drop donations at Choices, Schapenberg Road, Somerset West for their use.
Those who would like to assist with fostering and/or adoption can contact NORSA. Please note that police clearance will be required, which can take some time: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please share our information, like our Facebook page and tell people who you work with ... you never know who might need this information one day!
Thank you for helping us to honour Amber's legacy.
Raising awareness is critical as the Saver can only be used if the people who need it, know where it is and that they can safely use it.
Leaflets and posters in Afrikaans, Xhosa and English are distributed wherever possible (assistance in printing costs and distribution is always needed, so if you can help with this, please email email@example.com), newspaper articles and radio interviews as well as presentations are also ongoing.
Raising awareness with leaflets and posters in Afrikaans, Xhosa and English