April 18, 2017
People often ask us about the process of receiving children to our care. Most of the time, government social workers contact us about specific children in need of placement. Some children are abandoned in fields, on street corners, or at shebeens in informal settlements. Others are left at police stations or hospitals. Because there are 3 to 5 million children currently orphaned in South Africa, some languish in desperate or institutional settings for lengthy periods before they are rescued.
We recently found out about Philani (name changed to protect his privacy), a six year old boy who was abandoned THREE YEARS AGO at a local hospital. He arrived there in 2014 because of complications from Hemophilia. He also presented with a skull fracture and the medical staff was very concerned about the incredible neglect this little boy had been living in. For the next three years, he lived mostly in this hospital bed without visits, interest, or interaction from family members.
He has remained at the hospital, not because he is sick, but because there is no place or person to discharge him to. He has lived most of every day in a metal cot (shown here)- without toys, stimulation, or someone to watch out for him. Not surprisingly, he is severely delayed. His motor skills, social skills, and personal functions are developmentally around 15 months of age. His verbal skills are on the level of a 9 month old. This sweet boy is friendly when taken out of his cot and longs to run and play.
As soon as we heard about his case, our team visited him and realized that we are well equipped to offer Philani unconditional love, dignity, and the very best FAMILY care. When we told the hospital social worker that we would accept him to Acres of Love, she immediately became very emotional and told us that we are saving this boy’s life. We are currently advocating for his release while getting ready for him to arrive. We are all anxious to complete the paperwork process to welcome him HOME.
Instead of waiting until Philani arrives at our Forever Home to start caring for his needs, we have come to him. One of our amazing assistant House Parents is with him each and every day in his hospital ward. The first time she visited, she bathed Philani and applied lotion to his cracked, dry skin. We sang to him and read him stories.
Each day we show up to the hospital. We offer him love and care. We want him to feel confident that his needs will be cared for, and we don’t want him to be afraid. One of our teens heard about Philani and decided to make him a photo book to help with his transition to Acres of Love. When we saw what she made, we were overwhelmed with gratitude at how deeply our children understand the idea of family and home. Turning the pages of the book, we saw notes she had written like “your mommy can’t wait to hold you” and “we can’t wait for you to join us at the dinner table!” This young lady came to us as an older child. She understands what it means to be abandoned, and she understands what it means to feel loved and secure in an Acres of Love Forever Home.
We are spending each day with Philani and cannot wait until he is safely in our care full-time. He will be joining a Forever Family with a kind, gentle house mama and five sweet brothers. After years in institutionalized care, we are anxious to meet his needs with love as we offer him the very best medical care and therapies to help him reach his developmental milestones. He is already a much loved member of our family.