Baby Bundles is run by a group of volunteers and assisted by community members involved in the clinics and projects that we support. We have "cheerleaders" in several countries around the world, who collect goods for us, and source "travel angels" to bring the goods to Cape Town. Furthermore, much of our support, both in clothing and finances, is local. Once gathered, volunteers monthly pack the goods into re-usable bags, and these are distributed to particularly vulnerable moms, at 4 clinics in the Western Cape and to other special cases that come to our attention.
What skills and resources were you able to draw from the community for this project?
The staff at the clinics have been a major supporter of this initiative. We have recently held a collobarative workshop with them to identify how we could get further community involvement. We have a team of volunteers who meet monthly to pack the bundles. Many of them had never been to the townships and many have now accompanied us to deliver. Some ideas which we hope to initiate soon are: boxes in the clinics where community members can drop their gently used baby clothes for us to recycle and include in our bundles. We have a seniors' club in Khayalitsha knitting for us, but would like to offer unemployed new moms the opportunity to knit soft toys and caps.
The primary aim of our project is to assist in giving vulnerable babies the best start to life possible (tying in to the importance of the first 1000 days). We aim to give their moms support, encouragement and some relief from the dire circumstances in which they find themselves at the time of birth. We have identified 4 clinics,where high numbers of vulnerable moms come to give birth and have developed supportive relationships with staff members, who we entrust with seeing that the bundles get to the moms who need them most. In collaboration with community members we ideally try to have each bundle contain: gently used baby clothing (4 to 5 outfits per bundle), nappies (both toweling and disposable), bum cream, blanket, sanitary pads, soap, facecloth, toy and a nutritious snack for the moms. Our secondary objective is to support other projects in these communities, and we have built rewarding relationships with some child-centered initiatives.
Addressing the challenges
The Baby Bundle handed to that particular mom on that particular day, makes an immediate difference to her ability to cope in the first few weeks of the baby's life. So far 1900 bundles have been distributed. The encouragement and support we give to the moms on the days that we deliver to the MOU (Maternity Obstretrics Units), gives them hope and the feeling that someone cares at this very vulnerable time in their lives. The nurses and associated staff have told us that we make their sometimes difficult jobs, easier and more enjoyable as they can share in the joy of an otherwise desperate mom as they unpack their bundle. The warm and friendly relationships we have built with community members through this project, has been very fulfilling and a great personal boost for race relations. We often take visitors/donors both local and overseas, and introduce them to an experience that they thoroughly enjoy and will never forget. Through our community involvement, we have been able to support and make a difference to some peripheral projects in the townships such as Early Learning Centres (where we drop off toys that are donated but not age appropriate for our babies), Safe Houses and Afternoon Care Centres. Last Christmas we were able to give 18 abandoned or orphaned children in the Lindokuhle Safe House a Christmas party, with music, gifts and games. A group of Eastern Cape women and a Seniors Club in Khayalitsha, who are knitting toys for us as income generation, are benefiting financially from their efforts. The need at the clinics we support, plus some other clinics in the Cape Town area, is endless, and we hope to expand the number of bundles that we can produce and deliver each month.
To date we have supported 1900 vulnerable moms and babies with bundles. We have assisted (through our Facebook network) to completely furnish and equip a safe house for 18 children in K:hayalitsha and to give them a Christmas party. We have created an income generation opportunity for some low or non earning women. We have built bridges across communities in the broader Cape Town. We have supported clinic staff in their efforts to take care of vulnerable moms in their communities.