Stories of hope
“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” – Nelson Mandela
Working at JJ Haven is stressful, and often heartbreaking. Sometimes abandoned or ill children are too sick to survive, and most have been permanently damaged or traumatised in some way. Molly sadly remembers how one day, one of the caregivers came to tell her that one of the infant boys had passed away in his cot. Molly quickly rushed to his bed to check if he was still breathing. He was. He noticed Molly’s presence, opened his eyes, looked at her and then closed them again and passed away peacefully.
Every child’s story at JJ Haven is a testimony to the power of the love and faith which have made Jehovah Jireh Haven what it is today: a place where children are protected, educated and empowered. Molly, Neels and the 15 caregivers who work at the home see this as their calling, firm in their belief that they do God’s work.
In 1998, a baby girl was found in a rubbish bin. She was only two weeks old. Her mother was an alcoholic and addicted to drugs, which meant that the baby had to stay in an incubator for three weeks before she could leave hospital. Child Welfare in Port Alfred had heard about Molly and brought the tiny infant to JJ Haven. She survived and is now 15 years old and very bright and successful at school.
In 1999, the Bams were asked to foster twins: a boy and a girl of two years old. They had been severely neglected: they could not even crawl, had never brushed their teeth, worn underwear or used a toilet. Molly had to treat them like infants and teach them all the developmental steps that they had missed out on.
In 2000, three sisters were brought to Molly by a social worker. Their mother was a known drug addict and the youngest, an infant, screamed for ten days and nights due to experiencing her own drug withdrawal symptoms. Molly had to be tough, as the nurses told her that she just had to endure the screaming until the drugs were out of the baby’s system. The girls’ family had no interest in caring for them, so Molly and Neels happily adopted them.
In 2001, a young man brought his one year old son to Molly’s home. The father was ill and not able to look after his son. The mother already abandoned her family. The baby’s “nappy” was a plastic bag. His genital area was raw and blistered; he was filthy and parasite-infested. He suffered from chronic diarrhoea and had a bad chest infection. Two years later, the little boy’s father passed away. The child has been in Molly’s care ever since and is especially interested in drawing and caring for animals.
In 2002, Alexandria Police found an abandoned baby boy in a public toilet. The infant was extremely ill: he was HIV positive and infested with parasites. The nurses at the hospital gave up on him, estimating that he only had five days to live. They handed him over to the Bams, who adopted him as their own son. He was the first person ever in the Eastern Cape to receive ARV medication. With the ARV’s and Molly’s loving care he miraculously survived and is now a healthy, symptom-free 11 year old. He is a very active and charming young man who does very well at school. In his free time you will find him competing at computer games with his brothers.
In 2004, Molly discovered a baby boy who had literally been dumped in front of her gate. The child was only a few days old and had been abandoned. His “nappy” was a plastic bag which had made his genital area septic. Molly has raised him and legally adopted him. He is now nine years old, has a naughty smile and is a real mummy’s boy. He is a very loving child who is always ready for a hug.
In 2005, another underfed, ill baby boy was found abandoned in the hospital grounds. A 13 year old girl found and recognized him and took him to the police. The mother had disappeared and although the grandmother was later identified as his primary care giver, her neglect meant that she was declared unfit to care for him. He was diagnosed with a heart problem and it seemed that he was dying. Once again, Molly refused to give up on a child. Her careful nursing and total determination throughout many hospital treatments, helped this little boy to regain his health. He no longer even needs medication.
Another beautiful baby was born in 2005. The little girl’s mother could not cope with her severe disabilities: as her rectal and urinary tract are badly deformed, she is prone to infections of the urinary tract. Her legs are permanently crossed and she has no feeling from the waist down. She is used to crawling on her hands but the lack of sensitivity in her legs is dangerous as she does not feel injuries. Although she has been offered a wheelchair, she prefers the mobility that she has with a small platform on wheels. Molly has taken her to various specialists who have carried have done their best to help her surgically. She is now able urinate, but is incontinent and dependent on nappies. Due to her disability, she has never been able to attend school, but has had a private tutor since 2013. She has a beautiful smile and a warm and engaging personality. She is clearly a favourite with the other children: when she is unable to get anywhere in the grounds through her own efforts, they simply pick her up and make sure that she joins in all of their games
In 2010, a social worker brought a six month old baby girl to JJ Haven. She was desperately ill with a deadly combination of pneumonia, a liver problem, TB and HIV. Molly knew her mother, who was sick in a TB hospital. Doctors had given up on the baby, but Molly did not. Molly’s combination of careful nursing, love and total determination helped to restore the baby to health. She is now almost four years old, is symptom free and is always ready to laugh and to dance.
The Bams have recently adopted a baby girl. When she arrived at JJ Haven, she was very ill, with TB and HIV/AIDS. Molly has had an uphill battle to nurse her back to health, and spent many sleepless nights at home and in the hospital. It is hard to believe that such a desperately ill infant is now a happy, thriving little girl.
This little boy lives with the Bams. A few years ago his parents passed away from HIV/AIDS. His Grandmother is in poor health and still lives in the township. She is unable to look after him for most of the year, but he visits her during the holiday. On his last visit, his Granny gave him R1.00 to go and buy sweets. As he was walking to the store, a drunk taxi driver swerved onto the curb and hit him. Molly was heartbroken, praying for his recovery while he was in hospital.
Please note that not all of the children at JJ Haven have been described, and we have not used the children’s real names, in order to protect their confidentiality. These stories were chosen because they are typical examples of how our children have survived and triumphed.
Information provided by Pia Roser. For further information, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org