St Martin’s Village in Newcastle is a place of hope for abandoned babies

Pastor Thomas Beneke receives a cheque for St Martin's Village's greenhouse project from Cherryl Mungal, Advertising Manager for the Newcastle Advertiser.

HUTTEN HEIGHTS – Babies at St Martin’s are the evidence of the love between two people, their presence cherished.

Although the little ones at St Martin’s receive love and care, it’s not the case for many other dumped infants.

But some babies will never know the comfort of their mother’s arms, as was evident on May 10, 2016, when a four-month-old baby boy was found dead at the Newcastle Dumpsite, his body discarded like a piece of unwanted garbage among the piles of filth.

Four months later, on August 4, 2016, the body of a baby boy was found dumped in the Paradise Sports Grounds. The child’s body was found in a refuse bag.

Then nearly three months ago on March 13, a baby girl was found abandoned in Amiel Park. Unlike the previous two babies, the newborn girl survived and became known as baby Hope.

It has been said it takes a village to raise a child, but over the past year, Newcastle has seen its fair share of abandoned babies left to face death alone; their parents vanishing into the shadows.

While homes such as Home Meah, Morester Children’s Home and Thembelihle Youth and Child Care Centre offered destitute, abused and abandoned children a place of safety, it seems there is an even greater need to aid the community’s unwanted children.

Due to financial constraints, a lack of governmental funding and minimal help from the community, Thembelihle closed its doors. Its children moved to other homes. Recently, Morester Children’s Home also felt the icy clutches of financial difficulties digging its fingers into the home.

Six staff members were retrenched and a number of children face the looming threat of being moved to Morester Children’s Home in Ladysmith. While charity-based organisations are struggling to remain afloat, there is a glimmer of hope for unwanted babies.

The Evangelical Lutheran Congregation has opened St Martin’s Village, a Child and Youth Care Centre.

No longer do babies have to be cast aside and left to die in the open, waiting for a passerby to find the corpse. The home will take babies from birth and children to the age of six, giving them a chance of a happy life in a place dedicated to finding homes for the children.

However, St Martin’s Village cannot care for the children alone, and needs the help of the community.

The Newcastle Advertiser has undertaken a campaign to assist St Martin’s for the duration of 2017. On Friday, March 26, Newcastle Advertiser took its first step to help the child centre by donating cash, which will go towards the home’s greenhouse.

The greenhouse is one of the first steps to help the home become self sufficient, and its produce will be used to not only to feed the children, but to raise funds for the running of the centre. Linda Becker, a member of the Lutheran congregation, has taken it upon herself to assist in running the greenhouse and vegetable garden.

“I have been involved with helping Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) growing vegetables and running their own gardens for more than 40 years.”

Her experience has taught her cost-saving tips to ensure gardens flourish; tips she intends to use at St Martin’s Village.

“A lot of people throw away leaves in their yards during this time of the year, but leaves are one of the best types of compost you can get. I would like to encourage people to rather bring their leaves to us; we will be able to put it to good use.”

Other items people are encouraged to donate include potato peels, tea bags and egg containers.

If anyone would like to contribute to St Martin’s Village and play a positive role in a child’s life, they can contact the Newcastle Advertiser on 034 312 6021, or St Martin’s Village on 087 170 0949.

The Newcastle Advertiser will continue running campaigns to raise funding for St Martin’s Village, so be sure to support the team and make a difference within the community!

Quinton Boucher

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