Raising funds for a safe haven through Nedbank Desert Dash

Loren Green, Beverly Heckert and Michelle Steenkamp will be racing as All4TheBabies for the Ruach Elohim Foundation in the 2023 Nedbank Desert Dash. Photo: contributed

This year, the All4TheBabies cycling team of four women sets to take part in the Nedbank Desert Dash to support a purpose that goes beyond the race. Their participation is fuelled by a commitment to enhance awareness and support the Ruach Elohim Foundation in Swakopmund with a fundraising target of N$100 000.

The Ruach Elohim Foundation is a voluntary association that aims to help prevent baby dumping and provide a safe and loving home for abandoned children from birth to two years old. It also offers counselling and support to the mothers of these babies and pays for their transport when they bring their babies to the foundation. Operating fully on donations, the foundation looks to afford solace to these babies while also creating a judgement-free space where Namibian mothers can seek help.

Despite a change in legislation that decriminalises the prosecution of mothers who give up or abandon their children, baby dumping has been on an upward trend in Namibia. According to news articles, Namibian police recorded a total of 234 cases of abandoned babies nationwide in July 2022. This is an alarming number for a country with a population of only 2,6 million. While there are various socioeconomic factors that contribute to this upward trend, many young Namibian women are still risking punishment and continuing to abandon their babies in unsafe and life-threatening situations.

In response to this, Ronel and Dick Peters founded the Ruach Elohim Foundation – a haven where women can leave their babies safely and anonymously. 

The baby-saver box is an initiative by the foundation. They have attached a box to the boundary wall of the foundation where mothers can leave their babies. When a mother arrives at the foundation home, they are greeted with a reassuring note that acknowledges their circumstances. Once the mother has placed the baby inside the box and closed it, it can no longer be opened from the outside and an alarm immediately goes off, sending a notification to eight foundation members, who then respond accordingly. Should the mother change her mind, she has 30 days to claim her baby back before the baby is legally registered for adoption.

Beverley-Rae Henckert, a member of All4TheBabies, said: ‘Generating sustainable funding for any charity organisation is very challenging, and we hope that the funds we generate will help them extend their premises to cater for more babies. Raising children is costly. We hope and trust that the funds we raise will make a positive contribution to give the babies what they need and help reduce any financial pressure that Ronel and Dick face.’

Henckert is grateful that All4TheBabies has a trusted partner in Nedbank Namibia, which gives them the opportunity to focus solely on their cycling training and raising funds. Being affiliated with the main sponsor is a privilege they do not take lightly, and they are committed to making Nedbank Namibia proud. 

One of the major challenges that the cyclists experience is team alignment, especially when the team members come from different towns. However, the work that Ronel and Dick are doing inspires them so much that they are determined to see the foundation being flooded with recurring sponsors and donations.

The team thanks their sponsors, friends and family for supporting them through their Nedbank Desert Dash journey and helping them create awareness about the cause. So far, the team has received sponsorships for their entry fee, gear, transport, fuel, accommodation and bike transport, as well as monetary donations for the foundation.

‘It really has been so motivating to have received the support we have so far. Thank you. We are beyond grateful and excited to have so many partners for this cause, and we look forward to making you all proud,’ Henckert concluded.

With rigorous training and a determined spirit, the team aims to complete this year’s race of 397 km within 24 hours. The race starts in Windhoek and the route will take them all the way to the coastal town of Swakopmund, crossing the world’s oldest desert. The race takes place from 8 to 9 December 2023.

To find out more about the Ruach Elohim Foundation, visit their Facebook page or contact them on 081 242 6396 or at ronelpeters@iway.na. To donate or find out more about the All4TheBabies cycling team, contact Beverley-Rae Henckert on 081 264 7448 or at bhenckert@gmail.com.

For more information about the Nedbank Desert Dash, visit desertdashnamibia.com.

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