Shelter opens doors to five more abandoned babies

SAFE HAVEN … Ronel Peters founder of Ruach Elohim Foun- dation with social worker Catrien du Toit and the six babies taken from Katutura Intermediate Hospital to the Ruach Elohim Foundation at Swakopmund last Tuesday.

Ronel Peters (51), a former pharmaceutical medical representative and the founder of Ruach Elohim Foundation, has come to the rescue of six more abandoned babies last Tuesday.

She says she has read about abandoned babies who were accommodated at Windhoek’s Katutura Intermediate Hospital, and decided to take action.

“Our private social worker, Catrien du Toit, started the difficult process of all the paper and legal work to get them removed from the hospital and placed with us and other places of safety,” Peters says.

“We can just confirm that five of the babies are now placed with us, while another one has been taken to another place of safety,” she says.

The foundation, located at Swakopmund, was established in 2018 and offers an alternative to baby dumping through its ‘baby-saver box’, which is built into the shelter’s boundary wall.

Peters and her husband, Dick Peters, have opened their house to babies whose mothers are not able to care for them.
They also offer mothers counselling.

Ruach Elohim is Hebrew for ‘breath of God’.

The foundation was registered with the Ministry of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Child Welfare as a place of safety.
“We decided to open our house to take care of unwanted, neglected, vulnerable and abandoned babies,” Peters says.

For safety reasons Peters says they cannot divulge how many babies the foundation is currently accommodating.

“It is very important that these babies are eventually adopted by forever homes,” she says.

Peters says some of the challenges faced by the foundation are its day-to-day costs, medical costs, caretakers’ salaries and creating enough awareness so that no mother has to resort to baby dumping.

Babies are left in the foundation’s baby-saver box anonymously.

“We don’t ever meet the babies’ mothers. When a mother comes back for her baby, a thorough investigation will be done by our social worker before returning any baby,” Peters says.

Babies and toddlers from the ages of 0 to 18 months have been placed in the foundation’s care by social workers through a court order.

“While we have this facility, we realised that babies are still being dumped and left in unsafe places. That has led us to the conclusion that desperate mothers do not know there are places of safety where they can leave their babies anonymously,” she says.

Peters appeals to mothers who cannot take care of their babies to contact any social worker in their region, any hospital, the nearest police station, or herself.

The couple says they are in touch with the police, social workers and councillors around the country and have had a massive response from anonymous pregnant woman in need across the country.

The couple has three adult children of their own.

“Our children grew up with babies in the house and they have always welcomed and loved them like their own family. They have always supported us on this important journey to make a positive difference in the lives of these babies,” Peters says.

Peters toured some parts of the country two years ago to raise more awareness of baby dumping.

She has visited Usakos, Karibib, Omaruru, Otjiwarongo, Otavi, Tsumeb, Omuthiya, Ondangwa, Ongwediva and Oshakati so far and plans to move on to the rest of Namibia.

The couple urges Namibians to get involved in raising awareness to help them save more babies.

Peters is encouraging members of the public to donate to the centre to allow it to fulfil its obligations.

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