Are you my mummy, asked a little boy as I enter Miracle Kidz, a safe house in Constantia Hills. She has a bag like that, he tells me. When this five-year-old arrived at Miracle Kidz he was an alcoholic, his mother having given him alcohol instead of milk.
It’s crazy Mondays at the safe house with two carers not turning up for work, not answering their phones, many children to care for, cleaning, washing – piles of washing, machines constantly running, resembling a laundromat and using 5kg of powder each week.
We sit in the playschool, the only place with some peace, sitting on tiny chairs. Added to the loss of help, Elsie wonders where the volunteers are. They come from the surrounding area and in the afternoon from schools, Reddam, Springfield Convent and the American International schools.
In the hallway, inside a crib lies an 18-month-old with a cleft palette. His mother, aged 17, was raped by her father who was out on parole. The baby weighs 4.9kg and must be 6kg to have the operation to fix the cleft palette. He was at a local hospital but not putting on weight, despite a drip, and ended up at Miracle Kidz. The child cannot suck and needs a special bottle, which costs R600.
Outside is another child, said to be the sister of the baby’s mother but suspected to also be an offspring of the 17 year old and her father.
* Miracle Kidz needs volunteers, people who can make a commitment as children need consistency.
They also need nappies and cleaning materials. If you can help, call 072 761 9301.