Child activists have launched a WhatsApp line to help despairing mothers thinking of abandoning their children.
Thousands of children are abandoned each year and activists are trying to draw attention to their plight as Child Protection Week kicks off on Friday.
“Some of the babies who are abandoned in public places are premature and sometimes even have the umbilical cord on them‚” said child protection activist Dee Blackie.
The WhatsApp line will put mothers in touch with places of safety where they can leave their children.
Last year‚ an estimated 2 830 children were abandoned in child care centres nationwide‚ according to research by the National Adoption Coalition.
Gauteng registered the highest number at about 900. Two thirds of them died under various circumstances.
Activists released the statistics as part of an effort to rally government support.
The coalition cited concern about the lack of data and statistics on abandoned babies‚ saying the state has no central data base that would give a holistic picture.
Activists have encountered several difficulties in trying to help these children.
For example‚ many are anonymously dropped off by their mothers‚ making it difficult for children to be reunited with their families and to obtain documentation.
“There is an assumption that abandoned babies are foreign and‚ while they make up a significant number‚ not all of them are foreign. There are moms‚ including teens‚ who are unable to keep their babies‚” said Blackie.
Adoption has remained stagnant‚ and more people from other countries were adopting babies than were locals‚ according to the coalition.