John and Bethany Arndt

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Category Archives: justice

The baby without a name.

February 27th, 2012 by | Leave a comment

Psalm 8:2-4 – “Give Justice to the poor and the orphan, uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute. Rescue the poor and the helpless; deliver them from the grasp of the evil people.”

When we first heard of her a YWAM volunteer had met her (Rachel), she lay alone in a small shack on a bed, with no nappy on, lying in her own feces, unable to lift her head she was so weak. This volunteer immediately phoned Baby Safe. She had also met the mother moments after, drunk and completely disinterested in her baby.

Her first thoughts were to get her to the local clinic and the mother agreed to go with her. They sat in the Masi clinic for hours in the waiting room before they were seen. Rachel felt frustrated that the process was so slow but also had the sense that she was involved in helping direct the course of this baby’s life. When they were finally seen, the doctor took one look at the mother and rolled her eyes.

Apparently unknown to us, this woman had quite a reputation in the community, and it was not a good one. Rachel asked to see the baby’s records and began to read a horrific account of child abuse starting at 3 months old when she was admitted to hospital for a fracture in her neck, after been hit over the head with a pan. There was also a note that the mother had already had 4 of her other children removed from her care.
Sadly, there were many similar stories, and to our shock everyone of them had been over looked by doctors and social workers. Our hearts were compelled to see an end to this baby girl’s nightmare. We knew that God had a plan to rescue her.

The next weeks in Masi,  I instructed Rachel on how to advocate for this child, knowing that it would be a long and arduous process. The local social services have very little protocol for removing a abused child. I was in the middle of several other complex cases so I asked Rachel to begin what would become a 7 month fight for this babies freedom. She spent many hours a day in the social workers office. At the time there was only one social worker there and she was in charge of over 500 cases. She was overworked and overwhelmed by her work load, to the point where there was little progress in any of the cases. Rachel thought a case as severe as this would be urgently attended to, she thought the removal would be instant, but she was in for a shock.

To follow were many meetings with the mother and child, many 2nd chances and excuses, and several violent outbreaks by the mother. At one point the mother disappeared with the baby and we couldn’t find her for days. This baby’s life was in serious danger, she was only getting thinner and being fed breastmilk from her alcoholic mother.

Weeks past and Rachel had to leave. We prayed for her a lot.  Baby Safe took on her case and for a while there was no progress, but we continued to pray. In fact, we could never even got this baby’s name accurate, so in team prayer we petitioned for the release of  “the Masi Baby.” On 2 occasions I finally got the social worker and police go to remove her, but each time the mother ran away. The frustration grew… I went to the  social service supervisors and even the Children’s Magistrate demanding intervention.

After four different planned removals, she was finally rescued and placed in our care ( a Baby Safe safety family). As a team we rejoiced in a long fight resulting in victory, all on behalf of a delicate little girl who had no name. One of the big concerns was the she would suffer withdrawls from the alcohol.  After being prayed over and placed in a safety family she was completely fine, and we had finally learned her name (not to be mentioned here). She was 1/3 the weight she should have been and she displayed intense fear at times, but she was now safe.

Her removal was not the end of the fight, to our shock her mother and father were contesting the removal in court and demanding to have the child back. The warfare surrounding her life was great. Things even got so twisted that the Masi social worker was considering returning the child! With the efforts of our foster family and our refusal to back down, we convinced the magistrate of the necessity for her to be placed in long term foster care. Mom and Dad have even been giving the opportunity to visit her, but the few times the mom has even shown up, she has been drunk.

A 2nd year birthday party was thrown by some of the Baby Safe team, along with her foster parents.  She burst through the door with fairy wings on, running, giggling full of Joy! The whole party she was stuffing cake into her mouth, playing with her new toys and making everyone smile. We couldn’t believe how different she looked and acted.

To be honest most of the child welfare cases that we are involved in here don’t come without a similar battle. These lives are of immense value to the Father and Africa’s future will be in their hands. Rachel who originally found this baby and advocated for her was here on a short term mission’s trip, she has since returned to South Africa with her husband to work full time with Baby Safe.

new safes = new babies

February 20th, 2012 by | Leave a comment

These four baby safes will be finished this week. One is going to Johannesburg and one is going to Swaziland, both places are rife with baby dumping. One will replace our original safe here in the valley, and the other is meant to be installed in Masiphumelele.

This little sweetheart was left at 11am in our Fish Hoek safe last week. I wish I could show you her ultra adorable face. We estimated her to be 5 months, although its hard to say exactly. She was healthy although clearly stressed by the days events, unable to eat at first and very tense. Meehan & Dan had her for the night before she was transfered to her foster home, pre-adoption. In her first hours she would only stop crying if she was swinging on the tire swing Dan erected hanging from there shower rod.

We are excited about new baby safe sites. The one going to Johannesburg is headed to a ministry that largely inspired the founding of Baby Safe. They are set up in JOburg city centre, an urban sprawl of poverty and crime. For years they have run a “hole in the wall” attached to a children’s home, similar to a baby safe its meant to collect unwanted babies. They run half a dozen children’s homes and have received hundreds of babies through their “Door of Hope”. We were honored when they contacted us to order a baby safe providing them with newer and safer features, in order to save more lives.

mom secretly leaves baby at 5am

January 22nd, 2012 by | Leave a comment

Dec 14th, my phone rang at 5am. It was the baby safe calling. If you don’t know what a baby safe is, its a devise installed in high risk baby dumping area. Someone can anonymously leave their baby there safely, as an alternative to discarding the baby secretly (www.thebabysafe.org).

Our local, original safe called Meehan as well, she was on call. She arrived at the safe within three minutes. We often have false alarms, people open the safe to look out of curiosity and it is so sensitive that it still calls us. As she peeked inside she was surprised to find a newborn baby boy. He appeared at least several days old from the looks of his umbilical chord.

With dark hair and big brown eyes, he appeared to have African features but its very hard to determine the race of a newborn baby. Many African babies are born light skinned and darken as they age. He could also be coloured (coloured is a non offensive term for a mixed race people group in South Africa).

This little boy was medically evaluated and was healthy and happy. Meehan and her husband are also a safety family, so they took him temporarily. Whomever is the first responder on our team, gets the honor of naming the abandoned baby.

His adoption process is well under way. We delight in the fact that whoever left him chose to give him life, even though he couldn’t be cared for by them. We pray for her heart to find comfort and peace. We also believe this little boy was spared and is set apart for a unique destiny.

DIY Adoption Baby Shower.

January 4th, 2012 by | Leave a comment

the husband assitant was a jolly good help.

Surprise! Happy Baby Shower! Is that beer in your arms?

Tizri Sparrow is a child of promise. He says "New Beginnings" over her & God is her banner.

 

All photos are a courtesy of acclaimed commercial photographer Paula Watts – AKA – acclaimed Zambian bush missionary – www.paulawattsphoto.com