'Every child is a blessing'

MAMA Angel visited Ethembeni Children's Home in Doornfontein and found the children having lunch.

MAMA Angel visited Ethembeni Children's Home in Doornfontein and found the children having lunch.

They were curious about us and asked us our names.

It was heartbreaking when some of them asked if we were "mommy."

Ethembeni is part of the Salvation Army's caring ministries and takes in 61 babies and toddlers up to three years old.

The home was opened to accommodate the overflow from Sally House in Soweto.

The walls are covered in banners, with each square commemorating the death of a baby.

In the past two or three babies died each week because there was no treatment for HIV-Aids.

But now the babies sometimes have a false positive reading that readjusts to negative. This tends to happen more often lately, since the incidence of Aids has decreased.

"Children are a blessing and every single one of them is important," said director pastor Liz Kamminga.

Kamminga and her husband, Rinze, who is the administrator, moved from Korea to look after the children at Ethembeni.

"They are all God's creation and God's gift," Liz said.

When they turn three the children are transferred to another home so that they can attend crêches to prepare for school.

Kamminga said originally the home took in many orphans who were HIV positive.

She said the situation had improved, though the number of babies abandoned in the city was growing.

The government gives about half the amount needed to raise a baby and Ethembeni relies on fund-raising for the rest.

Mama Angel brought groceries, nappies and other goodies to help out.

"We appreciate your generosity and we thank God for people like you who care," Liz said.

She said they had about four to six adoptions a month but l needed more adoptive parents.

"People who want to adopt can contact the adoption centre in Fox Street in the CBD," Liz said.

Kamminga said some of the babies had been adopted by parents from Finland and the Netherlands.

"Many people are discouraged by the lengthy process since it can sometimes take a year to be given a baby," she said.