Along came Agnes
Monica Thompson lost her mother at birth leaving her orphaned at a tender age but through what can only be termed as divine intervention, she now has four mothers.
Thompson was born at Katutura State Hospital eight months ago and shortly after her birth, her mother died. The toddler faced an uncertain future as none of her family members came to the fore to take care of her.
She had to be put under the care of social workers while attempts were underway to trace her relatives. The search for her father proved futile. And even though the only family member traced was her aunt, she could not take her in either.
However, two weeks later, the social workers finally found placement for little Monica at the Baby Haven Shelter under the care of Agnes Tom who takes care of her every need including diapers, food and clothing and her medical needs even paying for her hospital fees when she fells sick.
“Thompson has been sickly this past couple of weeks; she has a persistent fever but the doctors have been unable to determine its cause. Consequently, she has been having problems with her eyes and ears as her sight is slightly affected and her hearing is also slightly impaired. We are the ones who have been taking care of all her needs throughout her illness. Fortunately, she is better now and is back with us at home,” says Agnes.
Agnes describes Monica as being a lovely baby who loves eating and playing a lot; although she can sometimes cry a lot, especially during the past couple of days that she has been ill.
Agnes works with her two daughters; Andiswa and Lulu Tom who have been caring for babies whose mothers have died during delivery ; those who have been dumped at birth or are from abusive families.
Baby Haven Shelter has been operating since 2005, with the aim of looking after babies of ages 0-5 years who do not have any other place to go to.
When they reach Baby Haven Shelter, they are meant to stay there for a period of six months, after which social workers are find placements for them in foster homes. However, it is not always the case as there should babies who stay longer than that at the orphanage and some have found a home at the Shelter. This happens when they don’t end up getting adopted and Agnes cannot chase them back to the streets.
The orphanage was initially started by Agnes Tom with three of her friends as a support group called Women and Aids Support Network.
“The idea was to take care of each other’s children in case one of them was to be hospitalised or worse, die, because by then, people were not yet receiving ARVs regularly nor were they well informed as much on how to live positively after finding out that they are HIV positive,” Agnes says.
However, within time, they realised that there were more children besides their own that needed to be taken care of, so they decided to open their doors for more children from the community.
Currently, Baby Haven Shelter/Orphanage is situated in Katutura and cares for more than 20 babies. They mostly work with social workers who bring them abandoned babies or those from abusive families; they care for them until the social workers get foster families for them.
Besides Agnes and her two daughters, Baby Haven Shelter has two other ladies who help them out with the kids.
Although it is sometimes a challenge to get food and other necessities for the babies, Agnes and her daughters are thankful that God has always blessed them; they get donations from churches, individuals or organisations that enable them to keep taking care of the babies.