Prison Babies

Although most of our babies are in the Babyhome because they are abandoned or their mother has died and we are taking care of them until they are old enough to return to their fathers, we occasionally also have children who have been abused or neglected by a parent and we take care of them until the parent is out of prison ( see ‘Uji’).

This month we have had two of these …..

Shabaan is about 1 but malnourished so he can not walk yet and sometimes has trouble holding his head up but this may be because he has the biggest teeth in Big Babies! His mother neglected him and has been sentenced to a month in prison. He’s quiet and withdrawn but is gradually getting used to the colour and noise of the baby home.

Issa was a different kettle of fish. Physically well cared for and obviously very used to being played with, he was beaming at everyone within hours. Cuts and bruises on his head though showed he had been hit and thrown  recently by his mother when she was drunk.

Issa’s mother, Neema, who is only 19, spent a night in jail and then managed to persuade the police that it was a one-off event, which was backed up by the neighbour that had reported her. She came in to tell us her story.

Kicked out of home at age 12, she had lived on the streets trying to make a living making snacks to sell.  After a while she was taken in by a’kind stranger’ who immediately put her out to work as a prostitute. `She contracted HIV and, at some point she became pregnant and gave birth to Issa, but the woman was still controlling her and was expecting her to work again.  She had become so distressed at her situation and hopeless of ever having  a real home life with her child that she got drunk and lost her temper with him.

She seemed genuinely contrite and fearful of returning to the home….and we would not release Issa to that situation. So we asked another social worker to act as a Fit Person and keep her safe at her house on the other side of town.We have paid a year’s rent on a small room which she is overjoyed with …….

and set her up with equipment and ingredients to make fried snacks – doughnuts and rice cakes.

And this week we went to check how they were doing . Neema gets up before dawn to make her snacks and walks around her area, with Issa on her back, selling them as breakfast items to people on their way to work. She is already earning nearly as much as she used to as a prostitute. I think the smile says it all.


Update on Shabaan: His mum was released from prison but did not come back for him. She has run away from the area so he is now classed as abandoned and will be with us until we find a new home for him. It is always sad to hear of a mother abandoning her child but maybe it is for the best in this case.

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