It was May 2018. She came into the world, early, alone, sick and abandoned, but love and care turned that all around!
This is the story of *Letlotlo* A little girl who was brought into our organisation through circumstances out of her control.
Letlotlo was found abandoned in a dustbin on the streets of Johannesburg. Her weak body was picked up by a cleaner. She was cold and wrapped in a plastic bag for protection against the elements and shivering from being exposed to the morning air, but she was still breathing. With her umbilical cord still attached, Letlotlo was brought into the world only to be left to fend for herself. A horrible circumstance to be in when you are only a few hours old.
*Jacob* could not believe that someone would do such a thing. He was busy cleaning his area when he heard a crying noise. He searched the area where the crying was coming from and found the baby girl. He picked her up, out of the filthy bin and wrapped her up in his work jacket to keep her warm and he then found a policeman in the area of Central Johannesburg. Jacob would not let go of the baby until he was assured by the policeman that she would be taken to a place of safety where she be kept from harm. He even drove with the policeman to the Station to make sure that this baby was going to be well cared for.
Our reception area was, as usual, full, with adults and children coming to see our Social Workers and, luckily, our Doctor was in attendance. The policeman requested for an Intake Social Worker to immediately take the child and guarantee that the child would be taken into our care.
Baby Letlotlo was the most beautiful little girl one would meet. Her little hand wrinkled and curled into a fist. As soon as I touched her hand her fingers opened and she wrapped her hand around my finger and would not let go. We called her Letlotlo – meaning ‘Treasure’. This was quite fitting to the little one as she was certainly precious to us. She was strong and a survivor…. and with only a couple of hours in this world, she had already shown strength for survival and dedication to life.
She was taken to the hospital for a full check up, only to find that little Letlotlo was HIV+. Her mother clearly was not able to cope, herself . She had her reasons for doing what she did, and wanted her child to have a better future than what she could offer.
All this happened 3 years ago… Letlotlo is now a beautiful little 3 year old toddler and has the spark that keeps our care workers on their toes. She rules the nursery. She has progressed extremely well and has learned to walk and eat by herself. She has made friends with the other children in the nursery and also tries to help the nurses with feeding the smaller babies (That were just like her)
They say the first 1000 days of a child’s life is the most critical and in Letlotlo’s case this is no exception.
Letlotlo initially needed 24 hour care. The Child Care Workers made sure that she took her medication and went to clinic appointments, they ensured that she had healthy nutritional food and that she was kept her warm, in clean clothes, and even our Gogo from our Gogo Program took her on as one of her own.
She is now being taught colours, shapes, and even some cultural songs. She is socially interacting with the other children and with therapy sessions there is improvement each day.
Letlotlo will be adopted by her forever family soon but due to Covid, these processes have been slowed down dramatically. She is very excited to be going to a new forever home but for now, she still remains in our care and is shown the love that she so dearly deserves.
Although this is one story of one of our children, there are many other children in our care who have gone through different circumstances and are living at our family care centres. All of these children are being cared for, and when necessary we fight for their rights.
Children have the right to have a protected environment to live in, to be healthy, clean and safe. They have the right to education and to just be children.
At Jo’burg Child Welfare we advocate for every child in our care. We serve over 300 000 beneficiaries annually and sometimes one child may remain with us until they are over 18 years of age, whilst others find forever homes sooner. Others go to Foster Care.
Each child is unique with different needs and requirements.
We need your assistance, even if it is for only one child per month.