Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa – More than 3000 children are abandoned in SA every year according to 2019 estimates by the National Adoption Coalition of South Africa – that is approximately eight babies every day or one baby every three hours. Let that sink in for a minute. Of equally grave concern, is that the research conducted by the South African Medical Research Council showed that ‘abandonment’ accounted for 84.9% of infanticide a decade ago.
It takes a very special family to open their hearts and their home to abandoned babies; looking after them and treating them as a part of their family until they are able to find their forever families. Gary and Kerry Stanton are earth angels who did exactly that when they started the Upper Highway Baby Home (UHBH) just over a year ago.
The Stantons have been married for 23 years and have three children, Samuel (21) who is studying at the University of Stellenbosch, Rebecca (18) who will be following in Samuel’s footsteps next year, and Simangele (11), who was adopted when she was just three months old.
Having achieved all his career and financial goals by his mid-40s, Gary decided it was time to focus on giving back, and that is how UHBH was born, “My wife, Kerry and I have always been passionate about babies and children, and protecting the vulnerable. The time was right for us and the fact we could run it from our property was a win-win. For me personally, it is the final life goal that I had set for myself when I was in my twenties.”
Doing good has always been in the Stanton’s DNA. Before they opened the UHBH, they regularly used to help out at other baby homes and community centres, and also helped dog rescue organisations, adopting six rescue dogs as a result. “Loving the babies is the easy part; the greatest difficulty is that there are insufficient facilities for abandoned babies and children. The country is reliant on private homes, like ours, to help alleviate the crisis because the government is unfortunately not able to adequately address the problem,” Gary explains.
He adds that up and to this point, the UHBH has been funded almost exclusively by both him and his wife with the exception of a handful of small businesses and individuals who have selflessly supported their cause. Unfortunately, not unlike other non-profit organisations, the UHBH is starting to feel the pressure of the economy and funding is becoming more and more urgent, “We are unable to continue supporting it financially (personally) for much longer, so we are desperate to source funding that will help cover our operational costs.”
The R80 000 monthly shortfall does not however mirror the volunteer support that the organisation enjoys week after week, “We are not only blessed with dedicated staff, but with incredible volunteers too. We have nothing less than 25 regular volunteers who come to play, feed and love the babies every single week. If we could find funders with the same commitment and support, we could rest easy knowing that we have secured the future of the most vulnerable members of our community.”
At the end of the day, the Stanton’s dream is to grow their facility to cater for at least twelve babies at a time. Their longer term goal is to help 100 babies find their forever families. “You see, on average, we have to turn away 3 babies a month as we simply didn’t have capacity (or the funds). It breaks our hearts and so we are fighting like mad to make sure that going forward we can help more babies.” To do this, Gary explains that they desperately need the financial support of not only the Upper Highway Community, but South Africans as a whole. “Together we can do so much more,” Gary concludes.
If you’d like to find out more about Upper Highway Baby Home, would like to volunteer, or donate funds to assist them to continue their amazing work, please visit www.upperhighwaybabyhome.co.za or their Facebook page for more details.