By Home of Hope
Home of Hope is a registered non-profit organisation that provides care services for abused, abandoned, and neglected children in our country, with a focus on those affected by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), which is permanent brain damage caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol.
The organisation started as an interim ‘place of safety’ for children who were abandoned, violently abused, raped, hungry and neglected due to poverty, infected with HIV and AIDS and those who were born bearing the effects of excessive drug and alcohol abuse by their mothers during pregnancy. During that time, it was found that many of the babies leaving the care of Home of Hope would return after a couple of months. Because of this, Home of Hope began to research the possible reasons and found the common denominator namely Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Based on the challenges in caring for children affected by FASD( the invisible disability), Home of Hope has evolved from a ‘place of safety’ to provide a multi-faceted, unique long-term solution for the protection of our children and young adults and so respond to the big need we have in our country and specifically the Western Cape.
In the Western Cape there are 29-290 per 1000 live births (Oliver,2017) and the prevalence of FASD among grade one learners in the Western Cape was estimated to be 196-276 per 1000 (Abedeyi, 2022).
We provide holistic services across our organisation, which ensures that we meet every single need of the child as they grow up into adulthood. We provide care services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, specialised education, skills development, and mentorship services to assist young adults in navigating through societal challenges.
One of the many success stories which we love to share with our donors and sponsors is the story of Lwando. Lwando (16), has been a part of our family since he was a few days old. He was born prematurely at five months, resulting in his lungs being severely underdeveloped. The doctors had no hope for his survival because he was so little but God had a different plan. For the first 12 hours of his life, he was made comfortable, but with very little intervention. He only had an oxygen tube down his throat to assist him with breathing. He is a little fighter and proved everybody wrong. As time went by, his airways grew around the tube, and when it was removed, he struggled to breathe independently. He received a tracheotomy to assist with this, which he had up until the age of five years old.
While he had the tracheotomy tube in, he didn't speak; he could not swim or shower, and the tube had to be changed daily, he would mostly sit and watch the world go by. Once the tracheotomy was removed, we were shocked, Lwando began speaking non-stop (and still does). We had no idea that he could; he had been observing us over the years and absorbing all the information around him. The first activity he asked us to do was swim in the ocean and take a shower.
As we have witnessed Lwando grow up, we see how he lights up a room with his bubbly personality and cares for those around him with a gentle heart. He loves to read and learn about anything pertaining to animals, especially reptiles and insects. A year or two ago, he had geckos as pets. Yes, you read right, GECKO'S! He used to hide them under his bed, and surprisingly enough, they wouldn't run away. When you ask him a question about geckos, he can tell you all the details about the different kinds of geckos; it is absolutely remarkable. Our life plan for him is to secure an internship at an animal sanctuary where he can work with animals.
We are a public-benefit organisation and rely heavily on the support of the community and greater Western Cape. We can issue a Section 18a certificate for any monetary donation, but we also urge individuals to educate others on the effects of drinking while pregnant. FASD and the irreversible brain damage leads to primary disabilities such as poor memory, intellectual and learning difficulties, behavioural issues, and poor social and emotional boundaries. As children with FASD grow into teenagers and adults, other consequences have been known to emerge, including suicide, gangsterism, homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse, and trouble with the law. When we look at our country's job, crime, and substance abuse statistics, we can see the worrisome figures, as well as a lack of education and activism for FASD and its contributing causes.