(Click to enlarge)
From time to time I read the blog of a woman called Tertia Albertyn — a mom of two toddlers who works in marketing for IBM in Cape Town. Tertia began blogging at So Close to document her painful journey through infertility and loss to the birth of her beautiful twins and life beyond. Her story was featured recently on the South African current-events show, Carte Blanche (think Sixty Minutes but slicker and edgier).
Some time back, Tertia wrote about her sister Melanie Novitzkas, a doula-in-training who started a charity so worthwhile that I wanted to tell you all about it.
As part of her training, Melanie volunteers at one of the state hospitals that provide vital medical care to uninsured South Africans. Seeing women give birth — in many cases prematurely and with awful complications — only to be discharged almost immediately with no one to care for them post partum prompted Melanie to start Bosom Buddies. This group of volunteers visits patients in the maternity unit at Melanie’s hospital to distribute care packages containing basics for both mom and baby — hand-knitted blankets, diapers, onesies and hats for the babes; sanitary pads, toiletries and homemade cookies to treat the moms. Mothers recovering from still births receive care packages minus the baby items.
Melanie, busy girl that she is, blogs* only occasionally — mostly to thank those who have contributed to this fine cause and post pictures of the moms with their new babies. Her posts chronicle the ups and downs of doing this kind of volunteering, and she writes about the heartache of sitting with mothers who have lost a child or those who are kanga caring preemies fighting for their small lives.
I was fortunate enough to give birth in one of America’s top ten childbirth hospitals. I had nurses checking my temperature and blood pressure every hour it seemed, and the 24 hours Tau spent in the state-of-the-art NICU possibly saved his life. Dave and I ate off a four-page, full-color room-service menu — big, fat breakfast burritos, roast turkey and all the trimmings, chocolate fudge cake — champagne if we wanted! We left the hospital with bags and bags of diapers, feeding supplies and personal-care items charged to our insurance provider, and returned home to a house full of food, flowers and cards from family and friends. The disparity between first and third world is just stunning.
Those of you reading this in South Africa are close enough to make a difference quite easily. Please consider contacting Melanie (or someone doing something similar at your local hospital) to find out how you can help. I’m scratching my head trying to figure out how to contribute in some helpful and efficient manner from so far away. I’m sure I’ll come up with something.
For more information on ways you can help, read the letter from Melanie posted on Tertia’s blog. There is also a button you can click on the Bosom Buddies blog to make a donation by credit card or Paypal.
Peace on earth, goodwill to all (wo)men.
*Update: Mel now blogs more regularly at http://bosombuddies.typepad.com.