Letter: In South Africa, an ‘awe-inspiring’ children’s home

Tracy King, left, one of the King safe house’s Xhosa nannies and Kay Wilson hold three of the home’s 24 babies during Wilson’s visit.
Tracy King, left, one of the King safe house’s Xhosa nannies and Kay Wilson hold three of the home’s 24 babies during Wilson’s visit. Courtesy photo

Earlier this month, I visited the Kings Children’s Home in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. The Kings Children’s Home is a “Safe House” for abandoned and abused babies found and rescued in the rural coastal area south of the Transkei. I was there on behalf of Trinity Episcopal Church, and on behalf of other Rappahannock friends, and family of my husband Ewen and myself, to hand-deliver their gifts totaling $1,500 to Tracy King, who founded and runs the safe houses in her back garden.

Because I was visiting my sister and family who live 25 miles away, it was a good chance to give the money directly and to avoid the extra costs of bank fees and transfer charges. It was an opportunity to see the babies.

What I witnessed was remarkable and awe-inspiring, true Christianity in action. In 2008, Tracy and her husband, Pastor Jonathan King, already parents of three young children, were asked by the police to shelter for safekeeping a little black baby who had been found abandoned in the bushes beside the road. The Kings began to learned about the horrific problem of newborn babies being abandoned, abused and neglected in their rural area — which is not far from the home village of Nelson Mandela.

The Kings went on to adopt the first baby, and then the next four. Next, they converted the garage into a safe house, which can shelter up to 12 babies. Last October, someone donated a “container,” the size of our basic mobile homes, and by Christmas Tracy had organized windows and renovations, including a bathroom and washing facilities at one end. A carpenter made 12 small cribs — and bingo, Tracy has doubled her capacity to provide shelter, food, clothing and medical, physical, spiritual and emotional nurturing to 24 babies. That is in addition to the three natural and five adopted kids in her own home!

Some babies are abandoned by prostitutes, others have HIV, others are born to young teenagers. Many are found in bushes; most are brought for safekeeping to the Kings by the police or social workers. The youngest baby I held, four weeks old, had been born to a 12-year-old. Another had been rescued from her 14-year-old mother because the mother was being hired out for prostitution. None of the babies, of the Xhosa tribe, are wanted by their people — so white families have to be found to adopt them.

Tracy is on a mission to have each baby adopted before it becomes too old to be desirable. She has trust in God, and her faith that he will supply families for her babies has been borne out by her success rate in placing her babies in suitable homes. More than 70 babies have been rescued and placed since 2008.

The two safe houses are places of calm and peace; 24 babies in tranquility. It costs about about $85 per month to care for a baby, $75 a month for a toddler. Tracy told me that she has to use disposable diapers because they cannot do more than the current 10 washing loads a day.

Tracy also runs a preschool for the toddlers and other children from the surrounding impoverished and rural area. And every week she delivers care parcels of food and clothing to five different townships in the Eastern Cape.

Local South African authorities are unable to help financially, so the babies are dependent upon the generosity and compassion of individuals. For more information about the Kings, visit  thekingschildrenshome.org. Donations sent to Trinity Church at PO Box 299, Washington VA 22747 and designated for “Kings African Babies” will be sent directly in large increments, to the Kings Childrens Home account.

Kay M. Wilson

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