Although the first Busfare Babies cottage has been in use for a while, we wanted to have an official opening ceremony to let the community know that the centre was open. Due to my having been in the UK and not too much time in between babies being born and completing the finishing touches on the cottage, invitations were created and sent out late. My apologies to all who could not make it for this reason.
Last minute preparations turned into a festive week with a birth cottage full of women peeling vegetables, cupboards being fitted (thank you Garvey), roofs being painted (thank you Sam), guest book being hand made (thank you Kay) grandmothers beading (thank you Mama Nora and Margy) and sewing garments. Friday was baking bread day, dough was kneaded in the morning (thank you Mum, Nondiliseko and Nopeddi) and then fires lit and bread baked in pots on the fire in the afternoon.
In true Xhosa fashion, the catering went off without a hitch. On the day, huge pots adorned the garden and women with long spoons stirred the stews and other dishes on the fire in the cooking area. Unathi MC'd the occasion with style. Nomvula Ghaka was introduced to the community as the woman who will be assisting me at the centre. Some of the women who had had babies at the centre brought their babies to join in the celebrations and gave speeches about their experiences. When speeches were over and translations made thanks to Mama Zita, the Bell "Culture" choir performed on the lawn followed by the young traditional dancers from Hamburg.
A cue of young girls lined up at the cooking area after the dancers had finished. Here Lungelwa and Nomvula sat as matriachs dishing up the food. Every one was served with traditional food and delicious ginger beer, with a deliberate absence of traditional Xhosa beer, as we preferred a more sober occasion.
The day was a celebration as well as a feast. Ntando from the Dispatch newspaper, with her colleague photographer, summed it up in the article published the next day in the Dispatch. To read the article please click here
We are really grateful for the financial assistance from BREADLINE AFRICA who have financed the renovation of the first birth cottage. Thank you too to Frik from Something Old, Gonubie Main Road, East London for the contributions of disposable nappies and blankets to the Birth Centre. Thank you to Johnson and Johnson for the donation of the hamper. Thank you to Collette Driessel for being the conduit for sweet little knitted baby goods to the birth centre from the Damant Lodge ladies in Port Alfred and Elsebe Cresbe. All the mums and babies are going home with a special bag of goodies thanks to your generous donations. A big thank you must also go to 25:40 for their generous donation of beautiful, handmade baby quilts, they are proudly worn by the mothers as they take their babies to clinic and are being much loved.
And most of all a thank you to all the women who have trusted me to be with them as they give birth to their babies. To the mothers who have trusted me to take care of their daughters as they labour and give birth, and to the fathers who have been willing for the mothers of their children to try out this new style of having babies. Thank you to the women that are working with and supporting me, particularly Nomvula, Unathi, Noluvo, Noluntu, Nosisa,Totyiwe, Mama Zita and Mama Nora for their confidence and support.
Without the support of the community and without the confidence and start up funding from Breadline Africa there would be no birth centre.