Every child has the right to family care or parental care… (CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA, 1997) however this was not the case with regards to one of my clinical blocks as a third year physiotherapy student.
On my first day at a children’s home I was assigned a list of patients, normally one would be a bit nervous starting a new block, however this was not the case with me as I was so excited to work with children.
I got to the bedside of my first patient, she was sleeping so I decided to have a look through her file. Very shortly my excitement levels ceased as reality hit me. This precious little girl was born with cerebral palsy and was left on the door step of a children’s home at 14 weeks old. This was heart breaking as it came to my realisation that this little girl would be an orphan for the rest of her life due to the fact that at the time of my arrival she was already 2 years old and had never been visited by a single individual.
I understand that there are certain social circumstances which could have influenced this mothers decision, however if it was the fact that caring for a child with cerebral palsy was too much to handle – I find that her decision was very saddening as she did not even try to be a mom to this precious little girl.
According to the Constitution of South Africa children need special protection because they are among the most vulnerable members of society. They are dependent on others – their parents and families, or the state when these fail – for care and protection (CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA, 1997).
This right was taken away her and the responsibility of her parent was transferred to the children’s home.
This little girl is going to grow up with no answers as to why she was abandoned and believe that she is not good enough. ‘Children are like wet cement. Whatever falls on them makes an impression (Ginott, 1993)’
CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA. (1997). Bill of Rights., (pp. 7 – 39).
Ginott, H. G. (1993). Teacher and Child: A Book for Parents and Teachers. New York: Macmillan.