Babies Behind Bars is a Non-Profit Organization as well as a Public Benefit Organization which was started in 2007 to assist mothers whose children are born whilst they are serving a prison sentence. Romy Titus, the founder, became aware of these ‘babies behind bars’ whilst reporting on a story for prime time news in 2000 and made it her mission to lend a hand. The charity is currently active in South Africa, Swaziland and Namibia but the hope is to roll the project out across the African continent.
‘A woman’s decision as to whether to hand over her child to be raised by someone else, or to attempt to care for her child in prison, is probably one of the most difficult ones she will ever make. Research shows that the first few years of a child’s life are the most important in terms of their development and the importance of bonding with a mother figure cannot be underestimated. However, the prospect of keeping your child with you in prison with its harsh conditions, lack of space, absence of sensory stimulation and isolation from all family and friends is a daunting one. This experience often leaves babies traumatised for life and according to an international study conducted ‘80% of children born or raised in prison between the ages of 0-5 years come back to prison later in life.’
Our organization realised that whilst the mother’s needs were cared for by the state, the babies were just left to their own devices and so ultimately ended up being the ones to bear the brunt of a life behind bars for something that was no fault of their own. We became increasingly aware of the need for child friendly environments with clean, cosy cots, a nutritionally balanced diet, sufficient clothes and disposable nappies, and toys and playgrounds that would help to stimulate their little minds at this crucial stage.
With the support of our generous sponsors, beneficiaries and our amazing Good Samaritans we have been able to start to meet the basic human needs of the children but the task only gets bigger as the prison population increases. It is the organizations dream to make a difference no matter how small and to lessen the burden for mother and child.
Every little bit goes a long way…..Please help us to ‘Unlock Hope’ for today’s babies and ensure a brighter future for tomorrow’s children.
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