The DUT Community Engagement Office under the DVC Research, Innovation, and Engagement in partnership with The Division of Corporate Affairs reached out to the DUT community to help with the donation drive for The Baby Home. In the true spirit of giving, the DUT community opened their hearts and donated items for the baby home.
In upholding the strategies outlined in the universities’ ENVISION2030, the Community Engagement Office has built relationships with numerous stakeholders to build mutually beneficial collaborations and creating meaningful relationships.
According to the Community Engagement Practitioner, Phumzile Xulu, the act of giving is one that is both fulfilling and rewarding and is very much part of DUT’s culture.
“It is important to us as the DUT community that we are at all times in tune with the communities around us and that we ensure that a disconnect between us and society does not exist. The donations are a small gesture from our family to The Baby Home family, to show that we are at all times supportive of the work they do in caring for the most vulnerable, especially at this time,” she said.
Xulu thanked all those that donated items and said that it is gestures like these that show how we live our DUT values of compassion and commitment to improving the lives of communities around us.
The home is a fully registered place of safety that cares for abandoned or orphaned babies and babies given up for adoption. The home in Durban North cares for babies and toddlers from birth to four years and little ones with special needs.
To ensure that their reach stretches far and wide, founders of The Baby Home, Bjorn, and Jo Teunissen also have a baby home in Umlazi, South of Durban. The Umlazi home cares for abandoned and orphaned babies and also acts as a training centre for all new baby caregivers in The Baby Home family.
The Community Engagement Office has in recent months donated crotched baby blankets made by DUT staff and students who had formed the DUT KnitCrochet Club, the club was created as an initiative to encourage staff and students to learn the skill of crocheting and knitting. Sadly, this project was forced to come to an abrupt halt when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in South Africa.
The blanket drive was forced to operate remotely. Some of these blankets were part of the items donated during the Christmas donation drive.
DUT’s Basic Medical Science Lecturer, Jennifer Ducray who is part of the DUT KnitCrochet Club, said that when her department saw the Community Engagement Offices’ call for goods for The Baby Home, they were touched and decided to contribute. They collected R2000 and purchased goods to donate.
She, however, wanted to do more, so when she noticed that there was a call that also spoke to the DUT KnitCrochet Club to continue making blankets for the home, she knew she had to participate.
Speaking to the Community Engagement Office, she said, “We all know that it is easy and not too expensive to buy blankets that will keep a child warm, but making a blanket speaks of something more. It is time-consuming, and as such a labour of love by the maker for the child that will be wrapped in it.”
Ducray further explained that the work is a desire for the baby to know it is loved and special. She had also ordered tags to stitch on the blankets that said “Made with lots of love, just for special you” in the hopes that one day the child might see that and know it was thought about by the person making their blanket.
“Often whilst working on making a blanket, one is thinking of the baby who will receive it, and it becomes a work of hope and even prayer for their life. I believe this is the reason that blanket-making continues as a craft and why it is a lovely DUT initiative worth supporting, “she said.
Thanking DUT, co-founder of The Baby Home, Teunissen said the goods donated to the home would go a long way in ensuring that the babies under her care have a comfortable and loving home.
Pictured: DUT Community Engagement Practitioner, Phumzile Xulu and Jabu Mavundla from the Marketing, PR, and Events Office with the donations received from the DUT Community, on the day of the handover.