ATHLONE REFUSE STATION, Cape Town, South Africa – Hoping to draw attention to the plight of abandoned and AIDS-stricken babies, South African social worker Fiona Brophy has spent several days recently living in this fetid garbage dump.
In the pelting rain, WorldNetDaily walks through the trash as rats scurry and orange peels, broken toys and VCRs, and other refuse are piled to the heavens. Gone for now is the sunshine, lush vinyards, Table Mountain and soft breezes that characterize the fall weather sent north out of Antarctica.
Brophy, a white South African, works with Little Angels, a South African organization dedicated to helping black African babies who are born with AIDS and those raped by their own relatives (who believe raping a baby will cure AIDS). In recent times, she has made this garbage dump her own home.
“The purpose of this ‘dump action,’ as it was called, was to raise awareness of the problem of abandoned babies, hopefully prevent the deaths of more babies in this way and raise 1 million rand (about $100,000) to pay for the new house for Little Angels,” Brophy told WorldNetDaily in an exclusive interview.
“Unfortunately, very little money was raised – about 10,000 rand – but I cannot give up hope. While I was on the dump, I asked God for a sign that the 1 million rand would come in. I asked for a flower or a bunch of flowers to confirm this! None came – until the last day. As I drove out of the gates here at the Athlone Refuse Transfer Station, Randy, one of the plant workers, ran up to my car, tears in his eyes and a single carnation in his hand!”
Brophy described for WorldNetDaily her ordeal in sleeping in the garbage dump, alone, and searching for abandoned African babies.
“All I wanted was to close my eyes and sleep the night away. I felt so alone. I struggled, my body aching and uncomfortable and wet in the stuffy black bag, my head sore. I forced myself to stay calm and shut out the ugliness, the stench, the strange noises and the utter desolation of this place,” she said.
“Time dragged as I slept for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. I saw a rat and watched him as he scurried about across the ground, stopping and starting and very alert – aware of possible danger. Unfortunately, he didn’t seem afraid of me. I had overcome some of my fear of him. He looked quite cute, really, like a very large and scruffy mouse. I doubted whether he would ‘go for my throat’ as one of the workers had warned.”
Brophy said that later, “the rat woke me up by coming too close, running up behind my head on the pile of garbage.”
“Then I saw that there were two! I just could not imagine that they would want to bite me. I sent them some ‘love messages.’ ‘We are in the same boat for a while. I won’t steal your food, so please help yourself to anything except me, and I promise I have no desire to eat you!’ Three scrawny dogs scrounged around and came a little too close. ‘I’m alive; go away!’ I shouted at them. I could see the fear and hunger in their eyes. They, too, were outcasts.”
Brophy says she had a rather disturbing dream that first night in the garbage dump.
“I dreamt that I heard a baby crying somewhere on the dump,” she said. “I jumped up, in my dream, and ran around desperately searching through the filth but could not find the baby. I began to panic, tears running down my face as I tried to find the child. The security guard also heard the baby’s cries, but we could not find the little thing. It was awful because I knew, just a little, how the baby felt – how lonely, afraid, cold and vulnerable. …
“I tossed and turned trying to keep warm and to find a comfortable spot. After the close call from the rat, and the nightmare, I became too awake and nervous to sleep. The night air was cool, the smell putrid. It was 4:10 a.m. The rat crawled out from its cover and watched me, its friend pulled a plastic milk packet along the ground. ‘Oh God, please may this not last too long. But you know why I am here; please, may we reach our goal.’”
Brophy said that she struggled to find the strength to make it through that first night.
“I could not get up and walk away now, so I prayed that people would give generously and support the wonderful work of Little Angels. I also prayed that no more babies would be left to die, exposed to the elements in desolate dark places, their desperate cries heard by no one,” she said.
“I thought of the brown files at the mortuary I had visited a week ago. Hundreds of them stacked in shelves from the floor to the ceiling, each recording, ever so brief, details of lives short-lived. Nameless infants discarded while alive and left to die a cruel and isolated death.”
Brophy described the infants in detail. They included the following:
- Female infant, full-term in black plastic bag, in decomposed state, long uncut, fresh umbilical cord.
- Male fetus, found in bin in Long Market Street, Cape Town.
- Female infant, full-term, the remains consist of a badly scavenged, mutilated body of a new born infant girl. Both arms are absent.
- Infant boy found wrapped in a plastic bag on a field in Vrygrond. Lungs float in water, thus indicating that the newborn had breathed and thus lived.
- Female newborn infant found in bush, wrapped in cloth, was alive when abandoned but died due to hypothermia.
“Their perfect baby faces and bodies stared at me from forensic photographs, and I thought of them that night in the garbage dump,” Brophy said.
“But the files make no mention of the loneliness, the heartache, the sadness, the fear, the confusion and perhaps even the hope that the souls of these babies felt.”
Brophy said that the plight of the babies inspired her to go on.
“Sitting on that dump, the collection station for the entire city’s waste, a filthy pile of garbage below me, the smell nauseating, the solitude and loneliness almost painful, I felt myself once again touched. Or was it that I was being touched by the spirit of the newborns?”
She continued, “I recalled the day I held Adam (not his real name), a little baby with AIDS at Little Angels, in my arms. His eyes looked deep into mine and touched my heart in an unforgettable way, bringing tears to my eyes. Babies have no barriers; they wear no masks. Their love shines out for all. Who can know the size of their souls?”
Brophy told WorldNetDaily that she believed the greatest pain of a discarded baby was the pain of separation. “It is also humanity’s greatest pain and the cause of most of our heartache, war, poverty, loneliness and fears,” she said.
“An abandoned baby, though wet, hungry, thirsty, cold, hot and so vulnerable, longs, I believe, above all, to love and be loved. Just love would save – just love would have prevented this, and I knew that love by a little group of caring people at an organization called Little Angels would care for and heal those babies abandoned and left to wait for death.”
Brophy recalled some of the abandoned babies that had been found.
“There was Annie (also not her real name), who had been left to die outside in the rain in someone’s garden. She was completely drenched when they found her. The police brought her to Little Angels. Today, she is crawling and thriving and in a loving foster home. Another baby was found inside a garbage bin. The hunger of an old, frail street woman caused him to be found. She took him to the police. This baby, too, is alive and well!” she said.
“But what of the nameless ones – the thousands of little bodies (as many as 5,000 a year in South Africa) in various stages of decay and decomposition, found eaten by maggots in desolate places or crushed beneath tons of waste, never to be discovered? Gifts of life from God thrown away with the trash!”
Brophy explained how she struggled to maintain “perspective” while sleeping in the dump.
“At times, because of the lack of food and the unbearable circumstances, I would lose perspective. I did not mind, as it was a way for me to perhaps venture closer to how it may feel to be an outcast in a lonely, forgotten, inhuman and dangerous place. My feelings ranged from an incredible expansive and emotional feeling of love for everyone and everything to terrible panic!” She said.
“I would question myself, ‘What am I doing here? I do not belong here! Nobody should be rejected!’ I felt convinced that we need to start knowing that we are part of each other, not separate at all. As we lift up and help those who are outcast, we lift up and help ourselves. Each person who gives of themselves through their prayers and their empathy, i.e., ‘feeling’ the pain of the other and through giving of their resources, becomes a part of the healing of the division – the separation that destroys us.”
“My second to the last night was somehow far better than the others. Three black cats came in and ran around. The rats were quiet. I tucked the newspaper around me and it really kept me warm. I tried to ensure that no creepy crawlies could get in. They had kept me awake for hours the night before. I crept down into the black bag, put my T-shirt over my nose and, although exhausted, I felt safe and secure in the knowledge that I was doing the right thing. Nothing else seemed to matter anymore. As I dozed off, I sensed a presence hovering over me. It made me feel as if I were being cared for, like it, or she – it seemed to be a woman – was tucking me in with loving, motherly, unseen hands. I really was fine, safe, warm, comfortable and in fact very happy.”
Brophy said that her “spirit was thriving. My spirit was benefiting through the sacrifice, through overcoming fear. I felt a curious strength within me, something indescribable, really, that was perhaps a gift gained through enduring this. I did not even feel hungry anymore, just dirty and smelly, but that was only temporary. The strength would last forever!”
“The next morning, doves came closer to me. They ate the fly larvae off the dusty ground for breakfast. I watched them and dropped in and out of sleep. I felt weary again, tired, thirsty and hungry. I prayed for a while that a miracle would happen today and that people, many people, would give generously, from their hearts, toward the work of Little Angels. After a while, I sat up and tried to comb my hair with my fingers, clean my teeth with my tongue and wipe my skin with my hands. Little creatures, I suppose they would be called lice, seemed to have moved in, not as detectable as the white fly larvae and so small I could hardly feel them,” she told WND.
“A white bird, not sure what type – I think it was an egret – flew in. It could not find its way out of the big warehouse and flew back and forth repeatedly, staying very high, bumping itself and getting dirty. It flew too high to see the gaping exit. Perhaps we, too, need to come down to earth to find our way. If we come down a little, get a little dirty and identify with those less fortunate than ourselves, maybe together we would lift each other up high enough to find the exit and our freedom.”
Brophy said that Little Angels hopes to continue to raise funds and that she does not regret her time spent in the garbage dump.
“Thanks to WorldNetDaily, the plight of the abandoned babies in South Africa is being announced around the entire Earth. It made all the effort worthwhile,” she said.