Five years on, Baby Box still welcomes abandoned babies…mothers need not dump their unwanted babies 

Home National Five years on, Baby Box still welcomes abandoned babies…mothers need not dump their unwanted babies 
Five years on, Baby Box still welcomes abandoned babies…mothers need not dump their unwanted babies 

SWAKOPMUND – Ronel and Dick Peters have dedicated their lives to providing a safe refuge for abandoned infants. 

Their home in the heart of Swakopmund, has over the past five years become a beacon of hope for mothers facing desperate circumstances, offering an alternative to the tragic act of baby dumping or the possibility of their innocent lives being taken by their desperate mothers. 

The couple started the initiative – the Rauch Elohim Foundation Baby Box – some five years ago, and more than 60 of the over 140 babies who have been abandoned since 2018 landed in the box or were placed by social workers in their care.

This specialised box allows mothers to leave their babies safely and anonymously, ensuring the infant’s well-being while protecting the mother’s privacy. Once a baby is placed inside the box, it locks automatically, and a notification alerts caregivers to retrieve the child promptly.

New Era recently visited the foundation that has been instrumental in not only saving babies, but helping them find forever homes. From the outside, the house resembles that of an ordinary home, nestled next to a noisy road. Yet, as one steps inside, the sight of baby toys greets you. The sitting room is adorned with baby cots lined up against the walls, and toys scattered on the floor. Tiny persons speaking their own language fill the rooms, totally unaware of how they found themselves in this haven. 

These babies come in all colours, reminding visitors that desperation and hopelessness see no colour.

These babies are also a clear testimony of how precious live is, and although their mothers could not keep them, they chose to rather save them. Other babies, however, were not so lucky, as infanticides are
reported daily – the exact reason why the Peters couple started the initiative to save as many babies as they can.  

Over 60 babies have been either left in the baby saver box, or placed by social workers in their care. Some of these children were reunited with their families, while others found foster homes through adoption. 

However, the mission continues for the couple and their dedicated team to save as many babies as they can. Ruach Elohim means ‘Breath of God’ in Hebrew. The foundation was registered with the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare as a place of safety.

Ronel said they decided to open their home in 2018 to take care of unwanted, neglected and vulnerable babies, and most importantly, to prevent baby dumping and infanticide.

“The box cannot be opened once the babies are placed, but mothers who have a change of heart have up to 60 days to come forward and claim their babies,” she noted.



Ronel, in an emotional interview, shared the journey which led to the establishment of their sanctuary. 

“We realised that many mothers simply don’t know there’s another option. They don’t know they can leave their babies anonymously in a safe place without fear of persecution.”

The Peters’ initiative gained momentum in February 2019 when Namibian laws changed, allowing mothers to leave their babies at designated safe locations without facing legal consequences. However, despite this legal provision, awareness remains low, leading to instances of newborns being abandoned in unsafe conditions, including rubbish dumps.

“We want to give each baby a fighting chance and the opportunity to live,” Ronel stressed. She recounted a traumatic experience in late 2022 when she discovered
a deceased baby in Swakopmund. “Something in my heart and being changed profoundly. I realised that we needed to do more to raise awareness about the baby box, and prevent such tragedies.” 

“We want mothers to know they have a choice. It’s never right to harm a baby when there are safe alternatives available. The foundation not only provides a loving home for abandoned children, but also offers support and counselling to mothers facing unplanned pregnancies.

We are here to help mothers in distress. No mother should feel alone or abandoned,” continued Ronel. In addition to caring for abandoned infants, the foundation wants to expand its services to include babies with special needs. Ronel emphasised the importance of providing specialised care and support for these vulnerable children, ensuring they receive the attention and love they deserve. “Mothers with special needs’ children need support as they, in many cases, are abandoned by their partners. They sometimes also do not have anyone who could look after their children in order for them to find work. Hence, we want to see how we can provide some sort of training so that they can cope with their situation better.” 


Dedicated assistance

In their journey to save more children, the couple is assisted by Fransina Guruses, Menesia Kharas, Eugina Xoagus, Vanessa Tjikuru, Shadia Conradie, Magdalena Gases, Imela /Ais and Justine.

“This is rewarding, and I would not trade it for anything. Being here has made me realise how important life is, and that everyone is special in their own way,” Guruses said, while feeding one of the babies. Maria Immanuel from Rössing Foundation applauded the couple, saying their work is crucial in a world where the numbers of baby dumping are on the rise. 

“Every effort to protect the vulnerable should be supported. In a world where the act of baby dumping persists as a heartbreaking reality, the foundation’s dedication to providing a haven for these innocent lives speaks volumes,” she said.

Immanuel feels that every baby deserves love, care and a chance to thrive, and it is through initiatives like the Baby Box that institutions such as Rössing Foundation can make a tangible difference.

Rössing Foundation recently donated N$350 000 to the cause of the Peters’ couple.