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Saving babies is the top priority at Ripples International – cgtn.com

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Girls rescued at Ripples International

In the early 1990s, the stigma of HIV and AIDS was one of the main obstacles in the fight against the pandemic. This stigma has often led those infected to deny having been infected and thus avoid treatment for fear of being shunned or abandoned by friends and family. As a result, many children whose parents are HIV-positive or infected with AIDS have been left without a caregiver after the death of their parents.

In 2003, Mrs. Mercy Chidi Baidoo conceived an idea to save these young people. She opened Ripples International to provide a refuge for toddlers whose parents have died of HIV / AIDS.

One of Chidi’s friends was infected with HIV in the 1990s and died in 2002 leaving a child behind. Chidi welcomed the child. Another friend later died of cancer after her people stigmatized her by saying she was bewitched. She also left behind twin babies which Chidi also added under her shelter.

“With now three children in my house, I thought it was ripe for us to create a shelter for babies. That’s how one of the programs was born, the New Start Center, ”she says.

Mercy Chidi Baidoo, Director at Ripples International

“New Start Center is basically a rescue house, where we rescue babies who are completely abandoned. In the beginning, we were saving children who had been abandoned because of their HIV status. But over the years, we have grown to come to the aid of children not only those living with HIV, but also any abandoned babies there.

Some babies are abandoned in pit latrines, others in hospitals, while others are found by the side of the road. Ms. Chidi works closely with the police and hospitals to save the babies.

To date, the New Start Center has rescued nearly 300 children. The institution employs nurses, cooks, cleaners, counselors and teachers to ensure that these children have the same fun as they would with their parents. The center begins to find permanent homes for children from the age of three.

“So our children, we only admit less than a year and stay with them until a period of three years. During this period, either we are looking for contacts or we find parents capable of adopting the child, ”explains Ms. Chidi.

The organization is also trying to find relatives of these children in the community. “If we get their loved ones back, we work on the process of reintegrating them into the community.”

Ripples International

In addition to providing a safe haven for abandoned infants, Ripples International also serves as a haven for older girls who are trying to escape forced marriages or are victims of female genital mutilation, sexual assault, rape and incest. Safe House welcomes these girls, provides them with counseling and ensures that they not only receive medical attention, but also that their cases are reported to the police.

“The highest percentage of cases is incest. It is especially someone they know, an uncle, a father, a grandfather. Very few cases of brothers, but especially of fathers and grandfathers ”, explains Ann Muthoni, head of the refuge at Ripples International.

Overall, Ripples International is transforming the lives of abandoned babies and girls. Ms Chidi says some of the children have now been adopted by strangers.

“We had a couple from the United States who couldn’t have children for a very long time and they were ready to come to Kenya and continue with the adoption process. So they went and went through the adoption process in Kenya and adopted Moses and now he’s a very smart boy, he’s now in the United States and he has two sisters after that.

To date, the New Start Center has rescued nearly 300 children. The institution employs nurses, cooks, cleaners, counselors and teachers to ensure that these children have the same fun as they would with their parents. The center begins to find permanent homes for children from the age of three.