Two South African women wrote an open letter to the Mom that gave birth at Park Station after three hospitals turned her away… we need to share this to get it to her.
Francine Ngalula Kalala, gave birth at Park Station in the Joburg CBD, after allegedly being turned away from three hospitals because of her asylum status.Last year, she and her husband Serge fled the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a central African country embroiled in civil strife that has claimed nearly 6 million lives, to seek asylum in South Africa.
IOL reported that at 2am on Thursday, Francine went into labour, and after a 20-minute drive, they arrived at Tshwane District Hospital, ready to receive treatment.
But the authorities at the hospital told her they had no bed for her and that she was “not allowed to be admitted”. She waited in the hospital’s entrance for hours, watching as other patients, who had arrived after her, were given treatment.
Once they realised they would not receive treatment, Francine and Serge drove to the neighbouring Steve Biko Hospital, where they were also denied medical care.
Confused and desperate, Francine took the Gautrain to Joburg, where Serge’s brother’s wife, also a Congolese asylum seeker, had given birth.
Francine spent the 45-minute train ride to Joburg vomiting as the other passengers tried their best to assist her. But when the train pulled into Park Station at 7am, after Francine had been in labour for more than five hours, her infant daughter, Emmanuella, could not wait any longer.
The train doors opened and passengers immediately cried for help. Security guards quickly came, bringing boxes to create a semblance of privacy for Francine to give birth.
They immediately called an ambulance, but Francine delivered her baby on the station floor.
Twenty minutes later, an ambulance arrived and took Serge, Francine and Emmanuella to Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital – where they were again turned away.
Serge begged the hospital staff to at least wash Emmanuella or have a doctor look at her, as she was beginning to turn blue. But they were sent to Hillbrow Hospital, where, after eight hours, they finally received treatment.
“This is worse than anything that happened to me in the DRC,” Francine said. “I don’t want to stay in this country. I don’t feel welcome here.”
Serge hopes their story can illuminate the discriminatory treatment of foreigners in South Africa, and hopes the next time a foreign woman needs medical help, she is not turned away.
“If anything had gone wrong and my baby had died or if my wife had died I could have lost my family,” he said. “Can you even begin to imagine that?”
Tiffini Hein and Julie Mentor read the news report on IOL and wrote an open letter to Francine Ngalula Kalala… offering her a helping hand and some love in their shared sisterhood.
We are writing to you as two fellow mothers who are both heart-broken for you and in awe of your strength and courage. We hope this letter reaches you and encourages you at this difficult time.
Reading the story of the birth of your child left us weeping and angry. NO mother deserves to go through the ordeal you did. From the bottom of our hearts, we are so sorry that the birth of your child, a tender, vulnerable, loving moment, was made so traumatic for you. Bringing a child into this world is one of the most beautiful moments of a woman’s life. Being able to adequately support his wife in this time; one of the most empowering moments of a man’s life.
This was stripped from you.
We hope for you and your husband that this terrifying day has not altered your perception of self in any way – your husband’s love and concern for you and your child are palpable through the articles we have read. Your strength and tenacity was most evident through the ends you went to in order to secure a safe birthing place for your baby.
We want to reach out to you, and if you are willing, we would be honoured to meet you, to pamper you and to show you and your precious Emmanualla some love!
You deserve some recuperation time after the ordeal you had! Your traumatic experience is NOT what we want to associate with South Africa, and yet we know we have a lot of hard work and healing needed to ensure everyone who lives here is afforded dignity and respect.
We are embarrassed. We are ashamed. We are sorry.
We want you to know that we are burdened by your pain and want to be a part of the solution. What happened to you must NEVER happen to another person – it is up to us, the ‘proudly South Africans’, to ensure that all injustices end and that healing happens.
We know that a traumatic birth can stay with you for years to come – what you experienced seems unfathomable. We cannot imagine how you are feeling today, but hope in some way that you will know that the actions of a few people, whether motivated through malice, inadequate access to facilities or any other reason, are not the true spirit of this beautiful country.
We, together with some friends, would love to throw you a baby shower, spend an afternoon with you, cuddle your sweet baby and show you the great joy of shared sisterhood.
If you have it in your heart to allow us some time with you, we’d love to show you a different experience of South Africans.
We hope you will give us the opportunity to meet you and your family. You can reach us on firstname.lastname@example.org
With so much love and well wishes from these mamas to you!