Because where there is vision, there is hope, and where there is hope, there is always a way forward.
Johannesburg, South Africa -It’s a story that rocked the nation. On the 2nd of May 2018, the Pink Ladies (an organisation for Missing Children in South Africa) issued a kidnapped child alert after it was alleged that a domestic worker took Baby Eden, tied on her back with a light blue blanket, for a walk… and did not return to the family home in Brackendowns, Alberton.
The nation watched with heartbreak as the minutes, turned into hours and then turned into days. South Africa had become invested in a story where everyone was waiting for some good news.
And four days later that good news came. Baby Eden had been reunited with his family, and his story had restored hope in so many South Africans.
But on the 2nd of September 2019, another kidnapping took over our headlines. 6-year-old Amy-Lee de Jager was taken by four men outside of her school. She was returned to her parents in the early hours of the morning, but the trauma will remain forever.
Baby Eden’s mom, Bronwyn Laird, wrote an open letter to Amy-Lee’s parents, the media and South Africa giving Good Things Guy permission to publish.
Read the full letter below:
Another Monday morning, a normal routine of getting a household of six ready for the day ahead. This day, however, would take a turn we couldn’t anticipate, a day when our past would come back to haunt us through someone else’s story.
Another young, innocent child, kidnapped, ripped right out of her mother’s arms, my heart dropped to my stomach as memories of what was to follow flooded into my own mind. Was it a tough day, yes, for more than I was prepared. Yet this is not my story; it is your story; it is everyone’s story.
Wednesday the 4th of September, on my way home from work, I receive a phone call. Another reporter, this one from a reputable Media House, a familiar one for our family. “
Bronwyn, we would love you to write a letter to Amy-Lee’s mommy, something inspirational, sharing your pain, maybe some words of advice, you know, something that you feel on your heart that you would have liked to have said to her should you ever have had the opportunity”, sounds sweet, but let’s be honest here, who is this really benefitting? Our messy relationship with the media over the past 15 months has taught me so much, but one thing I learned was that I didn’t need to feel inferior or afraid anymore, if you’re giving me a platform, I get to use it right?
A Good Guy gave me the freedom to give my message the way in which we try to live out our lives, with hope and love, and I’d like to continue on that road.
So, while I sit in front of my laptop, with my message to share, I silently pray my heart is heard. I also hope the media who genuinely want to make a difference, who really want to spread awareness and hope, and also want to see a change, might adjust the way they choose to cover stories like these and help bring healing to an already bleeding people.
So here it is, a letter to a mother… and a father, a grandparent, a young adult, in fact, if you’re alive and kicking, living in South Africa and willing to make a difference, this letter is for you.
A horrific crime hits the headlines; people are reeling in shock; people are angry, demanding answers and justice. Time moves swiftly and before we know it, the angry voices have died down, the support for justice for those who have fallen victim to terrible crimes has dissipated and those who stay behind to keep fighting for the voiceless, are left to drown in the overwhelming work that lies ahead of them, case by case taking a small piece of their heart with them.
Change starts with me, with you, every mother, every father, every man, every woman, every age, every colour, every income level, every culture, every single one of us. One person cannot make a difference alone, but one person can inspire another, and then another, and another.
We are currently a Nation in pain, but let’s not allow our pain to drop us to our knees, let’s stand up and make the change we want to see, let’s find the purpose and power in our pain. Let’s find a way to break the chain of negativity and fear; let ’s stop the doubt and create a vision. Because where there is vision, there is hope, and where there is hope, there is always a way forward.
So many have doubted the power they have to make a difference, uneducated, under qualified, ill-equipped and so forth, I felt the same for so long, it took the trauma of my child being kidnapped and held for ransom for me to find the strength from my source and rise up. And we rise by lifting others; we have so many ways in which to do this, if only we choose to.
Yes, our child was taken, yes it was traumatic, I would never downplay what we endured, but I also cannot ignore the most incredible people in the most incredible organisations, who worked in the background like it was their child who had been taken.
They barely ate, they didn’t sleep, and when our child was rescued, they asked for no thanks or recognition, some simply faded away quietly, moving on to the next cry for help. There are so many organisations that have risen up, and need our help to make the change we are crying out for. In our story, organisations like The Pink Ladies, The CPF, Afriforum (a few that asked not to be mentioned) are some of the finest men and women you will come across. They didn’t just do their jobs, they sat with us, they held our hands, they dried our tears, and they brought comfort and encouragement.
Though not an NPO, I cannot send this without making mention of the SAPS and affiliations the like of the Kidnapping Division. The divisions assigned to our case were kind, sympathetic, professional and diligent, some (just like the organisations mentioned above) have become family and still message us to ask after our well-being.
A great Christian leader in our country once said “Be a thermostat, not a thermometer, because a thermometer reacts to its surroundings, but a thermostat changes the atmosphere it’s surrounded by”, let’s change the atmosphere by choosing to stand behind an organization fighting for change, challenges are opportunities to create new solutions, so choose your challenge, rise up and take a stand. CWA, Get Up Woman, Durbanville Children’s Home, Earthchild Projects, Ethelbert Children’s Home, NICRO, SA Children’s Home, Pink Ladies, Dare 2 Care, these are just a few of thousands of organisations standing to make a difference. Become a game-changer by surrounding yourself with warriors, every single person still missing, every single parent waiting for an update, every single rape victim, every victim of crime, are waiting for you to be the solution.
Add your voice in any capacity you are able, to an organisation that you feel most passionate about, and you will see change, in yourself and your community. The investment you put into a purpose today, could save a life tomorrow, never see your effort as insignificant, you are inspiring someone watching your actions and hearing your words. So be kind, be positive, be unwavering in love and watch a nation heal. It starts with me, and it starts with you.
All my love,
Baby Eden’s Mom