Living Hope is home to a new crisis-pregnancy centre, Bright Hope, which officially opened earlier this month.
The centre caters to unplanned, child, and teenage pregnancies and offers free counselling and pregnancy tests. At the same time, clients can get a free HIV test from Living Hope. The centre accepts walk-in appointments every Thursday afternoon, and further in-person counselling can be arranged by appointment at King of Kings Baptist Church. Online counselling is available through WhatsApp.
Bright Hope founder Dianne Louwrens said the centre was a response to an “alarming” increase in teenage pregnancies.
She described a “crisis pregnancy” as any unplanned pregnancy as a result of a one-night stand, rape, or “anything in-between”.
The centre, she said, offered young women a free pregnancy test and advice on how to make an informed decision about their pregnancies and the best way forward for them.
“Our clients are given all the options in a safe, caring, and confidential manner. We are ministers and not manipulators. We give them the facts about adoption, fostering, the morning-after pill, and abortion. It is very important that they decide for themselves once given all the options.”
According to the April 2022 edition of the South African Medical Journal, births for 10-to-14-year-olds increased by 48.7% from 2017 to 2021.
It attributes the “particularly large increase” in the past two years to a disruption of health and school services due to Covid-19.
The Bright Hope team consists of volunteer lay counsellors trained by the Pregnancy Help Network, which provides services to pregnancy-help organisations across South Africa and Africa.
All lay counsellors, Ms Louwrens said, were supported by social workers and qualified counsellors who could give extra help if needed.
Ms Louwrens said many young girls fell pregnant from rape and were ashamed to talk about their situation. “The consequences can change their lives, and we are here to help them make an informed decision and at the same time deal with the trauma they have experienced.”
Lay counsellor Lynn Hanger said: “There is a lot of focus on moms and babies and how to take care of their needs but very little interest in young pregnant women, especially if there is abuse involved. No one asks how they got pregnant, and this is where we aim to make a difference.”
Sue Schoultz, a trained counsellor for Fresh Start, another ministry by the church, said they did not want to take away from the “incredible” work being done by similar facilities; they just wanted to lighten the load.
Living Hope executive director Victor Thomas said they welcomed the services of Bright Hope. “We had the space available, and, with many of the clinics being full, it is a great way for clients to get help.”
King of Kings Baptist Church pastor Neil Smith said: “We felt that this would be a great way to be of service to our community and its surrounds – helping pregnant girls in crisis to make their own informed decision about their pregnancy and the way forward.”
For more information on Bright Hope, email email@example.com, visit their Facebook page or WhatsApp 068 232 6450.
Western Cape Health Department spokeswoman Natalie Watlington said that due to an increase in teenage pregnancies, the use of emergency contraceptives, early bookings, and access to prenatal care had been the focus of this year’s Pregnancy Education Week, in February.
There are several facilities in the far south that offer help to pregnant women.
False Bay Hospital offers the morning-after pill (emergency contraception) during the week, on weekends, and after-hours as well as various family-planning methods and pregnancy tests.
According to Ms Watlington, the health department has several support programmes for pregnant teenagers as part of the First 1000 Days plan, which stresses the crucial importance of the first 1000 days of a child’ life and the mother’s mental health.
The MomConnect service helps mothers to register each pregnancy at a state health facility and receive personalised SMSes, such as reminders of appointments. Dial *134*550# from your cellphone to register.
City Health has clinics in Ocean View, Masiphumelele, Fish Hoek, Muizenberg, and Westlake, as well as satellite clinics in Redhill and Simon’s Town, and according to mayoral committee member for community services and health, Patricia van der Ross, they offer family-planning advice and contraceptives, including oral contraception, injectable contraception, intra-uterine devices, sterilisation, and condoms. Pregnancy screenings and counselling; referrals for abortions; sexual-health screenings, including management for sexually transmitted diseases; and pap smears are also available.
“City Health has been working hard to make clinics more youth-friendly to make clients feel more comfortable when they visit,” she said.
The Zoe Project provides support to vulnerable women from communities across the Western Cape, and according to the manager of its Retreat unit, Colleen Kamdan, it takes a holistic approach to achieving good maternal and infant health care that focuses on the first 1 000 days of a baby’s life and supporting a mother through pregnancy, birth, infant care as well as other social services including adoption, counselling, and substance-abuse support.
For more information about The Zoe Project visit www.thezoeproject.co.za or call 068 545 7759.