An Unexpected Gift

An Unexpected Christmas Gift

Save the Children helps protect abandoned babies, including a little girl left on a church doorstep one Christmas Eve.

Four-month-old baby girl, Elizabeth, with a Save the Children worker at our center in Zimbabwe. Photo credit: Elin Toft

Life is difficult for far too many children in Zimbabwe. What's worse, there are over 1.6 million orphans and vulnerable children - an average of one in four will be abused. Here, Save the Children’s Elin Toft shares a report from the field on one child's experience in Zimbabwe.

Save the Children works hard on children’s protection issues in Zimbabwe. So when church-goers came upon an abandoned baby girl one Christmas Eve, they brought her to relief workers at the local Save the Children office.

Local staff and community members shared that it is not unusual for mothers abandon their children. They tell sad stories about mothers who attempt to flush their babies in the toilet or leave the baby in a perforated plastic bag.

The four-month-old girl, named Elizabeth*, was found outside the community chapel – perhaps tucked away during Christmas Eve services. Members of the congregation had no choice but to assume she was abandoned so that her mother could escape across the nearby border into South Africa. 

Since Elizabeth was found close to the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa, it was suspected that her mother could have already been far away. There was no letter, no identification nor any documents to assist in reunifying the little baby girl with her mother.

All that was found next to Elizabeth were a couple of diapers and a few baby clothes.

Elizabeth is a beautiful, healthy baby, with brown eyes and black curly hair. She smiled sweetly when Save the Children staff played with her. She received a lot of love.

Save the Children’s social welfare officer was diligent about finding her permanent placement. After the search, Elizabeth was on her way to a new family with the hope that next year they would all be together at home for the holidays.

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*Name changed to protect the child's privacy

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