From avocado tree to inspiring new family trees

1st Waterfall Scout Group sisters Julie (9) and Mikayla (12) Eksteen have been on a mission to collect and distribute 1000 blessing bags for new moms and moms to be within their community. We spoke to mom Margret and heard from the girls and their dad Chris on the importance giving new mothers some support during these hard times.

“There are so many people out there that have no food. When lockdown began my mom asked us to collect the avo’s from our big avocado tree so we could sell them and use the money to buy food for the homeless”, explains Scout Mikayla.

“We were busy moving house so in addition to the avocadoes the girls also went through their books sold the ones they didn’t need to neighbours and friends”, adds mom Margaret. “We started out by making and handing out Jars of Hope to predominantly foreign nationals as they were not eligible or receiving any aid. But then we read stories in the papers of newborn babies being carried out of hospitals in newspaper. New moms barely have money to clothe and feed themselves, let alone a baby. Without their families and support structures nearby desperation kicks in and babies are left abandoned”, continues Margaret.

We read stories of newborn babies being carried out of hospitals in newspaper. My girls wanted to help.

“My nephew is adopted and my daughters absolutely adore their cousin. They have also been to orphanages before and we have had discussions about the challenges some mothers face with keeping their babies and why some babies get abandoned. The girls really wanted to help. They know what babies need and that is how the care parcels or the ‘blessing bags’ idea started. So, we sent out a message through our neighbourhood watch, through our Scout Group and also through local media explaining what we were trying to do. The response from the community was overwhelming!”

“The blessing bags are given to new moms and we put nappies, cream, baby powder, blankets and clothes in each one”, explains Cub Julie. “It’s been breath-taking to see how many donation we got”, adds Mikayla excitedly. “People donated money and also came with bakkies full of clothing and food!”

“The blessings have been absolutely tremendous and we are grateful for all the people who have helped make this possible”, says Margaret. “Local NPO ‘Hands for Hearts’ handed over a huge donation of goodies for moms and babies on Mandela day. Celcico donated over 300 baby vests and leggings, and we also received beautiful knitted and crocheted blankets, beanies, booties and jerseys for the babies, as well as teddies and dollies. We also have family in the US who supported our initiative through an online fundraising page.”

“The care parcels my daughters are putting together will hopefully help new moms get over the first hurdle when they come out of hospital and give them time to find support within their communities and families or else assistance from social services to either keep or – if they choose to – give their baby up for adoption”, adds dad Chris. “I’m very proud of my daughters who I believe have gained a good moral compass by being in the SA Scout Movement. As Cubs and Scouts they have made a promise to do their best every day and to help people where they can. My children really live up to that and I couldn’t be prouder”, he concludes.

I believe my daughters have gained a good moral compass by being in the SA Scout Movement.

Mikayla and Julie recently handed over the first lot of bags to the Robinhood Foundation. By partnering with them they feel assured that the blessing bags will definitely be received by the moms and babies who need them. When asked if Julie has a message for her peers and for people who have supported them she responds confidently “Do whatever you can to help others and thank you to all who have helped us so much!”

#scoutssouthafrica #SAScouts #ScoutsSA #MessengersOfPeace #Scouts4SDGs #SDG5 #GenderEquality #WomensMonth #GirlChild #EmpoweringGirls #lockdown #Covid19 #ScoutPromise