There’s a little over a week left of Women’s Month, but that doesn’t mean we need to stop celebrating the fairer sex!

So, continuing with the theme, OurHood spoke to The Grace Factory about the incredible work the NPO does for the women of their community and other communities across the country.

“Where there is a woman, there is magic.”
– Ntozake Shange

In July 2012, Amy Westerman gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Erin Grace.
As the months passed, Amy decided to donate the clothes that Erin outgrew and the accessories she wasn’t using.

She asked the car guards at the nearby Spar if any of them had newborns at home, and gave them the items she had loaded in her car.

And so, in February 2013, Erin Grace became the inspiration behind The Grace Factory (TGF).

“TGF has brought a ray of hope to over 9 000 new mothers and babies, and assisted more than 80 children’s homes so far, by providing them with basic necessities such as clothes, blankets, toiletries, nappies, etc,” says Sarah Botes, The Grace Factory’s Project Manager.
“However, because Amy’s second baby was born prematurely in 2015, she was motivated her to start collecting clothes for premature babies, as well.”

Botes says: “Establishing and running an NPO is a big job – even more so when you already have a full-time job and are a mom to two little girls. Amy could never have guessed that giving away surplus baby clothes and accessories could lead her to establish an NPO and that it would help so many people!”

“Since then, we have seen it (TGF) grow from only 100 maternity packs, to over 9 248 maternity packs – and counting – 5 years later!”

TGF relies fully on the power of its supporters, volunteers, sponsors or corporates.
“We truly appreciate every single donation we receive, whether in a corporate or personal capacity,” says Botes.
“One small donation from one person is just as valuable to us as a massive donation from a corporate sponsor.”

Botes says TGF have been privileged to partner with many companies over the years.

Just over a week ago, IOL News reported that the government is planning to apply a zero VAT rating to nappies (amongst other things).

“We think this is a great initiative, as nappies are not a luxury, but a necessity. This will be more affordable for moms and families, as well as Children’s homes across the country.”

And NPO’s like The Grace Factory, of course.

You can make a difference by submitting your comments by 31 August 2018.
After that, the Minister of Finance, Nhanhla Nene, will decide which of the recommendations to implement.

“More often than not, these women are alone and sometimes unemployed, and find themselves in a desperate situation where they cannot afford the basic baby care essentials they need for their newborn baby,” Botes says about the critical work that TGF does.

“We mostly work with hospitals or clinics in need in our area, but we have collaborated with other organisations and volunteers all over South Africa, who distribute and work with hospitals in their areas too.”

“…we also donate to Baby Homes, places of safety, or organisations that work with vulnerable mothers and babies, such as Life Choices, which is a free Counselling Centre for girls and women who find themselves facing an unexpected or crisis pregnancy.”

However, although there are other organisations that do what TGF does, “…the need is so great and there are just not enough resources to help every mom and baby in need, in every government hospital or clinic.”

Botes says the reactions they receive from the mothers can be anything from excitement, to surprise, to disbelief. “…often the mothers do not expect it and cannot believe that it is for them – some even ask if they are expected to pay for it.”

“Recently, we met a mother who had NOTHING for her newborn baby. We gave her a pack and went on to the next ward, as we usually do. Little did we know that as soon as we walked out, she immediately dressed her baby in the little outfit, beanie, socks and blanket.

When we went back to see her, all she said was: ‘You were God-sent. I had nothing.’”

We asked Botes what other necessities new moms need – maybe something that we don’t always think about.

“We believe moms need better support systems. Mothering is a wonderful challenge and can be difficult, even with a great support system.
Embrace ZA is a fantastic organisation who does such terrific work encouraging people to support mothers, and for mothers to support mothers.”

“We absolutely love that we have been able to partner with organisations, such as Impact Africa and Life Choices, who are able to assist vulnerable moms and babies. We often include their information brochures in our packs, or refer them when mothers contact us when they need further assistance.”

“This is definitely something we would love to do in the future though,” says a passionate Botes.

We asked Botes what TGF would like the general public to know about these new mothers in need:

“I think the one thing that stands out is that often these moms see themselves as victims and find themselves in very desperate situations.
We can be so quick to judge a woman for falling pregnant without having the resources to take care of the baby – but we live in a country where the rape and sexual abuse stats are so high, that we are in no position to judge them.”

She just wants to be the best mommy to her baby, as much as you would like to be the best mommy to yours”

Botes explains that “…while we are aware that this might not be alleviating the extreme poverty problem, we are able to help where we can with restoring hope. And if we all play a small part, we can target the problem together.”

TGF is a true example of community, and OurHood is inspired, and so happy to be able to share their story, and hopefully inspire other communities to either get involved, or start their own initiative.

You can help The Grace Factory by donating any of the following items:

  • New or preloved baby clothes.
  • New or preloved baby blankets.
  • New or preloved baby bottles.
  • Baby beanies.
  • Formula (NAN, Pelargon, Infacare).
  • Nappies (size 1 – size 5).
  • Bum cream.
  • Baby soap.
  • Wet wipes.
  • Any of the items in our maternity packs.
  • Baby food (purity 1,2,3 and baby cereal).

Cash donations are accepted, as well:
Bank Account Details
Investec Bank Limited
Branch Code 58 01 05
Current Account
Account Number 10011575554

OR, you can donate via the gift registry on The Nappy Emporium’s website.

Collection points for donations can be found in Gauteng, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Vaal Triangle.

“Social media has been one of our most powerful tools so far! We mostly rely on social media and word of mouth to keep people up to date on our latest initiatives and events,” says Botes.
Follow the Grace Factory on their social media pages, and please share them on your own.
Instagram: @thegracefactory
Facebook: @TheGraceFactory
Twitter: @GraceFactoryZA

All photo credits go to The Grace Factory's social media pages.