Lead SALead SA

The Borrowed Angels Healing Initiative

‘Each year an estimated 3 million stillbirths occur in the last trimester of pregnancy. Despite increasing attention and investment for maternal, newborn and child health, stillbirths remain invisible – not counted in Millennium Development Goals , not routinely tracked by the United Nations and so far invisible in the Global Burden of Disease. Almost all of these deaths occur in low and middle income countries, with over two-thirds in South Asia and Sub Saharan Africa. Birth is the time of greatest risk with an estimated one million intrapartum stillbirths per year.’ As quoted by SA Medical Research Council Global Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, 15th October is currently observed in Canada, the UK and the US and has been since the early 2000’s.

This is a day of healing for all the women and families who have lost infants due to miscarriage or stillbirth and where, in the absence of the traditional funeral, wake or memorial service there is hardly any communal or public acknowledgment of this immense and alarmingly widespread experience of loss. Such traditional, social and religious rituals normally allow for an outpouring of grief and a degree of closure at the most difficult initial stage of the bereavement process - the physical separation from a loved one. Even though painful, for many, such memorial occasions at least sets one off on the long road to recovery.

In 2010 Laurika Steenkamp, a musician, music educator and mother of stillborn twins, launched the Borrowed Angels Healing Concert in her personal capacity. This year she has teamed up with well-known SA writer and performance poet Malika Ndlovu, also a bereaved mother whose poetic memoir Invisible Earthquake: A Woman’s Journey Through Stillbirth published in 2009, is increasingly being used as an advocacy tool and grief support resource for mothers and in the local maternal health sector.

These two Cape Town –based mothers share the sense of urgency to raise public awareness and on this issue as well as provide spaces and information to the women and families in need of this critical support. Together they have initiated the Borrowed Angels Healing Initiative which will in future facilitate a range of healing, advocacy and public awareness activities and interventions.

This inaugural event will be an uplifting evening of music and healing messages by high profile local artists , as well as insights from medical expert speakers on the stillbirth issue, in order to reach out to all who have experienced this loss and make available literature and assistance in coping with the loss and grief. Guest speakers Pregs Govender, SAHRC Commissioner and psychologist Nomfundo Walaza will offer their thoughts on compassion, grief support and the endorsement of the need for human/women’s rights community rooted initiatives like BAHI, as well as improved maternal and neo natal health services in South Africa. Professor Sue Fawcus will also speak as a senior obstetrician who has been working in public sector maternity facilities in Southern Africa for more than 30 years and has considerable experience of caring for women who have had a stillborn baby.

This BAHI event also intended to foster awareness within our society, of just how widespread pregnancy loss is and how to support mothers or parents and their families. In their own words ‘This is not a women’s issue or one that only affects the poor. There are ‘borrowed angels’ in every family tree, buried in the silences and sometimes even shame around this loss’ According to their experience and understanding, the lack of public information, awareness and insufficient grief support resources and medical staff training all contribute to the ongoing trauma and dysfunction of individuals and families.

The Borrowed Angel’s Healing Initiative therefore invites all to attend the event:

15 October 2011
The River Club, Liesbeek Parkway, Observatory
17h30 for 18h00

Teas & Coffees will be served and all denominations, genders, children /siblings over the age of 7 are welcome!
Attendance is free, but seating is limited to 300 so pre-booking is essential.
To book please call 021 -3613212.

TO ALL MEDIA - WE THANK YOU FOR ASSISTING US IN GETTING THIS MESSAGE OUT TO THE PUBLIC. We have the following people available for interviews on Pregnancy and Infant Loss as medical experts, counsellors and on the global movement and why the need for such a day.

PARTICIPANTS available for interviews:

1. Professor Sue Fawcus
Head of Obstetrics MMH
Associate/ Professor
Department: Obstetrics/ Gynaecology
University of Cape Town
Tel: +27 21 659 5578

2. Dr Joy Lawn - of Save the Children/Saving Newborn Lives on stillbirth in Africa, globally and the Lancet Journal’s series on Stillbirth Launched in April 2011 Lancet’s Stillbirth Series
Email: joylawn@yahoo.co.uk
Tel: 021 532 3494 / Cell:0798839706

3. Melanie Human, Social Worker
Dept Obstetrics & Gynaecology
Safe Passage Study at Tygerberg Hospital
Tel021 938 4748, email mhuman@sun.ac.za

4. Malika Ndlovu - www.malika.co.za or email himoon@yebo.co.za

Laurika Steenkamp email laurika@cpo.org.za or laurika@musicatwork.co.za

as mothers and founders of Borrowed Angels Healing Initiative and organisers of the event on 15th October 2011.


1. Emile Minnie
2. Sibongile Mgoma
3. Heavenly Quartez
4. Rene van Reenen
5. Croc Harris
6. Piper James
7. Tina Schouw & Lodi Ingha

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