Reading a story in one of the community newspapers this week, made me ask the question – where did we go wrong?
The headline of the article: “Breeding” disabled children speaks of how teenage girls are deliberately falling pregnant and abuse alcohol to ensure the child is born disabled in order for them to qualify for a Care Dependency Grant. The logic, apparently is as follows:
In South Africa, financially strained parents qualify for a Child Support Grant of R280.00 per month which is barely enough to buy nappies (diapers) but if you have a disabled child you are caring for, you qualify for a Care Dependency Grant of R1200.00 until the child turns 18 years of age.
The 16 year old mother interviewed for this story said “I needed her to be born this way, I needed the money”. The toddler (3 years old) has Foetal Alcohol Syndrome – hardly able to walk and her vocabulary consists only of “mamma” and “no”.
This mother receives a Care Dependency Grant of R1200.00 per month but most of the money goes towards supporting her alcoholic mother and 8 year old half-brother. The teenage mother describes herself as “not very bright” and has little aspirations. She went on to say that she went to school because there was nothing else to do. It was, apparently at school that she heard from a friend that her mother receives more than R1000.00 for her crippled brother. To the teenager, this sounded like a fortune. She then decided that a baby – hopefully a deformed one – would help her contribute to her family’s income. After 3 months of trying the teenager finally fell pregnant. Her boyfriend was 14 years old at the time.
This teenager knew that alcohol abuse could lead to the baby she was carrying being born mentally disabled, so she made sure that she drank a little more than usual while she was pregnant. She went on to say that although her daughter is “quite a handful”, she does not regret her actions.
Where did we, as a society go wrong? How did we allow the “handout mentality” to become so prevalent and acceptable? Surely the poor and impoverished have not just sprung up overnight? I’m sure many of us had grandparents or great grandparents who were impoverished or poor, who lived in sub economic townhouses?
My own grandparents had minimal education, earned the barest minimum wage (when they were lucky enough to be employed) but they fought hard to make sure their children were better educated in order for them to find decent paid work to support their families. My parents and their siblings, in turn, ensured that we received even better education to ensure that we were able to get better, decent, well paying jobs.
What has happened to us as families and as a society? What happened to this drive and determination to create a better life for ourselves and our children? When did it become the responsibility of government and everyone else to give handouts? Have these handouts (in the form of government social grants) become an easy way out – a “cop out”? Has government become an enabler to the “handout mentality” so prevalent in our society today?
As women, what has happened to our pride and dignity? Have we allowed our submission to the “handout mentality” to swallow our pride and dignity as well? Women no longer cook and bake themselves – if it cannot be heated in the microwave, our families don’t eat. Women no longer make or mend their own clothes – we buy more and we want new clothes all the time – not prepared to settle for second hand clothing either. Food gardens no longer exist – if we cannot run down to buy from the local supermarket or food market, we don’t have food to eat, the list is endless.
So . . . where did we go wrong . . . ?