Cheryl Pratley received The Clarins/Fairlady Most Dynamic Woman of the Year Award in 2005. Well over 600 babies have passed through Shepherd’s Keep and have been adopted.
Durban, South Africa
Shepherd’s Keep Home for Abandoned Babies was founded by Colin and Cheryl Pratley in 1998 through their vision to create a haven of love for tiny babies, discarded firstly by their mothers and then by society. In the words of the Administrator, their daughter Michelle:
"Our family has a long history of caring for and loving children. Cheryl always had a calling and a heart for children in need and fostered a child whose mother had committed suicide, until the welfare gave her back to her alcoholic father. In the early 1990’s Cheryl was asked to care for a baby by the parents who took drugs. They removed the baby from her and despite her efforts to involve the authorities, the baby subsequently died from neglect. These both had a huge impact on her emotionally and she began crisis parenting, where a baby was removed from its parents for a period of 6 weeks. Cheryl learnt from this process that 6 weeks is not long enough for any resolution and prayed for a bigger solution to an ever growing problem in South Africa as AIDS took its toll and increasing numbers of babies were abandoned. In Feb 1998, Shepherd’s Keep, named after her [Cheryl] parent’s home, began in a house, registered for 20 babies. Colin made Zulu drums and sold them overseas to raise funds for the home to keep going.
"By 2000, the numbers had increased to the point where a property was sourced for rent and funds raised for the construction of a larger building. A file records the donations of building materials, sourced by phone and in person, some as large as the aluminium section of the roof, some as small as the glass bricks used for the glass cross in our chapel. One donor told me that the Holy Spirit was telling him that I was telling the truth while I spoke to him and that I could choose the tiles I needed.
"The building opened, dedicated to the Lord in our chapel and the babies began arriving, healthy babies, sick babies, abandoned babies and attempted abortions. Mothers ostracised by families for falling pregnant and considering abortion were reunited. Medical cases as severe as Rejoice, who was born without a fontanelle and had swelling on her brain, had cranial surgery to remove her skull and refit it, adopted by doctors in America. Mom was allowed to watch the surgery. The Clarins/Fairlady award was won after I submitted a story about a baby who had just died in Mom’s arms. Well over 600 babies have passed through Shepherd’s Keep and have been adopted.
"Today our building stands and we are in the planning stages of opening a clinic for AIDS babies, assisting mothers with ARV’s etc as well as immunizations, feeding assistance etc."