Health & Medicine

Behind the Video, 'Beauty's Children'

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Beauty with one of her foster children. (Photo: Guy Hubbard)

By Guy Hubbard

This blog post is part of a special series, Family Choices: Fertility and Infertility in Africa.

The assignment I received from The World seemed simple enough: produce a video about a woman who is unable to have children. My job was to explore the emotional impact of infertility in South Africa, and to show how one individual has coped. But telling a story about infertility in the townships around Cape Town wasn't easy. It’s a subject few people talk about openly.

After many dead ends, I got in touch with an organization called “Home from Home,” which places abused and abandoned children in foster homes. They said they thought they had a good candidate. A staff member traveled with me to Masiphumelele, about an hour's drive south of Cape Town, and brought me to one of the few brick homes on a street lined with tin shacks. 

Beauty opened the door and welcomed us in. Her home was immaculately tidy. Over tea, she talked about her decision to become a foster mom and about the township she lives in. I explained why I had come – to talk about her inability to have children of her own. She said she was nervous about being on camera, but by the time I began the formal interview, her nervousness had fallen away. She opened up completely.

Beauty talked about growing up, finding work, falling in love, and getting married. She told me how much it hurt when she learned that she would never have children of her own. She said it was her husband who pulled her through.

I was struck by how Beauty brightened up whenever she talked about her foster children. Deeply religious, she firmly believes that because she couldn't have children of her own, God brought the foster children into her life. She believes she has a calling to love and care for them. When she talks about them, she often seems on the verge of tears.

I thanked her and left, promising to come back later to meet the children. When I did, the children were initially nervous of the camera, but I flipped the screen and let them see themselves “on TV,” and they immediately began to relax. There was the usual banter between siblings (all but the youngest child come from the same family), but there was also a lot of love and support; they have been through a lot together. 

The two girls were chatty and loved the camera. The two boys were shy and tried to avoid it. I filmed them sharing cookies and doing homework, and I filmed one the boys playing the violin. After a few false starts, he played the South African national anthem, Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika. 

Beauty and her family opened their home and their lives to me. Sharing their story has been an incredibly moving experience. I hope my video does them justice.

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