Baby born in YMCA homeless shelter

For the first time in its history, a baby was born at the YMCA homeless shelter Dar Niki Cassar.

A unique experience took place at the YMCA homeless shelter in Valletta, when a woman gave birth at the shelter on Tuesday night. YMCA chairman Jean Paul Mifsud explained that it was the first time that such a thing had happened inside the shelter.

“It just happened. One moment the water broke, the other the baby was born. YMCA phoned the ambulance, but in the meantime the woman gave birth, even though the ambulance did not take long to arrive,” Mifsud said.

Assisted by YMCA staff, the woman – an adult who arrived very recently to the shelter – gave birth to a baby at the Dar Niki Cassar.

As soon as the ambulance arrived, both mother and baby were taken to Mater Dei Hospital where they are being assisted by social workers and team of professionals.

For reasons of privacy and confidentiality, the identity of the mother and baby are not being disclosed, and Mifsud could not say what gender the baby is or how old the woman is.

Reacting to the birth, Mifsud said this was the first time that the shelter had newborn babies: “We had months-old babies but never newborns. At the same time I cannot say the shelter is an ideal place.”

On his Facebook page, Mifsud wrote: “a very special and delicate situation but at the same time makes me very sad that a life commenced in such circumstances.”

Mifsud’s wall was immediately inundated with requests from Facebook users asking if they could help in any way. Currently, the baby needs diapers, milk, clothing, baby towels, thermal baby blankets, bottles, a cot, a baby bath and a pram.

The shelter currently hosts two babies, three children and 18 adults. The figure is extremely volatile as people come and go almost every day. Mifsud explained that the majority of the sheltered people move on to independent living.

So far during 2011, there have been 144 admissions. Mifsud said the shelter would be at full occupancy with 22 persons: “But this year we had instances were the figure rose to some 34.”

He adds that when compared to last year, the number of sheltered persons increased. “These numbers may not only be related with people living in poverty but it may also include the probability that awareness-raising campaigns are working.”

By way of example, Mifsud said there might be sheltered individuals who would have been victims of domestic violence. Because the woman, for example, would find the courage to leave her abusive husband, at the same time she would have nowhere else to go and would end up at the shelter.

Mifsud also highlighted the importance of having a national policy for homelessness. As part of its work, YMCA has also been holding meetings with the National Statistics Office (NSO) to try and understand find a possible way for the provision of indicators that would show, for example, progress is affecting homelessness.

Donations can be made via SMS on 50618088 for €4.66 and on 50619212 for €11.65.