Friday, October 20, 2006

Alcohol is ravaging South Africa's children

Will Ross:

South Africa's Western Cape is famous for its fine wines and tourist trails but the region's beauty hides a problem which has been largely ignored for generations.

The region has some of the worst recorded rates of foetal alcohol syndrome anywhere in the world.

In some communities as many as 8% of the children are born with alcohol-related birth defects.

Partly to blame is the fact that for years the vineyard owners would pay their workers not in cash but with wine.

Although that practice was banned several decades ago, it has left a legacy.

Now research is being funded into foetal alcohol syndrome - and the findings send out a strong warning to mothers who drink alcohol during pregnancy.

"Every weekend we get drunk. We don't worry about food for ourselves as long as the children get something to eat," says Sina Klembwei.

Ms Klembwei struggles as she explains the impact alcohol has had on her family.

On her knees sits her grandson, 18-month-old Lucene.

He looks underdeveloped for 18 months and can't crawl, let alone walk.

The cause? The alcohol his mother drank during her pregnancy.

Ms Klembwei breaks down crying. Young Lucene doesn't even notice but just stares into space.

Violent SA is drinking itself to death

South Africa's Children Are Victims of Nation's Alcoholism Culture


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