Orange Babies is originally an idea of Baba Sylla, a man raised in Senegal. In 1998 Sylla went to visit his family in Senegal for a few weeks. At the time of that visit a pregnant woman came to see his father Bafode Sylla. Bafode was a well-known man in the area; owner of a large number of houses, always willing to help someone. She had AIDS, the woman told him. Could she maybe give birth at his house and later on die there too? After Baba explained tot Bafode what AIDS was, he advised him to say no; his father already took care of 47 persons among which 4 wives, 21 of his children still living at home, a group of adopted children and some poor family members and friends. He was also 91 years old.
Back in the Netherlands Baba realised he had given the wrong advice. ‘I had sent away a sick pregnant woman from the place where she could have gotten help. I felt so guilty, I had to make it up.’
On 25 January 1999 he started the foundation together with well-known make-up artist John Kattenberg and creative director Stef Bakker. All of them working in the world of fashion and design, they felt the growing need to do something for the more vulnerable in society. And in particular for a group of the most vulnerable people at the continent Sylla comes from: HIV-infected mothers and children in Africa.
Sylla, Bakker and Kattenberg joined forces to raise money for projects that offer tangible help and to raise awareness in their western world for the worldwide AIDS problem. For this purpose they use their extensive network of influential people in fashion, music, arts and sports.