A home for abandoned babies


Door of Hope has children up to 1 year oldDoor of Hope has children up to 1 year old

FOR bringing hope to the abandoned babies of the city, Door of Hope Children's Mission has received the 2011 Caring Joburg Halala award.

The winners of this year's Halala Joburg Awards, hosted by the JDA, were announced on 22 June at the Bus Factory in Newtown. It was the fourth time the annual awards were handed out. They recognise and honour people, projects and places that go all-out to improve quality of life in the inner city.

Situated at 17 Doris Street, Door of Hope Children's Mission is a haven for babies who have been abandoned by their parents. The organisation provides shelter for these babies, while waiting for them to be adopted.

It was started in 1999 by a Berea Baptist Church reverend Cheryl Allen, and a number of her church deacons who found that a high number of newborn infants were being abandoned daily.

According to the house mother and manager, Francinah Phago, the organisation accepts any forsaken baby. The church has installed a baby bin on the premises, where mothers can anonymously leave their babies at any time of the day or night.

Phago explains that there is a sensor where the baby is placed. When an infant is put down, the home receives a signal and someone immediately checks the baby bin. Although the bin is very necessary, she says, only 10 percent of the children are received through it.

Inside the home, there are two rooms for house mothers, a kitchen, an isolation room for sick babies, a room for young babies, a room for older babies, a living room and a bathroom. It can accommodate 12 babies at a time.

At the moment, there are nine babies at the shelter, but another two homes in Glenvista cater for 42 babies. In the beginning of June, the Berea home had 12 babies; two were adopted and one was stolen. It is a very sensitive issue for the house mothers, but Phago says they are putting their trust in God and hoping that the baby will be found and returned soon.

She does not want to talk much about the missing baby; as soon as the subject is brought up, a fresh layer of pain darkens her eyes. "This is still very painful … it is just like losing one of your own children."

She pleads with anyone who has any information about their missing baby to go to the Hillbrow Police Station. Because of this incident, stricter rules for visitors have been enforced, including searching people before they leave the premises.

Sleep routine

Despite this heartache, life goes on at the Door of Hope, where the babies – like all babies – must follow their routine. The younger babies' first nap is from 10am until 12pm, then from 1.30pm to 3pm; the older babies only nap from 2pm to 3pm.

Phago, who has been working at the centre for eight years, explains that her passion for children started earlier in her life, when she worked for a crèche in her home province of Limpopo. When she came to Joburg, she heard about a position at the Door of Hope Children Mission. She applied and was ecstatic when she got the job.

A mother of one, she clearly loves what she does. She says the bittersweet part of the story comes when a baby with whom she has already bonded, is adopted. "When the kids leave, we cry tears of joy because we are going to miss them but at the same time we are glad that they have found a home."

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