Helen Knowles – Door of Hope

Helen writes:

I am heading to Johannesburg in South Africa to work with an organisation called Door of Hope for three months.

Door of Hope was founded by Berea Baptist Mission Church . This church is situated in the inner city of Johannesburg and Sunday services are attended by people from over 16 nations. The people of Berera Baptist knew beyond doubt that God was prodding them to do something about the situation around them. In Johannesburg alone 100 babies are abandoned every month and left to die. There are many reasons for this, many of the mothers and babies are HIV-infected, the mothers are often so poor they cannot afford to buy food for themselves or their babies and abuse and prostitution is common. Door of Hopes goal is to meet the need as a result of the AIDS pandemic in South Africa, by placing AIDS affected and infected children into loving, stable and Christian environments in order to encourage them to become upright citizens and agents of change in South Africa and the world”..

Door of hope have three baby homes. I will be spending most of my time in Glenvista Baby House. This area of Johannesburg is a dangerous and violent district thus in order to keep the babies and staff safe it is enclosed with electric fences and high walls. Glenvista houses 30 children. There are up to 8 newborns, 12 big babies, and 10 kids in the starfish program. The starfish program is a new program and focuses on kids with special needs but that  are still able to go for adoption. This is also where I will be living in the basement of this house. I will be sharing a room with three other volunteers and we will cook all our meals in the kitchen here. As someone who likes their own space this will be a challenge to learn to live in close proximity with others!!

My role will be to work as part of a team to provide 24 hour care to the babies and children in Glenvista. This will include bathing, feeding, clothing, changing, playing, preparing bottles, doing laundry, and housekeeping, cooking and loving the children of all ages! I will also be taking children to the clinic and hospital, collecting food donations from local grocery stores, and small office tasks. With around 50 children at any one time, door of hope get through 7,500 nappies a month and over a thousand bottles of formula. As much as I am excited and can’t wait to work with these babies I am daunted by the massive tasks that are ahead of me!

Door Of Hope have taken in nearly 800 abandoned babies through hospitals, the police department and their Baby Bin since it launched in 1999. The baby bin is basically a hole in the wall where babies can be placed 24 hours a day. When a child is placed in the 2ft-long bin its weight triggers a sensor underneath a blanket which alerts a member of staff at a Door Of Hope orphanage yards away who immediately collects the baby and begins caring for them. The idea of a baby bin disturbs some people but the Baby Bin gives a chance of life to children who would otherwise have been left to famish at a bus stop or doorway. The reality is that babies have been flushed down toilets, tied them to train tracks and thrown out of high-rise buildings. A three-day-old boy recently symbolised the problem. He was left cut and bruised in a rubbish bin full of smashed glass and with his umbilical cord still attached. Many of the babies are malnourished, some are only a few weeks old, and many are abandoned at night because the mothers feel such shame but they can use the bin in secret. Although the Baby Bin was originally set up to stop Aids orphans being abandoned on the streets, the prime reason infants are being left now is sheer lack of money. The numbers of abandoned babies have soared from five a month three years ago to an average of 15 a month now. Door Of Hope is just one of many children’s charities reaching bursting point and are struggling to help all the babies that they receive.

Once the babies have all vaccinations up to date, are fit and healthy and all adoption paperwork is complete the matching begins to find the babies a forever family!! A forever families is a christen family where the babies will receive unconditional love and be given me a second chance at life that they never would have had. I cannot wait to experience adoption day when the volunteers get to be part of a special day when the children meet their new forever families.

Please pray for me! I have to get from Dublin to Heathrow to Johannesburg on my own.

Please also pray that i will get on well with the children and staff. Ive been warned that I will be thrown in at the deep end and I know my heart strings will be pulled every direction. I know i will find it hard to cope with the stories and conditions that some the children will be in so pray that I will have the strength to be able to cope with this.

I am in no doubt that i will miss my friends and family incredibly. Please pray that when i feel lonely or homesick that i will know the closeness of God and settle in well.

Finally I am in awe of all that God has done in getting me to this point. He has been so faithful and answered so many prayers and I cannot wait for this adventure to begin.  Please be in this with me and pray for me, i am so aware that i cannot do this on my own, and can only do it when I fully rely on God.

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