Unwanted babies dumped at hole in wall
HANNAH Earrey always dreamed of working with children.So when the opportunity came to work with some of the most deprived youngsters in the world, the former Copleston High School pupil leapt at the chance.
HANNAH Earrey always dreamed of working with children.
So when the opportunity came to work with some of the most deprived youngsters in the world, the former Copleston High School pupil leapt at the chance. JOSH WARWICK reports on the South African orphanage where unwanted children are pushed through a hole in the wall.
AT only a few weeks old, South African orphan Samuel Mark's short life was cruelly ended when he died due to cot death.
It was a tragedy which left an indelible mark on Ipswich woman Hannah Earrey, currently volunteering in Johannesburg.
This young Ipswich woman had been the closest the tot had ever known to a parent.
For some, the trauma of his death could have been too much and while it rocked the 22-year-old, it also made her realise that her work in a deprived area of the city was absolutely worthwhile.
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“I didn't find out until the evening, but that day I was driving home and got caught in traffic,” she said.
“There was a Christian CD playing, the sun was going down and there were no clouds in the sky. But then I looked again and there was a cloud in the shape of a dove pointing down towards the car.
“And then the song on the CD spoke about looking up and seeing the lord in the clouds. It was amazing.
“When I was in my room in the evening and had heard about Samuel, I remembered what I had seen and thought that maybe it was God preparing me for the news or maybe it was Samuel showing me that he was okay, as a dove symbolises peace.
“It enabled me to draw enormous comfort and carry on.”
Hannah began her volunteering work in South Africa in February - only two weeks after finding out her application to charity Smile International had been successful - and will stay until August.
She said: “The orphanage where I volunteer, has a system where unwanted babies are pushed through a flap in the wall - known as the Door of Hope - before they are collected and looked after by staff.
It is a revolutionary service which has saved hundreds of lives.”
The vision of Door of Hope, created in 1999, is to help meet the needs of abandoned, abused and orphaned children by providing a loving and stable Christian environment.
Around 325 children have been rescued to date and since Hannah started her spell of volunteering, more than 20 babies and young children have come in to the orphanage's care.
Hannah said: “While many have come in, many have gone for adoption which is such a happy thing.
“The babies come to us and are starved and close to death, but when they leave they're strong, happy and ready to be adopted. It's such a wonderful experience to be part of.
“It took me a long time to settle in, but I was so excited at getting to work with the babies which helped. I have found my time here to be amazing.
“There is a high level of crime here which has been upsetting, as is the amount of babies left in our care.
“One six-month-old boy came in but was so tiny that he weighed less than one of our new-borns. Thankfully, he is now doing really well, smiling and laughing all the time.
“We hear stories of babies left at hospitals uncollected, left on rubbish tips and even thrown out of flat windows. In Johannesburg alone, one baby is dumped every day.”
Hannah's mission in South Africa is not the first time she has worked as a volunteer, having spent a Christmas in Kosovo.
And she already has plans to embark on another aid adventure after she returns to Suffolk.
She said: “I'm planning on returning to Johannesburg next year or the year after. I'm also thinking about going to other places too.
“I feel that now I have been to South Africa, I can go anywhere in the world.”
Hannah would like to thank the River of Life church in Felixstowe and her friends and family for making her trip possible.
If you would like to make a financial contribution to Hannah's voluntary work, e-mail her at email@example.com
Hannah's poem read at the memorial service for baby Samuel Mark
My Little Prince Samuel
I can't put into words how much you meant to me, it's hard to accept you've gone your face I'll no longer see,
You've spread your wings and flown away but your presence is forever near, I take comfort in knowing you're in the arms of the Lord, that I need not to fear,
You were my little prince, I longed to hold and touch, to hold you close and whisper “I love you so much”,
I will cherish the first time you looked up at me and smiled, it filled me with joy and happiness so mild,
The short time you were in my life, God's blessings did pour out, filling me with overwhelming love I can now shout - “Thank you for the life of Samuel, hold him close in your hand, for when my day comes I will join him in your land”.
In greater Johannesburg alone, 40 to 50 babies are abandoned every month and left to die of starvation or exposure.
In August 1999 a group of churchgoers installed a "hole in the wall" or "baby bin" in the wall of the Mission Church, where babies can be placed 24 hours a day.
A sensor alerts the people in the house whenever a newcomer has arrived. Staff go to fetch the baby and begin caring for him or her.
However, not all babies come through the "door of hope". Sometimes the police take them or a desperate mother will hand over her baby personally, or hospitals phone the orphanage to pick up little ones, whose mothers have disappeared after the delivery.
If the mother is happy to talk, staff take her to the Commissioner of Child Welfare so she can sign the baby over for adoption. This cuts down on the time the baby has to spend in the orphanage before going for adoption.
Within the first few weeks the babies get their inoculations up to date and by two months of age an adoption medical and blood tests for HIV Syphilis and Hepatitis B.
Then the baby can be available for a family and the matching begins.
By June 2004 the orphanage had helped over 240 babies, about 30 of whom came through the hole in the wall, and well over 50pc went to 'forever families.'