Experiencing South Africa - Door of Hope Children's Home

“Door of Hope” is a home for children who are abandoned, without parents or where the parents simply can’t provide for the children financially and/or psychologically. This project gave me the privilege to meet mama Gladys, the woman who started this project. She prefers the term of “children’s home”, instead of orphanage, while it has a more positive tone to it. Also, there are many children there who do still have parents, but whose parents aren’t in the right mind space to take care of them either at the moment or ever again.

Most of the children have been here since they were babies. Mama Gladys is not only their role model but also a real mother figure to them. They grew up and got used to having only her and each other to depend on, which created a real family. This was clearly visible when I went to visit the project. This is also the reason that the children are not put up for adoption. They are attached to mama Gladys and each other. Only new born babies who are brought in, are put up for adoption, because they simply don’t have space anymore in the house.

These children have touched my heart during this day. They are very special while they are wise beyond their years. I don’t know their personal backgrounds, but I know that each of them has had a hard time in life. They weren’t dealt the best cards, but mama Gladys was the best thing that could have happened to them, under her moto that “Every child matters”. Another thing I love about these children is that they are extremely affectionate. They crave your attention, your approval and your love.

 

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It is impossible to not love mama Gladys. She truly is an angel on Earth. She sacrificed her own life to give these children a loving home, however with 30 children in the house they need all the help they can get from volunteers. Zoe one of the volunteers mostly starts the day with helping them to make their beds, give them baths and help the youngest ones get dressed. The rest of the day is mostly about giving them attention and playing with them. When I was there we also took the kids to the park. Zoe is a great fit here, because she has a passion for what she does.  

One day with mama Gladys or even 5 minutes, can leave a lasting impression and a different perspective, but most of all I was struck with tons of admiration. It is easy to think that while they receive donations for food and clothes, the work is done, but mama Gladys works long days to get them into schools and have degrees, because these children are not an 18 year burden for her, they are connected to mama Gladys for a life time. This is why there are also older boys and girls still living there since mama Gladys opened her home to them as babies. Nowadays they are attending university. She helps them to set up a stable life and they are welcome to stay as long as they want.

 

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At the moment mama Gladys is also looking for psychological help for the children, while even though they sing all day long and seem so happy, children who were brought in at an older age, often do struggle with themselves. These children mostly had parents with addictions or were abused by family members. They have made a lot of progress since they were brought to this home but their past did leave scars, even if apart from maturity it isn’t always visible. In mama Gladys they found someone who understands them, while she has been through a similar and very difficult childhood as well. The children are often not believed by local authorities when they say they have been abused, but she believes these children and believes in them. She wants to give them a voice. 

I just love this project and adore mama Gladys and these children so much. I had an amazing time here.  I can honestly say that for me personally this was one of my most enjoyable days working at a project, because these children have given me so much love and happiness and mama Gladys has so many life lessons to give. Her work has a big impact and she’s making this world and my view on humanity just that much better.

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