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YOUR WINDOW TO THE COMMUNITY
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 18, 2012
Abandoned baby in flower pot
A trio of tots: Philippa Williamson with three of the babies she cared for in Johannesburg. A premature girl is tucked
under the blue cloth. The green beanie was knitted by a Palmerston North woman.
By JUDITH LACY
Philippa Williamson had not
looked after a newborn baby
for 21 years but had no
trouble returning to nappies and
Just before Christmas she
returned from six months'
volunteering at Door of Hope
Children's Mission in Johannes-
burg; she says baby care skills came
back to her in a flash.
The mission provides a Christian
home for abandoned, abused and
orphaned babies and works with an
adoption agency to find them per-
manent homes, some in South
Africa, but a lot in Europe.
Mrs Williamson had always
wanted to work in an orphanage
and heard about Door of Hope
through Jessica Hopkins of Bulls,
who spent last year there.
Renting out her Palmerston
North house she was able to fund
her living expenses while in South
She took leave from her two day a
week paid job as Crossroads Church
While she was at the mission one
baby was found in a plastic bag next
to a rubbish bin, another in a flower
In other cases, a mother will give
birth at a hospital and then just
walk away, never to return.
One baby's mother was black and
the father white.
The father did not want to know
and the mother could not take the
pale-skinned boy back to her com-
munity as he would be rejected.
Mrs Williamson, a mother-of-
three, would cry when she heard the
stories of each child but after the
babies had been there a few months
they were happy and healthy, she
Kisses, cuddles, talking, singing
and prayers were key parts of the
Those babies -- when they leave
us, they are just chubby, healthy
Staff would carry a premature
baby who weighed 1.44 kilograms
(3.17 pounds) at birth down the
front of their top to keep her warm,
known as kangarooing.
The mission does not receive gov-
When there are not enough
volunteers, African aunties'' are
Working with another volunteer
Mrs Williamson, 58, would start at
7am, going until 6pm three days on,
one or two days off.
The day just absolutely flies by
but you are absolutely whacked
after 11 hours, 11 hours with 11
She lived in a flat under the
mission house with other
volunteers, for five months with a
19-year-old and a 20-year-old from
They never had a cross word, she
Her strong faith and belief God
sees each baby as precious
We just know that God loves
these wee babies.
We are trying to be his hands
and feet to help him out.''
She worships at Crossroads and
her faith is her whole self''.
It really can't be departmental-
ised, it's my whole life.
Whatever God's plan for me is
my whole life.''
Mrs Williamson had no expec-
tation of seeing South Africa's tour-
However, two Palmerston North
families visiting relatives in South
Africa took her places, as did a
woman who picked her up when she
was carrying her groceries up the
hill to the mission.
I just had so many wonderful
experiences that I didn't antici-
I didn't go over there saying I
havetoseethebiganimals. . .I
was there for the babies.''
While she was homesick for the
first couple of weeks, she never
For her charity work, Philippa
Williamson has been awarded a
Kiwibank Local Hero Medal,
part of the New Zealander of the
She is the administrator for
New Hope Christian Ministries,
volunteering 10 to 20 hours a
week, something she has done
for about 12 years.
Established in 1985 by New
Zealander Roger Dahlberg, who
now lives in the Philippines,
New Hope aims to care for the
abused and abandoned children
Roger Dahlberg should get
the glory but he's so humble, he
won't ever put himself out
there,'' Mrs Williamson said of
Donors sponsor children in
the Philippines, with local
workers ensuring they attend
school and have uniforms and
To date, more than 4300 chil-
dren have been sponsored
through the programme.
With Crossroads Church in
Palmerston North providing the
office space and other volunteers
assisting, the only admini-
stration costs are for telephone
rental and stationery.
New Hope bulk funds projects
in Vietnam, India, Cambodia
and Bangladesh -- such as water
wells; schools (including one for
the children of lepers, who are
not welcome at mainstream
schools); and micro enterprises.
The aim is to meet the food,
educational and medical needs
of children, as well as their spiri-
It's not just slamming them
with the Bible,'' Mrs Williamson
It's total from the word go --
their personal health and
wellbeing and the gospel.''
The Local Hero nomination
says Mrs Williamson just wants
to give, give, give''.
She also visits older people
and new mums in Palmerston
Her husband Lindsay, a
financial planner and account-
ant, died suddenly in 2005, aged
51.Before having her daughters,
Mrs Williamson worked in a
bank for 13 years.
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