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Jun 21, 2012

The Gate of Hope

The former "Gate of Hope" at Victoria St, Singapore (front)
Location of the "Gate of Hope" at the corner of CHIJMES, junction of Victoria St and Bras Basah Rd

The Gate of Hope

At this small gate of the former Convent Of The Holy Infant Jesus (CHIJ), many babies were abandoned in baskets to be picked by the Sisters of the Convent.  This was the origin of the Home for Abandoned Babies.

For over 100 years, the orphanage was home to children from poor or broken families as well as unwanted babies.  The orphanage too in many Chinese baby girls born in the year of the tiger - "tiger girls" - because of the strong superstitious belief then, that they would bring bad luck to their families.

In 1968, the Mother Superior noted that this practice was stopped as there was a marked changed in this superstitious belief.

The Home for Abandoned Babies ceased functioning in 1983 when the CHIJ was relocated.

The CHIJ was founded in 1854 in Singapore by the French Catholic missionary, Father Jean Marie Beurel.

The information poster engraved in stone placed and the above-mentioned plaque which was placed at the sideof both the front and back of the gate.


These photos were taken by me at "The Gate of Hope" on June 17, 2012.

The selected archived photos and descriptions on the public domain are curated from the National Archives of Singapore (NAS) with credit, acknowledgement of thanks and posted for the purpose of collective memories on this personal blog for sharing with nostalgia friends.

The "Gate of Hope" at Victoria St  c  1910

The "Gate of Hope" at Victoria St  c  1911


View of Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus (CHIJ), located at corner of Bras Basah Road and Victoria Street and thus affectionately called "Town Convent", featuring the Gate of Hope (small gate on left), Caldwell House and Chapel. Babies were often left at the Gate of Hope to be picked up by Sisters of the convent which was both an orphanage and a school for girls.

The "Gate of Hope" at Victoria St  c  1945

 The "Gate of Hope" was unveiled by Brigadier-General (NS) George Yong Boon Yeo, Minister for Information and the Arts and Minister for Health on September 25, 1996 (refer to photo of the plaque above)


The CHIJ Orphanage in 1920s



CHIJ students taking care of the abandoned children in 1961

Normal, healthy children being cared for by the Sisters of the Infant Jesus at Convent of Holy Infant Jesus in 1959.

The "Gate of Hope" administered by the French Catholic missionary nuns a century ago in Singapore at the ophanage to revive the lives of the abandoned children with love, regardless of their ethnic group or gender at birth.

There were orphanages of the various religious groups in the mosques, temples, churches, synagogues, gurdwaras and other non-religion voluntary organisations in multi-racial, multi-religious Singapore.

As mentioned by Mother Superior in 1968, "the orphanage in many Chinese baby girls born in the year of the tiger - "tiger girls" - because of the strong superstitious belief then, that they would bring bad luck to their families".

"In 1968, the Mother Superior noted that this practice was stopped as there was a marked changed in this superstitious belief".

Many abandoned children in the past era in Singapore had been thrown away as "nobody's child" even though they may be normal, healthy children at birth. Fortunately, the better educated Singaporeans did not abandon baby girls born in the "Year of the Tiger" due to ignorance and superstitions in the olden days.

Related Blog

"Yesterday...Today...Tomorrow" blog on Home for Abandoned Babies .

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2 Comments:

Blogger mengfoo choo said...

Amazing historical record. Keep up the great work.

June 23, 2012 at 9:43 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Thank you for your encouragement, Meng Foo. I appreciate the artistic masterpieces which you have great contributions to the Arts in Singapore for many more years to share with all of us. Cheers!

October 8, 2012 at 8:21 PM  

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