Home' Nova West : April 2010 Contents Orphans and Angels
6 © NOVA APRIL 2010
During the 1930s and 1940s, my
parents helped in the running
of the South Melbourne Mission
in Market Street. At that time,
South Melbourne was a slum area. Families
were unable to feed and clothe their
children. Fathers, husbands and brothers
had become victims to two world wars,
making dire situations even worse.
I particularly remember Christmas
time at the mission. Determined to give
the children a memorable Christmas,
my parents canvassed city businesses
for donations, food, clothing and toys.
Cigarettes were even donated for parents
of the children by WD Wills. Mum sat up
A very special
offering a future
to a group of
their story and a
little of her own
until midnight for weeks, sewing clothes
for the gifts of celluloid dolls, including tiny
shoes from scraps of soft leather donated
by Goodchild's Shoe Factory. She sewed
floral frocks for every little girl so that they
could dress up for the mission Christmas
party. When the day arrived, toys were
distributed by a chuckling Santa Claus
(Dad) and Mum led the singing as we
stood in a circle clutching flickering
candles belting out "All Things Bright and
I always suspected that my father's
dedication and drive may have stemmed
from the fact that he spent years of his
own childhood in a Melbourne orphanage.
Memories of heartfelt warmth mixed with
inexplicable sadness associated with those
underprivileged children, many of whom
Mum and Dad brought home for visits,
have stayed with me all my life. Decades
have passed but never again had I
encountered anything like the spirit of
that mission. Well, not until the end of last
year when I had the privilege of visiting
a Balinese orphanage and meeting its
founder and guiding light, an angel called
English-born Alison, now an Indonesian
citizen, and her Javanese husband Yanto
named their orphanage after Jodie O'Shea,
a young Australian woman who died as a
result of the Bali bombings. Alison visited
Jodie and other victims in hospital after the
bombings and was deeply moved by Jodie's
courage, dignity and strength, explaining
that she and her husband named their
orphanage after Jodie as a reminder that
out of the most tragic events, truly
wonderful acts of humanitarianism can
"Since 2005, when we opened our
orphanage, the children have undergone
an amazing transformation. All of them
arrived here malnourished, not all of them
orphans. Their parents were simply unable
to feed and clothe them. The decision to
send them to an orphanage to provide them
with a better life must have been a difficult
and heartbreaking one," says Alison.
Initially, many of the families had
entrusted their children to an orphanage
that subjected them to severe physical,
mental and emotional abuse, including the
administration of electric shocks. Alison's
orphanage began after she and Yanto chose
to give money and time to the corrupt one,
not realising at first that the children were
being abused and the monetary donations
embezzled. When they found out, they put
a plan into place to save 15 of the children,
taking them into their own home until,
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