CHIJMES, presently known to many as a former girl’s school transformed into a place comprising of fine-dining restaurants and buildings with its Gothic-spire chapel and neo-classical designs popular for bridal photography. Her rich history goes all the way back to 1854 when missionaries led by Reverend Mother Mathilde Raclot, with four other IJ Sisters came ashore to Singapore to build the foundation of a girl’s school. Known as the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus (CHIJ), the school was established to provide education to girls especially from poorer backgrounds regardless of their religion or ethnicity. Girls should not be left out without the opportunity of an education. In the olden days, boys were thought to have greater economic value over girls. For poor families with so many mouths to feed, a baby girl would be the likely choice to reduce the family financial burden where the infant girl would be left at the gate of the convent in the darkness of night. Upon opening the gate every morning and seeing an abandoned baby girl left there, the Sister will take in the orphaned child to be care and raised. An orphanage “Convent Orphanage and Home for Abandoned Babies” was set up within the convent walls to look after these orphans. The spot where the abandoned infants were left is known as the “Gate of Hope” located at the junction of Victoria Street and Bras Basah Road.
In 1983 when the government acquired the land, the school was relocated to her present premises now known as CHIJ (Toa Payoh) and CHIJ (St Nicholas Girl’s School). Consequently, the orphanage was also relocated to an adjacent building next to CHIJ (St Nicholas Girl’s School).
Over the years, the abandoned babies at the “Gate of Hope”, have grew up, educated by the Sisters on the academics and life’s values at the orphanage, and had continued with their life’s journey.
At present, there remains four elderly ladies residing at IJ Village who had been lovingly cared for by the IJ Sisters since they were babies at the convent orphanage. With the help of two caregivers and a group of dedicated volunteers, these elderly ladies regularly participate in social activities that encourage them to age gracefully in their golden years.
To find out more about how you can volunteer your time for the Elderly, please contact us at the following.
Tel: (65) 6459 4801