A door is simply a passage into a house or room. Victoria Street had a little gate, which symbolized more. It was a gateway of hope. Many abandoned newborns who had survived until the morning before the Sisters arrived were given a second chance. It was the Gateway of Hope.
The Gate of Hope was a tiny side gate at the former Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus (CHIJ) site. It is the oldest of Singapore’s 11 CHIJ schools, having been founded in 1854. It was formerly known as the Town Convent or the French Convent to distinguish it from the Portuguese Convent down the street.
From 1854 to the 1970s, a portion of the school campus served as a Convent Orphanage. Many children from poor or broken homes were accepted into the orphanage. The Sisters of Charity took in abandoned children after the gate was opened, which meant many were discovered left outside by the sisters in the morning. The establishment of the Home for Abandoned Babies dates back to the 1970s.
In 1995, the Infant Jesus Homes and Children’s Centres were formed as a subsidiary of the Convent Orphanage and Home for Abandoned Babies. Today, after CHIJ departed Victoria Street in 1983, the residences and centres continue to help low-income families and youngsters from all around the city.
The gate has been kept as part of the CHIJMES complex. For many, it was a second chance in life. It might seem to be a plain side gate, but for others, it was their fresh start. It was the Gate of Hope.