Plight of orphans now a life mission

EYES OPENED: Julie Mallinson, at her home in Corlette. Picture: Stephen Wark
EYES OPENED: Julie Mallinson, at her home in Corlette. Picture: Stephen Wark

FOR the past five years, two Corlette doctors have dedicated their lives to helping some of the world's most disadvantaged children, and now Port Stephens residents have a chance to help.

Julie Mallinson and Sam Vidler started Elim Kids after working in orphanages in China in 2008.

"I think we expected to see what most people expect - baby girls abandoned because of the one child policy. But we discovered most children are abandoned because of disability - spina bifida, cerebral palsy - basically any disability," Ms Mallinson said.

The couple were particularly struck by the plight of the more than 100,000 orphaned children estimated to have HIV. In China they are essentially banned from public orphanages and have little chance of adoption because of stigma and fear of the virus.

What began as a one-year trip extended to three, the foundation becoming a driving force in the couple's lives.

Elim Kids has set up a home for orphans with the virus and aims to find foster families for them, as well as providing medication and support for families with children who also suffer from HIV.

"The medication is free through the World Health Organisation, but all the other medicine, X-rays, blood tests, antibiotics, we pay for," she said.

"Some of the money goes to health care and education for kids who aren't orphans."

The couple are hosting a shopping trip later in the year, hoping to raise money to support their work.

The event is planned for Saturday October 12, and will include visits to Birkenhead Point and Ikea.

Cost is $40 per person which includes a light breakfast on the bus, with RSVPs needed by next Thursday, September 12.

The bus will depart from Port Stephens Coaches at 6am.

Ms Mallinson has also written a book, A Pearl from Ashes, about the couple's experiences setting up the foundation and adopting their own daughter.