Tuesday, March 15, 2005

SPONSOR A CHILD



You can change a Childs world through sponsorship. This program connects you with the child in a loving relationship that will change his or her life and yours! You can exchange photos letters and prayers and together learn more about Jesus and provide great opportunities that life can offer. To sponsor a child, please contact us at agape@nikkisplace.org and we will be very happy to assist you in sponsoring a child.

THE NEED



The magnitude of the HIV/AIDS problem in Thailand is significant. Since 1988, when the first cases of HIV/AIDS were detected, the epidemic has spread across the Thai population, including into the general population of women of childbearing age. In fact, current estimates are that 23,000 of the one million annual births in Thailand will occur to HIV positive women. The problem is even more acute in the northern region of Thailand where the proportion of HIV/AIDS cases is highest. In the north, it is estimated that 6% to 10% of the women in hospital to deliver children are HIV positive.

Children born to HIV positive mothers are exposed to infection during pregnancy, through delivery, and post delivery via breast-feeding. While there are known ways to reduce the risk of infection for these children, suffice it to say that until the risk is nonexistent, the number of children born at risk of infection remains too high. Further, children born to HIV positive parents remain at risk of abandonment as well. Ideally, all children who lose their parents should be cared for by relatives or caring neighbours. However, the reality is that there is not always sufficient family and/or community support to ensure that these children can stay in their own environment. As such, since opening the Agape Home in 1996, the number of children who are in need of a loving and caring home has not abated.

INTRODUCTION



The Agape Home opened its doors in May 1996 in response to the plight of children impacted by the spread of HIV/AIDS in Thailand. The Agape Home seeks to provide a loving, caring home for orphaned or relinquished children with or at risk of having HIV/AIDS. Founded by Canadian missionary Avis Rideout and her husband Roy, since opening, the Agape Home has provided love and care to one hundred and thirty four children aged birth to adolescent. There are currently sixty children at the home.

Nikki's Story


Born Nov. 6, 1992 at the local hospital in Uthaithani province, Thailand, Nikki was subsequently abandoned at the hospital by her parents. Sometime later, having tested HIV+, she was transferred to the Vieng Ping Babies Home, a government orphanage in Chiang Mai. During her stay at the Home, Nikki developed various infections and spent time in the hospital on more than one occasion. Considering her beyond help, the doctor wrote in her chart, “leave her to die.” But Nikki survived and was returned to the orphanage.

Having for sometime been a volunteer at the Vieng Ping Babies Home, I decided to begin helping in the newly opened section for babies with HIV/AIDS. There I first met Nikki, at that time known as Jarawee, and a strong bond was soon established between us. From the beginning, I wanted to give this little girl, who loved to sit on my lap, the kind of love and care that she could only receive in a family.

Before I asked for permission to take Nikki home from the orphanage, I promised God that if He would give me one seed, Nikki, I would open a home for babies that are unloved, not cared for and abandoned. I knew that if God would give me this seed, then 100% I would keep my promise. On the morning that I took Nikki to the main office to speak face-to-face with the Director of the Government Orphanage, I intended to ask if I could take Nikki home with my family to care for her, knowing that she was full-blown AIDS, from the human side, and not likely to live much longer. The Director answered that day, a flat NO, telling me that such a thing was impossible and that a Government orphanage could not grant permission to me to take Nikki home to live. So, I asked again! When I did ask again, the answer was…”Avis, you are always asking for something difficult!” But then she said that I could take Nikki home for the day, and take a photograph of her with my family. She then promised to take the pictures to the child welfare committee responsible for the children, and seek permission for Nikki to stay with our family.

That day, I took Nikki home and we took the photos. However, at the end of the day, I took the photos back to the orphanage, but not Nikki! She stayed with us, and has been with us ever since. Within a few days, I had a telephone call from the Director with the wonderful news that the child welfare committee had granted us permission to take Nikki in as our foster child, and care for her for as long as she lived. The Director also said please do not ask to adopt her---it is impossible for you to adopt a child with AIDS!

When Nikki first came home with us, she was quite ill. She had many of the hallmark infections associated with AIDS including diarrhea, ear infections, nosebleeds, and an enlarged liver and spleen. Nikki also had had a large cyst removed from the side of her head near the temple, so she was almost bald. Nikki was not chosen because she looked beautiful, but because it was all in the plans of God. When we make a promise to God, we need not worry about God keeping His promise to us. It is sure to happen. That is why we have the Agape Home today. Nikki’s seed has spread from country to country, lives have been touched by the power of love that people feel and see at the Agape Home.

Nikki’s life has also made a difference in the lives of the Thai people. They can see how we love and care for children with HIV/AIDS at the Agape Home, and can see them living and doing things with children who do not have this disease. Indeed, the Agape Home, which was officially opened on May 3, 1996, is the result of the promise I made to God when I first approached the Director of Vieng Ping about taking Nikki home to live. Today, a large portrait of Nikki is prominently displayed at Agape Home where she is an integral part of all special events and celebrations. She is a beautiful, vivacious child who continues to be a delight to us all.

We have since adopted Nikki who is now 12 and still in excellent health. Nikki was brought back to health and back to life with love and good care. She knows she is loved and accepted into our family. Love is powerful.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

New Addition

We welcome to Agape Family our new volunteers Barbara Matassa, Sandy Papineau and Judy Cook. We are indeed blessed to have these wonderful people join our team to care for our children. Sandy will oversee our Mother and Baby Unit and our Project Leck operations. Judy will be our second nurse to help us care for our sick children. Barbara will be joining our team of caretakers to give love and care for our toddlers.