The History of Nikki’s Place
Meet Nikki Rideout – the first seed of hope.
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 a government orphanage in Chiang Mai. During her stay at there, Nikki developed various infections and spent time in the hospital.
I was a volunteer at the orphanage and I decided to begin helping in the newly opened section for babies with HIV/AIDS. When I first met Nikki, a strong bond quickly developed between us. From the beginning, I wanted to give this little girl 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 who are unloved or abandoned. One morning, I took Nikki to the main office of the orphanage to speak face-to-face with the Director to ask whether I could take Nikki home to care for her. The Director answered that day, a flat NO, telling me that such a thing was impossible and that a Government orphanage could not grant me permission. So, I asked again! When I did ask again, the answer was…”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 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 symptoms 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.
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 that 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 about taking Nikki home to live. Today, a large portrait of Nikki is prominently displayed at the Agape Home where she is an integral part of daily life. She is a beautiful, vivacious child who continues to be a delight to us all.
We have since adopted Nikki who is now in her teens 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, the same way the Agape children know they are loved and accepted too.
– Avis Rideout, Founder, Nikki’s Place Agape Home