Forever Home

by Alan Yeo . September 23, 2010


Welcome to your home. “I think you will like this home. It is spacious and located in a quiet neighbourhood close to great schools and excellent hospitals. The home has a large yard and the children entrusted into our care will thrive there.”


Most people tend to take “home” for granted. So long as they have a roof over their head, they do not give much thought to it. However, a home is more than just a place we live in. To Ryan and Gerda Audagnotti, home is a “place to laugh, share, learn and belong.” 



Far removed from the laughter is the grim reality of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in South Africa where 575 South African children are orphaned by the disease everyday. These children are often found “abandoned in hospitals, near death in a dumpster, wandering along the highway with their brothers and sisters…living with dogs in the park … huddled together in cardboard boxes in alleys or next to their mother’s dead body.” This was a “tragedy too horrific for the mind to comprehend” for the Audagnottis who were then living in a suburb in Johannesburg, busy with raising their own four children. The plight and despair of these abandoned and HIV/AIDS children greatly moved the Audagnottis.


In early 1998, Ryan and Gerda Audagnotti heeded God’s call to help these children “not just to provide a bowl of food and a blanket” but “to provide each child with hope and a future” and to do for them exactly what they would do for their own children. Converting their personal property into “Acres of Love,” this first home became one of many “Forever Homes” that brought laughter to all the abandoned and HIV-positive babies and children who found a belonging there. The Forever Homes are “located in a carefully selected neighbourhood where the children are distanced from the hopeless poverty from which they were rescued and where they have access to the highest quality medical services and educational facilities.”


At Acres of Love, the word “orphan” no longer applies to the children because they immediately become part of a loving family in a normalised family home with “house parents.” Over its 10 years of operation, Acres has been a heaven to more than 350 infants and children. “Many have been adopted and many others have been placed in long-term foster homes. Some were reunited with their families and sadly a small number died of AIDS.” However, for many of the HIV-positive children who required long term care in Acres, “Forever Homes” remain “a place to dream, a place to be educated, a place to be loved and a place to have fun!”


Although there is no end in sight for the HIV/AIDS pandemic in South Africa, Acres of Love continues to make inroads to bring a future of hope and love to the abandoned children through their eventual goal to establish 1000 “Forever Homes” throughout South Africa. However, Acres can only create and operate these new homes with increased financial support for property acquisitions and the expanded operational needs that come with each new home.


On 4 July 2010, Evangel Family Church collected a love offering for Acres of Love to help with the retrofitting of a new “Forever Home” in Linden. They are now making good progress with the alterations and interior decorations. They have retiled the floors in the home, installed a new kitchen with new stoves and appliances. Both bathrooms were remodelled, repainted inside and outside of the new home and they have also fitted it with new curtains and blinds, furniture and bedding, all ready to be a new home for the children in their care.


We are so glad to have this privilege to partner with Acres of Love in this “Forever Home” project, knowing that we too can all make a difference in the lives of abandoned and HIV-positive children in South Africa, that they have a place of their own - a place that they can forever call “Home.”


There is certainly no place like home!