Couple feel ‘called’ to run reopened baby home

Less than two months since it closed for renovations, Breath of Life place of safety for abandoned and unwanted babies re-opened yesterday with new house parents at its helm.

LOVE: Breath of Life has re-opened with new house parents, from left, Andrew and Michelle Rielly and caregiver Elizabeth Mvuyane Picture: BARBARA HOLLANDS

Estate agents Michelle and Andrew Rielly have stepped into the role after former house parents Elaine and Dirk Brenkman left to establish the Guardian of Hope place of safety in Bonnie Doone.

The couple, who heard about the opening at Stirling Baptist Church – which operates the home via The Restore Trust NPO – said they both felt a “calling” to ensure babies received a healthy, loving and safe environment until they were adopted.

“We were doing a show house on the afternoon that the call went out and we both had the same feeling that we should do this,” said Michelle.

“I realised what a big responsibility this was when I was told the babies are put under my name as their legal guardian until they are adopted, but now I can’t wait for the babies to arrive.”

The last three babies at the home moved with Brenkman to Guardians of Hope, leaving a gap for the necessary renovations to be done.

The couple set about renovating the double-storey Dawson Road house in Selborne to better define the space between the living area they share with their three daughters, Jazmyn, 15, Lilly-Ann, nine, and Alex-Rose, seven, and the babycare area.

The family moved out of their Berea home and have taken up residence in the house, along with their three cats, and are looking forward to the arrival of the first babies, which will stay at Breath of Life until they find “forever homes”.

They have repositioned and painted rooms and added an adjoining room for caregivers and a comfortable corner for volunteers, and now the bright nursery with its six little cots is ready for its tiny residents.

“We know of two mothers who are pregnant with babies they want to have adopted,” explained Andrew.

“One birth is imminent and the other is due in two or three weeks, and we are waiting for Child Welfare to place other babies with us.”

The home’s fresh new look was launched on Sunday when donors, sponsors, volunteers and church elders got to meet the Riellys, who are supported by eight caregivers who take turns to care for the babies 24/7.

And, when the babies depart in the loving arms of their new parents, they will have a journal of the first months of their child’s life courtesy of Michelle, an avid scrapbooker.

When the Daily Dispatch visited Breath of Life yesterday, caregiver Elizabeth Mvuyane was dusting every surface until it gleamed.

“I want to share my love with them,” she said. — barbarah@dispatch.co.za

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