2020 Year-End Top Priority: Children in Orphanages Due to COVID-19

Orphanages are overwhelmed with children due to COVID-19 — children like 13-year-old Cam in Vietnam. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Holt orphanage partners all around the world have reached out to Holt — sharing that more and more children were coming into their care. And the reason may surprise you. It’s not because of parents’ death or illness due to COVID-19, but because of poverty. The type of poverty that makes you unable to feed your children.

Cam, 13, was placed in an orphanage a few months ago.

The type of poverty that forces you to make the heart-wrenching decision to place your child in an orphanage.

The type of poverty experienced by 13-year-old Cam and her family.

Cam’s Story

When the first wave of COVID-19 hit Vietnam in May, Cam and her family were already in crisis. For years, Cam, her mother and siblings had experienced domestic violence at the hand of Cam’s father, and then her stepfather. Finally, her stepfather left. But that meant they had to survive on just their mother’s income.

Cam (left) with her mom and younger brother.

Even before Cam’s stepfather left, she was facing difficulties. She stopped going to school in January because she had trouble learning. And not only did her mom, Arunny, have to provide for Cam and her 10- and 14-year-old brothers, she was pregnant and due with another baby in September. They live in a shelter they built from pieces of wood, cardboard and stained sheets.

In desperation, Arunny made the only choice she felt she had. Unable to feed and provide for all of her children, she made a heartbreaking decision. She sent Cam to live in an orphanage.

Their entire income comes from recyclables that Arunny collects and sells. But this income came to a sudden halt when the country first locked down due to the pandemic.

“She could not go out in daytime, but just sneakily collect the recyclable materials dumped in the trash in the evening,” says Hang Dam, country director for Holt Vietnam. “Suddenly, she was struggling to provide her children with daily food.”

Holt staff delivered emergency food to Cam and her family early on in the pandemic.

In the spring, Cam and her family received emergency food from Holt, essentials like rice, salt, sugar, oil, instant noodles, canned pork and more. This helped them get by for several more months.

Life got slightly better. But then a second wave of COVID-19 hit Vietnam in July and everything locked down for a second time.

Once again, Cam’s mother couldn’t work and they had zero income. But this time it happened just a month before the new baby would be born.

Once her new baby was born, Arunny couldn’t care for all of her children. She felt forced to send her older daughter, Cam, to live in an orphanage.

In desperation, Arunny made the only choice she felt she had. Unable to feed and provide for all of her children, she made a heartbreaking decision. She sent Cam to live in an orphanage.

At least in the orphanage, she thought, my daughter will get enough food.

A Global Orphanage Crisis

Throughout Vietnam and all around the world, parents have felt forced to make the same decision as Cam’s mom. Because of the pandemic, more and more children have been placed in orphanages.

But with limited funds, Holt’s orphanage partners can’t afford to meet the needs of all these children. Facilities are low on essentials like food, clothing, masks and sanitizers. Orphanage staff don’t know how they’ll  keep Cam and children like her safe and healthy while in care. Orphanages also don’t have enough caregivers to give the children the care and attention they desperately need.

How You Can Help:

When you give to the President’s Top Priority Fund Campaign for Children 2020, you will help provide the following (and more) to children in orphanages and children in need all around the world:

  • Food, clothing and medicine
  • Masks, disinfectant and other COVID-19 supplies
  • More caregivers to take care of the increasing number of children
  • Support to reunify children with their birth families and strengthen families to independently care for their children

With your help this year-end, Cam and children like her around the world will get the care they need, and be reunited with their loving families as soon as possible.

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