Eugene, OR — After over four decades of advocating for orphaned and vulnerable children, Holt International’s Susan Soonkeum Cox will retire at the end of December. Cox, who is Vice President of Policy and External Affairs, was elected to the Holt International Board of Directors in 1976 as the board’s first adoptee, and in 1984 joined Holt’s staff as Director of Development. Continue reading “Holt VP Susan Cox Retires After Four Decades”
Meet Jean and Krista! Thirteen-year-old Jean and her eleven-year-old sister, Krista need an adoptive family.
Jean is an extroverted girl who loves to learn about history, human rights and geography. In her free time, Jean likes to skate, play and read history or geography books. She would describe herself in three words as easygoing, intelligent and loving. She says her favorite activities are learning new things and studying.
Krista is an affectionate and social girl who loves school. Her favorite subject is math! She enjoys reading, dancing, movies and playing outdoors with her sister and her friends. Krista loves animals and would like to have a cat someday. She would describe herself in three worlds as loving, organized and responsible.
Jean and Krista understand adoption and dream of joining a family together. The two sisters have some developmental needs and need an adoptive family with a strong understanding of, or willingness to learn about, older child adoption and Trust-Based Relational Parenting (TBRI) methods.
Anjum knows how hard it is to be an uneducated woman in India. Because that’s her mother’s story.
Anjum’s father died four years ago, leaving her mother to raise Anjum and her four younger siblings. But Anjum’s mother can’t even read or write.
Anjum and her siblings didn’t go to school. They couldn’t afford it. Thankfully, three years ago Holt donors started paying for them all to attend school.
But then, Anjum became in danger of dropping out again.
Three Years Ago…
When we first met Anjum, her deep, dark eyes were some of the saddest we’d ever seen.
They contrasted starkly with her youthful face and her vibrant yellow sari. But she had good reason to look so sad. The past year had been the most difficult of her life.
Anjum’s father’s job had been a dangerous one. He was a river diver. In the Yamuna, the most polluted river in all of India, he dove below the surface to collect metals — copper, silver, gold if he was lucky. But one day, his foot got caught and he drowned.
The family — Anjum, her mother, her sister and two little brothers — continued to live in a disheveled, makeshift home on the banks of the river. Their living environment was so polluted that Anjum and her siblings contracted typhoid.
Despite her grief over losing her husband, Anjum’s mother, Shabnam, knew she’d have to find a way to provide for her children. They needed food, clean water, education and a safer place to live. But on her own, achieving this would be nearly impossible.
Because she was illiterate.
Life as an Uneducated Woman in India
Without the ability to read or write, how would Shabnam find a job that could support her children? Shabnam was a widow, a mother of five, and lived in a Muslim community that had very traditional and restrictive views on women. There were very few opportunities for her to find work outside the home.
But Shabnam’s situation is heartbreakingly common. Many women in India are uneducated.
Walking through the slum neighborhood near their home, Holt social workers — educated women themselves — are often asked by illiterate mothers for help.
“Can you read my child’s homework instructions?” “Can you read this package?” “How much of this cold medicine does my child need?”
When you can’t read, even the most ordinary tasks become difficult.
Holt Donors as a Safety Net
Thankfully, for Shabnam and her family there was a safety net — Holt donors. Anjum connected with Holt’s local partner organization in Delhi, and they began to give her the help she needed to care for her children. Soon, all of their greatest needs were met.
They moved to a safer building, got medical care, and the children began going to school.
Anjum’s eyes, once grief-stricken and despondent, lit up when we placed a stack of school supplies in her hand — her very own paper and pencils and even a compass for math.
Anjum proudly stated, “I want to be a teacher.”
And now that she was going to school herself, this bright future was possible.
But three years later, at the beginning of this last school year, Anjum’s dream was once again threatened…
Forced to Drop Out of School
Now 16 years old, Shabnam had been thriving in school for several years. She only had two years of high school left before she hoped to go to a university. But when back-to-school time came in October, she feared she would have to drop out…
Anjum just completed tenth grade, which is as far as her current school went. She would have to be admitted to a different school for eleventh and twelfth grade in order to finish her education.
The process was simple. She just needed a certificate of admission from her old school in order to enroll in her new one. But they wouldn’t give her the certificate.
“Her mother visited the school many times to get the certificate, but the principle refused to meet her,” says a social worker from Holt’s partner organization in Delhi. “Despite multiple efforts, she could not get her certificate. The school authorities were deliberately pushing her away from regular schooling.”
The exact reason for this is unclear. But there are many possibilities: Anjum’s family lives in poverty, she has no father, they are Muslim, her mother is uneducated… These are all reasons that a school may have denied her readmittance.
Though she tried, Shabnam could do nothing about it. Anjum began to feel hopeless.
They needed an advocate. Anjum’s education and future depended on it.
And thankfully they had one. Holt’s partner organization jumped into action on their behalf.
“We took out time to visit the school and work with the school to arrange for the required documentation,” their social worker says.
Though it took some time, they were successful.
Anjum received the certificate she needed and enrolled into her new high school. Here’s she’ll attend and study for two more years before going to university.
“Anjum’s fear [of being uneducated] almost become a reality,” says SSG. But now she is super happy and excited to get back to a normal routine of school life!”
Thanks to Holt’s donors and their on-the-ground advocates in India, Shabnam is surviving as an educated woman in India. Life is difficult, but her children’s are receiving the food, safe living situation and education that they need.
But after she graduates, Anjum’s life will be different than her mother’s.
She’ll be able to advocate for herself in a way that her mother cannot. She can work as a teacher or in another profession and earn an income to be self-sufficient. She’ll be able to take care of her mother and her future family.
All because she will be an educated woman in India.
Ten-year-old Tallen and his nine-year-old sister, Pearle, are waiting for a family! Tallen and Pearle need an adoptive family that is loving and secure.
Pearle and Tallen do not currently live together and they miss each other very much. They would like to be reunited again with a loving, adoptive family. Both children are described as happy and friendly. They both dream of becoming teachers when they grow up.
Pearle’s favorite activities are painting and drawing and can make origami butterflies and hearts. She can be shy or quiet at first, but opens up when she is around her friends! When asked what she would do with three wishes, she says she would ask for toys, snacks and colors.
Tallen is said to be patient, determined and motivated. He is a leader with younger children. His caregivers say he is obedient, follows the rules and is respectful.
Tallen and Pearle each have some special needs including delays and a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Both Tallen and Pearle take medication on a daily basis to help manage their symptoms. Tallen and Pearle need an adoptive family who has excellent educational resources.
Holt staff have met these children and have many photos and videos that illustrate their sweet personalities and joyful smiles. Tallen and Pearle’s faces are hidden here due to country restrictions on privacy. To see photos and videos and learn more about them, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Just in time, Taci received a gift that allowed her to continue her education.
Taci was about to drop out of school.
At fourteen years old, Taci and was grateful for the education she had had so far. Because her family sacrificed a lot for it.
After her father died several years ago, Taci’s older brother and mother stepped up to make money for their family. They were doing well. They ate nutritious meals every day, and Taci and her two sisters got to go to school. But then her brother got sick.
He was so sick that he couldn’t work anymore. This left their mother as the sole earner for their family. She worked hard selling vegetables, but didn’t make enough. They began cutting back on how much food they ate, trying desperately to save money. But before long, they were going hungry.
Girls in India and around the world fight gender discrimination, poverty and child marriage to attend school. That’s why we’re sending girls to school this Giving Tuesday.
Girls walk out of their classrooms and gather in the school courtyard. Their school uniforms are dark and light blue — a button-up kurta, loose light-blue pants, and a scarf that trails behind their shoulders. Most have their hair pulled tightly up into braids or pigtails that fall on either side of their head. The girls are chatty and excited. Final exams just ended, and they’re done for the day.
The scene seems ordinary, like the end of a school day you’d see anywhere. But for these girls, in this place, going to school is anything but ordinary. It’s remarkable that so many of them are here. Because it’s not easy for girls to get an education in India.
Holt donors gave one girl in India the food she needed to overcome malnutrition.
All 2-year-old Chaitali ate all day was one small, half-full bowl of rice. She was hungry, too small for her age and desperately needed more food. But many days there was nothing more to eat… Continue reading “Hungry No More!”
An interview with Glady Bunau, executive director of Holt’s long-time partner in the Philippines, Kaisahang Buhay Foundation (KBF). Glady shares how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is affecting children and families in the Philippines — and how sponsors and donors are meeting their most urgent needs.
How is the pandemic currently affecting sponsored children and their families in the Philippines?
It’s been almost two years since strict quarantine measures have been imposed in the Philippines. Families are encouraged to limit going out from their houses unless necessary. Children are not allowed to go out as part of the government’s measure to protect them from being infected by COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic has uniquely affected children and families; their routines were disrupted, children missed being in school, children’s recreational activities outside their home became so controlled and limited. All family members adjusted to what we call the “new normal.” Continue reading “COVID-19 in the Philippines: How the Pandemic is Affecting Sponsored Children and Families”