Holt President and CEO Phil Littleton just returned from a trip to Holt’s programs for children and families in Ethiopia. Here, he blogs about his visit to a few of our partnering care centers in country.
Tuesday, Oct 15 — Today, we will be visiting three orphanages supported by Holt. You never really quite know what to expect when you enter an orphanage. Will the children be older? Are there many infants, recently abandoned? Are the children sick, or in good health?
I asked Holt’s country representative, Tamarat, if these were good orphanages that we would be visiting. He said, “Yes, very good orphanages, but still an orphanage.” That comment stuck in my mind. It is so true — an orphanage can be well run and provide good care, but it’s still an orphanage.
Children do not belong in orphanages… That is not where they should grow up.
Unfortunately, in our broken world, orphanages are a way of life in many countries. At Holt, we believe in trying every day to get kids out of orphanages — in finding a way to get children back with their birth families. In the meantime, we strive to place them in the loving care of a family in their community, through foster care. And when reuniting a child with their extended birth family is not possible, we turn to international adoption.
On this day, I met a little 3-year-old named Mashukan. When I walked into the room, she put her arms out to me as if to say, ‘Please pick me up.’ Once in my arms, she just wanted me to take her wherever she pointed. So I did.
She was one of the healthy ones — a beautiful little girl, needing someone to pick her up out of the crib. My thought was, ‘We have to find a way to get this little girl into a home.’
By the end of the day, we visited three very good orphanages, and I am proud of our work and dedicated staff and partners here in Ethiopia. But I’m also reminded that, at the end of the day… it’s still an orphanage.