Orphanages around the world are full of children with special needs. Whether due to poverty or intense stigma, many parents feel that they have no option but to place their child with special needs into an orphanage.
orphanages are often at-capacity and low on resources — especially the specialized resources needed to care for a child with medical or special needs.
But every child deserves the medical and special care to be healthy and reach their fullest potential. That’s why we have the Molly Holt Fund. Named after the daughter of Holt’s founders, Molly Holt was a nurse who dedicated her life to caring for children who were sick and had special needs.
Today, Holt donors continue her legacy by helping to give children with special needs in orphanages the medical care, medications, therapies and specialized care they need to grow and thrive.
Here are just some of the most common special needs in orphanages — and the care Holt donors help provide to them:
Thalassemia is when there is an abnormal formation of hemoglobin in the blood, which leads to anemia. There are two types: thalassemia minor and beta thalassemia. Thalassemia is more common in specific regions of the world, including southeast China and India. This condition is inherited and isn’t contagious. Without treatment, beta thalassemia can lead to enlarged organs, jaundice, extreme fatigue, poor appetite, frequent infection, paleness and general body pains. Children with thalassemia in orphanage care will need ongoing medication, and some will also require blood transfusions every 3-4 weeks. Many children with HIV have lost their parents, their families and their community because of HIV/AIDS and the stigma associated with it. In some countries, the stigma surrounding HIV is so strong that children and adults are marginalized from attending good schools, pursuing promising careers or having normal social lives. Many children who are HIV+ in orphanages or group home care have very low viral loads, and their disease is so well controlled with medication that they have normal or near-normal life expectancies. Children with developmental delays in orphanage care need regular medication to control their viral loads, as well as a living environment where they receive the support they need to face the stigma of their disease. Heart conditions can vary widely, from manageable to life-threatening. Children with heart conditions in orphanage care often need medications, regular medical care and evaluations, and sometimes even multiple heart surgeries. Most children with Down syndrome experience mild to moderate learning or cognitive delays. All kids are unique, and will have different strengths, talents and characteristics. Some children with Down syndrome will become fully independent adults and some will need lifelong support. Children with Down syndrome in orphanage care often need inclusive education, early intervention therapies and ongoing medical care — sometimes for a heart condition or seizures. Developmental delays can present in many different ways, often encompass unknowns in a child’s development, and are different for every child. “Developmental delays” is a broad term that can describe anything from late speech to learning disabilities to hitting milestones like crawling or walking later than average. They are usually caused by a lack of one-on-one attention between a child and an adult in the earliest phases of life, and are very common in children who have lived in orphanages. Children with developmental delays in orphanage care will benefit from early intervention, including speech, physical and occupational therapies in addition to other specific resources. Cerebral palsy is a condition that affects the movement of the muscles and is usually caused by neurological damage to the brain that happens to the baby during pregnancy or delivery. It affects every child differently. The effects range from mild, when a child may only require regular physical and occupational therapy, to major, where a child may need additional, lifelong support to be mobile. Generally, children with cerebral palsy have IQs in the typical range but may be at increased risk for learning disabilities. Children with cerebral palsy in orphanage care often need early intervention services for development including medications, inclusive educational environments, mobility support equipment (wheelchairs, walkers, leg braces, etc.) and therapies to help improve speech, movement and mobility. Prenatal alcohol and drug exposure doesn’t always mean that a child will have symptoms — and if they do, symptoms can vary widely and can include both physical and neurological defects. Children with symptoms of alcohol and drug exposure in orphanage care need ongoing therapy and the support of well-trained caregivers to reach their fullest potential. Cleft lips and palatesvary in severity and are more than just a cosmetic condition. Some children will need less intervention than others. Children with a cleft lip and/or palate in orphanage care will require several surgeries, ongoing access to ear and nose doctors, speech therapists, orthodontists and a craniofacial team.
Your gift to the Molly Holt Fund will provide specialized care for children with medical and special needs in orphanages around the world!