This International Women’s Day, March 8, is a day to celebrate women and girls everywhere — to empower them to rise above gender-based discrimination, lift themselves from poverty and pursue their dreams.
Empowering women and girls is work that Holt donors support every day.
Here are just some of the amazing women and girls whose lives you are changing!
When Diana got pregnant at 17, she thought her dreams — and her dreams for her children — were over. She hoped to finish her high school studies, but with limited resources and no outside help or support, all her time and energy went toward caring for her newborn daughter. And within a couple of years, she was pregnant again.
Then she discovered Holt’s partner program in Colombia, offering services like free, sponsor-supported daycare where children receive critical early education and a safe place to go while their parents work or finish school during the day. With this extra help, Diana learned that she could study to graduate from high school.
Although continuing her education is a personal dream, since having children, it has also become bigger than that — it’s also about giving her children the best future possible.
“I would love to give them everything, that’s why I want to study, prepare myself,” Diana says. “So, they will have a better quality of life. I would give them the world. I want them to study, to have a career...to be somebody in life.” By becoming educated herself, she is giving her kids her “best example.”
“Why do they want to let the children to study?” says Payal, her dark brown eyes perplexed.
“Especially girls…?” Mayvis adds hesitantly. Payal, Sanjana, Manixa and Mayvis sit in their classroom in Bengaluru, India. As young teenage girls living in a society in which they’d traditionally already be married at this point, they are grateful to be here.
Young girls in India, and around the world, are often married early when their family lives in poverty — when they can’t afford another mouth to feed. Her childhood ripped away from her, she drops out of school. She is now susceptible to continued poverty and nearly every form of abuse.
“That is called a bal vivah,” Sanjana says, the Hindi word for child marriage. “We should not do this.”
But the most powerful tool to keep this from happening is exactly what these girls are receiving right now — an education.
Payal, Sanjana, Manixa and Mayvis are just four of the over 1,000 girls Holt donors help go to school in Bengaluru, India. Through the gift of a one-year scholarship for girls who are most at risk of dropping out, the cost of their school fees, uniforms, school supplies and more are completely covered.
All multitalented, Payal, Sanjana, Manixa and Mehrunisa are taking full advantage of these opportunities. When they grow up, they want to be an actor, a fashion designer and actress, a dancer, and a singer, respectively. Their dream jobs — as 11-to-13-year-olds — are a bit fanciful perhaps, but exciting. And with an education, they have the foundation they need to work toward whatever profession they want someday. They say they want to get good jobs, ones that will allow them to support their families. That is, if they choose to get married — many years from now.
As quickly as it started, this serious conversation ends and lends way to an active game of tag. Within seconds, Payal, Sanjana, Manixa and Mayvis are running and laughing, playing tag in the courtyard of their school. Shrieks, squeals and schoolgirl braids fly through the air as the girls run and play. And this is exactly as it should be.
A 20-year-old single mom, Stephanie did everything she could to provide for her two young boys. She worked as a street vendor — selling bananas, eggs and bread — but it was never enough. Her sons weren’t even getting enough to eat, and were severely malnourished.
As a woman, it’s not surprising that Stephanie struggled to find work that payed enough to provide for her family. In Haiti, as in many places, skilled trades earn significantly more —but these are considered “men’s jobs.” But when Stephanie had the opportunity to learn a trade, she chose a “man’s job” — and became a plumber!
Stephanie received the Gift of Hope of job skills training from generous Holt donors and enrolled in Holt’s single mother empowerment program. In this program, each single mother enrolls in a training program of her choice, and is equipped with the skills she needs to earn a stable income and provide for her children. Stephanie receives a small monthly stipend to cover her expenses as well as a monthly package of food and nutritional supplements for their children, which is sustaining her family and healing of them of malnutrition until Stephanie can provide this food herself.
Stephanie is one of just four girls in her plumbing class of about 20 — all four of them a part of Holt’s single mother’s program. And she is absolutely succeeding.
“I thank you a lot for what you have done in my life, and I would like you to be able to continue the program to help other women in my condition to whom you have given a second chance at life,” Stephanie says. “So many women do not have that opportunity in Haiti, and for me to be here, I feel very happy, very proud — and thankful — for what’s happening in my life.”
Meet Sophia. Sophia lives with her grandmother and four of her cousins in Biika Iwamigo village, a small farming community recovering from both the spread of HIV and years of brutal conflict in central Uganda. And like many girls in her community, Sophia may have never gone to school...
Around the world, more than 31 million girls do not attend school. Girls are far more likely than boys to drop out of school at a younger age. And when struggling to make ends meet, many families opt to keep boys in school and pull girls out to help earn income for the family. But when girls receive an education, they’re equipped with the tools to pursue their dreams, earn a stable income and rise above poverty — even ending the cycle of poverty in their families. And that’s exactly what’s happening for Sophia.
With so many children in her household, Sophia’s grandmother didn’t have the resources to send them all to school. But that all changed when a generous Holt donor gave the Gift of Hope of a school scholarship. Now, Sophia attends school each day. The scholarship covers her school fees, uniform, textbooks, supplies and daily lunch. Sophia wants to be a nurse someday, and now she has the tools to make it happen!
“We call ourselves the brave women because everyone has to be brave and speak up.” At a meeting of the Brave Women, this explanation of the name draws nervous laughter — as if the idea of brave women is a laughable concept. But in Cambodia, the act of gathering together as a group of women is nothing short of brave. Each month, 30 women meet in this Holt-initiated support group to discuss common hardships. They talk about parenting their children and raising animals, and share advice and wisdom about their newly developed job skills. One of these women is Saywen.
After receiving job training and encouragement through the Brave Women, Saywen, a 29-year-old mother of two children, expanded her small grocery stall. Now she stays home with her children while her husband travels for construction jobs.
“I always dreamed of owning a shop like this,” Saywen says. “I never went to school. I can’t read or write.” But now, because of the financial and job skills training she’s received from generous Holt donors, Saywen’s dreams are becoming a reality. Once she pays off her first $100 loan, she wants to borrow again and add an electricity source and small refrigerator to her shop so she can keep produce fresh longer and sell cold items. Today, Saywen can confidently care for herself and her children on a reliable income. And her biggest goal? To keep all of her children in school, so they can have the same opportunities in life that she has now.
This Valentine’s Day, learn about the children waiting to receive the heart surgeries and treatment that they desperately need.
Two-year-old Nuan has a broken heart. Not metaphorically, in the way we usually talk about broken hearts — she has a loving family and all of the nurturing care, snuggles and love she could ask for. Her heart is broken literally. She has congenital heart disease.
When Chanrea’s father died, her mom wasn’t sure she could keep her daughter in school.
Chanrea needed books and supplies, a backpack, a uniform and shoes. But her mom earned very little working in a garment factory in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. She couldn’t afford to support Chanrea and her other three children on her own.
The extra costs to send Chanrea to school were just too much! Thankfully, a local Holt social worker heard about Chanrea and saw that she was at risk of dropping out of school. And through the generosity and compassion of Holt donors, Chanrea received everything she needed to continue her education.Continue reading “A New Uniform and Shoes Kept Chanrea Safe and in School”
Because of generous Holt donors, kids in China will be cozy all season.
China’s cold winters can feel even colder for children living in poverty. Many families don’t have heaters to warm their homes. And few can afford anything but cheap cotton coats for their kids to wear all season.
But this winter, children in Holt’s programs in China will stay warm and cozy, bundled up in heavy down coats that Holt donors generously provided through their heartfelt giving!
How the COVID-19 pandemic has affected, and will continue to affect, children’s education around the world.
Schools first shut down due to COVID-19 in China in January 2020, and the rest of the globe was soon to follow.
By March, most countries around the world had nationwide full or partial school closures. And the situation has only intensified, with seasons of ebbing and flowing through the spring, summer and fall of 2020, and now the winter of 2021.
During this time, most countries have adapted to some form of distance-learning in an attempt to keep children moving forward in their education. Teachers and students have met over video conferencing apps, educational material has rolled out via radio and television programs, and some schools even delivered workbooks to each enrolled child.
But despite the diversity of these initiatives, most forms of distance learning have been inaccessible for children living in poverty and in developing countries.
At the end of 2020, Liya, Cam, Purev and Guneet represented the greatest needs children were facing after a difficult year. One month after Holt donors generously stepped up to help, see how these children are doing now!
In the last months of 2020, we shared about some of the greatest, most urgent needs children around the world were facing as part of our President’s Top Priority Campaign for Children 2020. After such a difficult year, from stay at home orders to lost income to schools closing, children were truly in crisis.
The top needs Holt staff around the world identified were: malnutrition in Ethiopia, overcrowded orphanages, children living and working in the garbage dump in Mongolia, and children and families who were homeless or on the brink of homelessness. Each need came to life through a child and his or her story. These children were Liya in Ethiopia, Cam in Vietnam, Purev in Mongolia and Guneet in India.
While the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will be long-lasting, Holt donors responded generously, providing help to these children who needed it the very most. It’s only been a month since the President’s Top Priority Campaign for Children 2020 concluded, but already children are starting to get the help they need.
Here are the latest updates we’ve received about Liya, Cam, Purev and Guneet since they began receiving help!
There wasn’t any fuel to warm the Red Stone School in Mongolia this winter, but you provided just what kids needed to get warm!
It’s wintertime in Mongolia, where on the worst days temperatures can drop to 40 degrees below zero. These low temperatures are dangerous — deadly, even — to the children who live here.
The Holt-donor supported Red Stone School is a shelter from the cold for 52 of these precious children. It’s a special informal school just for them — children who live and work near the city’s largest garbage dump.
But this year, as winter approached, teachers and Holt staff didn’t know how children would stay warm. Even though the children could come to school each day, they didn’t have any fuel to heat the school building.
So many children are in danger of homelessness because of the pandemic. But you can help ensure a safe place to sleep for children and their families.
Whether a makeshift shelter beside the garbage dump in Mongolia, a house with a rotted roof in Cambodia or crowded room in a slum building in India, so many children around the world don’t have a safe place to sleep.
You can help rush food, masks and other emergency supplies to children living in the dump in Mongolia — children like Purev.
“The harshness of this environment… it is just not a place where children should be,” says Paul Kim, director of programs for Korea and Mongolia. “[It’s not a place] where anyone should be, really — but especially not children.”
But nevertheless, this place — a garbage dump outside of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia — is home to dozens of children and their families. Including Purev and her family.