Six-year-old Sokha and his family live in the most impoverished region of Cambodia where many families are forced to migrate or make their children work to earn extra income. But now, with help from Holt and the Child and Life Association, they have hope. Equipped with resources, education and support, Sokha and his family can now escape poverty and transform their future.
When it rains in rural Cambodia, 6-year-old Sokha* and his family have little hope of staying dry. The wind and water easily make it through the palm leaf walls and deteriorating steel roof of their small home. They do their best to dodge the drips and drops, but eventually end up drenched.
In Cambodia, as more and more families migrate from rural villages in search of work, their children are placed at greater risk of exploitation and trafficking. Here, in one rural province, Holt is working to keep children safe in the care of their families and communities.
A young girl — 13 years old — just had her last day of school. Not because the school year ended and let out for the summer. And not because she graduated one grade to move on to the next. For this girl, her last day of school came abruptly — disrupting her education when it all but started. Next week she will move to the city, all alone, where she’ll start work. She was promised a good job, but she knows better than that. She’ll probably work in a garment factory or maybe as a maid in someone else’s house, with long hours and meager pay. Her mother worries and tells her to be careful of strange men who may seem nice at first, but may want to hurt her. She is scared and doesn’t want to leave her friends and village, but she knows she must go to make money and help her family.
A letter from Holt Cambodia staff to Holt child sponsors and supporters.
On behalf of our colleagues and the children we serve in Cambodia, I would like to thank you very much for your support for all of our programs. It is very helpful to children in rural areas who have little access to education. Education is a key factor in the development of our country as well as the development of stronger, more self-reliant families. Without your support, our children may not be able to have a good education or stay with their families. Your support is a valuable gift for all of them.
In 2014, your support enabled Holt Cambodia to directly serve 871 children. Through your sponsorship, you have helped to support educational programs, family strengthening activities, a community library, rice bank, women’s self-help groups and income-generating activities to help families independently support their children.
In 2014, 546 children benefited from educational support. All children received schooling materials, uniforms, emotional support, and some hygiene materials. Sixty-one students continued their schooling until the end of university.
Sien Sok-Ny is a young girl from Porsat province who graduated in 2014, earning a degree in management. She now is very proud to have a full-time job at Cambodian Indigenous Youth Association as a program officer in charge of women’s issues. She hopes to be able to help other children stay in school and complete university.
Last year, you also helped provide approximately 53 families with a one-year loan to start an income-generating business and enabled approximately 270 families to participate in Holt-supported self-help groups. For example, the Pav family in Takeo province faced great difficulties as they were very poor and not able to afford school fees for all four of their children. Continue reading “It All Started With a Holt Sponsor”
When you think about what it takes to keep a family on the verge of separation together, what comes to mind?
Did you think of money? How about food and housing?
What about daycare?
Not unlike in America, daycare and preschool can be rather expensive luxuries for many families in developing countries. Especially in impoverished communities, finding safe, reliable childcare can be extremely difficult.
Even if daycare services are available, many struggling families— especially those living on one income or helping to care for other extended family — simply can’t afford it.
For many years, Holt has, with great admiration, witnessed once-struggling mothers in our family strengthening programs achieve amazing accomplishments for the health and well-being of their children. These mothers worked 15-hour days, earning pennies so that their children could eat and attend school. In Thailand, a mother took a job sewing palm tree leaves together for a mere $2 a day to help her 14-year-old daughter stay in school. In Haiti, a mother worked two jobs to support her daughters after her husband died in the 2010 earthquake.
Mothers would do anything for their children. They would give up everything just to see their children thrive and succeed in life. And nothing brings Holt greater joy than to help these mothers succeed for their children. When you purchase a Gift of Hope today, you help mothers help their children, too! Chickens can help a widow feed her children nutritious eggs. When you purchase a “vocational training” Gift of Hope, a single mother could learn the valuable skills she needs to earn a steady income and help her family stay together.
By helping mothers, you help children! By purchasing a Gift of Hope today, you will change lives.
Through the generous donations of Holt supporters in the U.S., 18 families in Cambodia receive critical roof and home repairs — protecting them from annual monsoon floods.
Hout Rung is a 34-year-old widow with six children. She lives in Cambodia, in a rural mountainous province marked by stunning landscapes and deep poverty. Every year, during monsoon season, the roof of her home leaked constantly. During floods, water would sometimes wash over their entire space — soaking all of their possessions, and leaving not a single dry spot for her children to sleep at night.
From June to October, Cambodia receives nearly 75 percent of its annual rainfall — often in sheets of heavy downpour nearly two out of every three days, with as much as 15-21 inches of rain per month. Monsoons dominate the climate during the rainy months, making even rainy places in the U.S. look relatively dry. To compare, notoriously rainy Seattle, Washington receives an average of 37 inches of rain each year, while southern regions of Cambodia — where Holt serves families — averages 51 inches.
For families like Hout Rung’s who live in the impoverished region where Holt works, the rain is a big worry. During monsoon season, flooding, erosion and heavy wind often cause tremendous damage to homes and streets. And although many homes in Cambodia are built on stilts to avoid the water, sometimes flood levels reach higher than the home’s floors. In time, the wooden stilts that support the home will grow rotten and decayed, and may eventually wash away.
After seeing photos of their sponsored child’s home in Cambodia, two Holt sponsors feel moved to act – providing funding above and beyond their monthly sponsorship gift to cover the cost of a new roof and walls for the child and her family.
In October, two Holt sponsors — a couple – opened the latest update from Holt about their sponsored child, Sreytouch, who lives with her parents in Cambodia. In their latest update, Sreytouch stood in front of her house — a single room built on stilts with a thatched roof and walls. Sreytouch’s sponsors, who requested not to be named in this story, felt a tug at their hearts after seeing where their sponsored child lived, and what life must be like during wet and cold winters. The sponsors called Holt’s sponsorship department to ask if they could pay to fix Sreytouch’s roof, and if so, what the cost would be.
In two days, Holt’s director of the Southeast Asia program returned the sponsors’ call with a quote for the cost of the repairs.
On November 20, the world will celebrate an important landmark anniversary for human rights and children.
The day marks the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the 1989 United Nations treaty that — for the first time in history — defined the civil, economic, political, social and cultural rights of children. It also set goals to improve the livelihoods of children around the world.
Today, as we reflect on Holt’s nearly 60 years of serving vulnerable children and families around the world, we also celebrate the ways in which the lives of children around the world have improved thanks to the Convention and the work of dedicated children’s rights advocates.
In the same breath, we also recognize areas where more work needs to be done to reach the goals of the Convention, and how Holt can push forward — working toward a more just and equal world, where every child is valued and loved and no child is alone. Continue reading “Rights of Children”