You open your mailbox and pull out a familiar red and yellow envelope, Holt’s logo flashing from the corner. It’s an update about your sponsored child — one that comes each season. You rip open the envelope and pull out a new photo of your child and an update about his or her life overseas. Or, you log into your email and click on a familiar link from Holt. Soon, a new picture of your sponsored child stares at you from your screen.
You examine the new picture of your sponsored child — her smile, how she’s changed from the last photo — and delve into the words, how your $30 per month is changing her life.
Maybe you even wonder about the day a Holt staff member visited your child to take his new photo and get his update, and the journey to get that update to you, the sponsor. How did it get to you, and why, in April, is your child talking about Christmas?
As kids, our moms would often fret over whether we had eaten enough. Moms took us to the doctor when we were sick. They checked our homework, worried about our education, and also taught us many lessons themselves. Lessons like kindness and how to care for others.
This Mother’s Day, salute the person who taught you compassion by giving a Gift of Hope — a gift to ease the worries of a struggling mother or family in one of Holt’s programs overseas. A gift to ensure her child will have healthy meals, afford to attend school, or be able to see a doctor.
A single mother, Amita struggles to care for her four children alone. On good days, during festivals or celebrations, Amita might earn $1.75 selling flowers. But many days, Amita is too sick from a chronic health condition to go to work at all. The whole family shares a one-room shack without a bathroom or kitchen, and when they can’t pay rent, Amita and her children sleep outside. The family has little to eat most days, and Amita’s two eldest children often skip school to look for work.
Last year, Amita heard about Holt and the services we offer families on the verge of separation. She came to us for help with school fees and nutritional support — but also to gain the skills she needs to independently support her children.
Holt was able to provide the emergency food and medical care Amita’s family needed to grow strong and healthy. Each day, all four children receive breakfast, snacks and lunch at school. Now, five months later, the children’s teachers praise the students for their hard work and passion to learn. Amita is also learning new skills through the job training Holt provides to parents in her town. It only took a little assistance for Amita to get back on her feet, and today, she is proud that she can support her family.
This Mother’s Day, help change the world for a mother like Amita. Give a Gift of Hope in honor of your own mother.
A photo essay and update on last year’s sponsor-funded International Day of the Child celebrations for children in Holt’s programs overseas.
Few things in life are as momentous as the birth of a child. When a child comes into our lives, we cheer and hug and pass around cigars — our faces wet with joyful tears. And every year after, we celebrate the anniversary of the day our child entered the world with parties and gifts and candlelit birthday cakes. Birthdays are more than a silly tradition. And however we celebrate them, the fact that we DO expresses to our children just how much we love them — and how grateful we are that they were born.
Every child deserves a birthday. Every child deserves to eat cake and open presents and have a whole day devoted to celebrating them.
But some children don’t have mothers and fathers and grandparents to throw them birthday parties. Others have loving families who wish they could do more on their children’s birthdays, but can barely afford to give them what they need every other day of the year.
That’s why, several years ago, Holt started a tradition of celebrating the birthdays of children in our programs overseas on June 1, the International Day of the Child. To fund these parties, Holt sponsors go above and beyond their normal monthly donation. They provide goodie bags with signed messages wishing their sponsored child a happy birthday, and give a little extra money for the celebrations. This year, donations from sponsors are also helping to provide a new pair of shoes for every child!
Below, we share photos from last year’s International Day of the Child celebrations in countries we serve around the world.
In Thailand, local staff used sponsor funds to fill goodie bags with stationary sets, sippy cups or cartoon-covered water bottles, chocolate bars and cookies. “HSF would like to convey our heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to Holt’s child sponsors for their generous donation,” writes the staff of Holt Sahathai Foundation, our partner in Thailand. “This special donation was very meaningful to needy children in our care!”
Overcoming financial and family pressures — and one fast-moving river — a young woman in Cambodia pursues her dream of a college education. Research and interviews for this story were conducted by University of Oregon student Hallie Rosner, who recently interned with Holt Cambodia through IE3 Global Internships.
Every morning before class, Sath Chheangly puts on her uniform — a neatly pressed, knee-length khaki skirt and crisp white button-down oxford that proudly displays the logo of the university she attends in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. She looks like any other college girl, with stylish, blunt-cut bangs and a little personality coming across in her choice of shoes, often a pair of yellow, flowered flip-flops. Quiet and contemplative, Chheangly is a serious student, majoring in economics, rural development and agriculture with extra classes in Chinese.
But she, more than most, knows just how much personal appearance matters.
How Holt is empowering women and children in Cambodia.
Holt International hopes the water jar we recently provided *Nai will help her change the world.
But for now, we just hope it helps her get to school on time…
Every morning, 13-year-old Nai fetches the water, takes fertilizer to the field and tends to her family’s four cows in the poverty-stricken Chhouk district of Cambodia. If these tasks take too long, as they often do, Nai misses her ride to school. Sometimes, she walks the long distance and is able to join her classmates. Most often, she stays home and helps her family with the rest of the daily chores.
With aspirations of attending college and becoming a teacher some day, Nai can’t afford to miss out on the very lessons that she hopes to one day teach. But in Cambodia, impoverished families often rely on their school-aged children to help earn the income needed to survive.
At Holt, we applaud children like Nai, who sacrificially step up to help their families make it from day to day. It’s our belief, however, that children shouldn’t have to sacrifice a proper education – and their dreams – to assist their struggling families.
To help Nai and children just like her, Holt began partnering with Cambodia Organization for Children and Development (COCD) in February 2013. COCD believes that vulnerable children are better protected and cared for through the social and economic empowerment of women. Having initiated programs that help to empower women and young girls in India and Haiti, this was a mission that Holt could get behind. To achieve this goal, Holt and the COCD have established community self-help groups for poor, female-headed households in the Chhouk district. The self-help groups serve as education tools, teaching women to contribute to a savings plan. Holt helps provide the groups with income-generating projects and teaches technical skills and lessons on proper household care and hygiene. Continue reading “Something As Simple as a Water Jar”
Earlier this year, University of Oregon business student and IE3 global intern Orion Falvey worked with Holt’s partner in Cambodia, Pathways to Development. Here, he reflects on his experiences and lessons in a country where he faced both language and cultural barriers. It has been two months since I returned from my internship with Holt International in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and I now find myself just two weeks away from graduating college. Studying business and entrepreneurship at the University of Oregon, I have learned about supply chains, strategic planning, market segmentation, and globalization. However, as I consider my next steps post-college, it is not these business courses that I look back on. Instead, it is the number of exciting opportunities I have had working on cross-cultural teams, coming up with innovative solutions to problems, and seeing the impact that arises as a result of being passionate about the work you are doing, that has me thinking about what I want my next endeavor to be. Continue reading “Cambodia Intern”
Join Holt partner Friendship with Cambodia on a tour to learn about life, culture and the needs of children we serve in Cambodia! The tour will run from December 30, 2013 to January 11, 2014, and all funds raised will go to support programs for woman and children in Cambodia.
Friendship with Cambodia (FWC) is a nonprofit organization based in Holt’s hometown of Eugene, Oregon. FWC provides humanitarian aid to families and children impacted by a legacy of violence and oppression in Cambodia. Instead of creating dependence on foreign aid, however, FWC strives to empower and create self-reliance. Since their founding in 1992, FWC has helped landmine victims and poor women in Cambodia market their handicrafts in the U.S. They also started a sponsorship program for Cambodian children to attend school.
Earlier this year, Holt’s senior executive for S.E. Asia traveled to Cambodia to visit families and children in programs Holt supports in the region. Here, she shares the story of one young woman named Soriya. Despite economic hardship, Soriya’s mother held strong that her daughter should stay in school. With Holt’s help, she did.
by Thoa Bui, Senior Executive, S.E. Asia
Soriya* is a shy and very quiet 14-year-old schoolgirl who lives a very simple life with her mother in Takheo, a province in southwest Cambodia that lies along the Vietnam border. Their home is made of leaves and bamboo, and is bare inside save for a few belongings. Soriya also has an older brother and an older sister who live away from home. Her father died a year ago.
Soriya’s family is one of hundreds of families Holt International serves each year through local partner organization, Pathways to Development. Since 2006, Holt has supported family preservation projects in Cambodia with the goal to strengthen family units and prevent displacement of children from their families. Through the years, Holt and Pathways have helped hundreds of children and families grow stronger and more self-reliant.
In the rural farming village where Soriya and her mother reside, a family is considered very lucky to have farmland. However, growing up, Soriya’s family did not have any land. Instead, her parents worked as daily laborers for local landowners, earning barely enough to get by. During the dry season, the father climbed palm trees to collect palm juice to sell. Soriya’s mother earned additional income by sewing together palm tree leaves. Together, the parents made about $2.50 each day.
When Soriya’s father died last year, the family fell into more severe economic hardship. During my visit, Soriya and her mother were still very saddened by his death, and Soriya’s mother often broke into tears when sharing about her family’s life.
After Soriya’s father died, their neighbors pressed Soriya to quit school and help support her family by finding work in Phnom Penh. But Soriya’s mother did not want that for her daughter, and tried hard to keep Soriya in school. Through a community referral service, Soriya and her mother received help from Holt and Pathways to Development. Pathways provided the family with emergency food as well as loans from the rice bank that Pathways operates in Takheo. As the roof on her house is made of palm leaves and is frequently damaged in heavy rain, Pathways also provided home repairs to protect Soriya and her mother from the elements.
Most important to Soriya’s mother, Pathways has equipped Soriya with the resources she needs to attend school – including uniforms, books and school supplies. She also receives counseling on health and education to keep her in school. During our visit, she said, “My daughter can go to school regularly thanks to all the support given by the program to my daughter and family.”
A little bit of support has gone a long way to keep Soriya in school and keep her family together… As I left their house, I kept admiring the strength of this widow and her daughter, despite all the challenges they face in life.
Takeo Province, Cambodia — The sky, a soft blue sheet, void of any clouds, adds to the quieted peacefulness of Takeo Province. To my left are the vast never-ending rice fields dotted with cows, children, and the occasional palm tree. It is dry season now and there is no water in sight. As I walk down the road, the houses of Khvav Commune come into view, most of them look the same, built up on stilts with palm frond roofs. You can tell a family’s income level by whether the house has walls, and if there are cows, chickens, or pigs in the yard.
Seeing a westerner is a rare occasion for these families; one might come through town once or twice a month. The children in the houses and on the streets are always very intrigued. Some are excited to practice their English, and yell out a, “Hello, how are you?” Others are shy and peer around a fence, their eyes focused on me.
Even though school got out several hours ago, many of these children are wearing their school uniforms, a dark blue top with white pants or dress. For many children, their school clothes, which are a requirement to attend the village school, are the only clothes they own. I now fully understand the importance of Pathways to Development’s activities to provide over 200 children with school uniforms and supplies.
As my day resumes, I will continue to witness how Pathways to Development, in partnership with Holt International, provides support for these children living in extreme poverty.
Walking down the dusty road, I pass a boy who looks no older than 6, marching three cows toward the rice fields—he carries a small stick, letting the cows know who’s in charge. During the dry, non-planting and harvesting season, most villagers have little or no work. Six months out of the year they take their cows, if they have them, to the rice fields to eat. The men also climb palm trees, cutting down the fruit and cooking it into palm sugar, which they can then sell at market. This activity generally brings in around a dollar per day for the family. Continue reading “Putting it All Into Perspective”
In impoverished communities around the world, girls are far more likely than boys to be deprived of an education. But when girls are educated, they have the unique capacity to create sweeping social and economic changes in their communities — for generations to come. In Cambodia, Holt recently took over an educational sponsorship program for 79 outstanding high school and college students. One of these scholars is a young woman named Jorani. When she graduates from college next year, Jorani has big changes in store for her small rural village. (Molly MacGraw, Holt and IE3 Global Intern in Cambodia, interviewed Jorani for this story.)
Holt provides educational support for at-risk girls — and boys — in countries around the world. Give your mother a truly meaningful gift this Mother’s Day. Honor her with the gift of education for a young girl in India, or an orphan in China! Click here to view Holt’s Gifts of Hope catalog online.
Jorani* is a shy, soft-spoken young woman in her third year of study at Royal University in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. A student of sociology, she loves to sit in the library for hours at a time – researching topics related to her major. The issue of community development is particularly compelling to Jorani, who grew up in an economically depressed region of Kampong Thom – a large, geographically diverse province located in the center of Cambodia. When she graduates, she plans to return to Kampong Thom and work either for a non-governmental organization or as a teacher. In either role, she hopes to help create a more prosperous and hopeful future for the people of her village.
Jorani is one of 79 students from impoverished communities in Cambodia whose education Holt helps to support. Like all students in the educational sponsorship program, Jorani was chosen for her extraordinary performance and motivation in school. Now 23, she is excelling in her classes and on track to graduate from college next year.