You can help change a child’s destiny!

During a holiday celebration at the school for deaf students Holt supports, classes met outside for a performance of the nativity story.

For children around the world with disabilities, like 9-year-old Tigabu, the barriers to a quality education often seem so large and difficult to overcome, they feel hopeless.

Tigabu’s parents are subsistence farmers in Shinshicho, Ethiopia and they struggle to afford even basic necessities, like food or clothing. They want their son to reap the benefits of a good education and create a better future for himself, but physical disabilities are heavily stigmatized in Ethiopia.

Many villagers in this region still believe that only a family curse could cause their children to be born deaf. However, this so-called “curse” affects an abnormally high number of children in Shinshicho, and no one is sure why. Regardless of prevalence, resources for children with disabilities are scarce, schools turn deaf children away, and even the tools to independently learn sign language are virtually non-existent.

It’s a heartbreaking reality, and many deaf children have been hidden away, marginalized from the community, excluded from schools, and destined for a life of poverty.

Children in one class at the school for deaf students in Shinshicho that Holt supports stop to smile for a photo.

But not anymore.

On a stormy, hot day in early September, Tigabu walked two hours for his first day of 4th grade classes at the only deaf school in the region — a school Holt helped to start in 2010 and that you help us continue to support today.

This year, more than 400 deaf children enrolled for classes.

Many are able to attend thanks to Holt’s supporters who provide more than just school fees, uniforms and supplies. The students also have access to medical care, supplemental food and clothing, and vocational training and education for their parents — so families can diversify their income and rely less on farming.

With help from people like you, the students and their families will grow strong, stable and self-reliant — eventually generating enough income to cover all their needs and invest in their future!

When you give a gift to our family strengthening fund, you help stabilize or reunite vulnerable families like Tigabu’s, and not just in Ethiopia, but in more than 11 countries where we work!

Even a small gift makes a life-long impact on the children and families we serve. Even a small gift can be enough to keep a family together and help a child choose a new destiny —and a better, more stable future.

Read more about Tigabu, and how your support is helping children attend school and families grow strong in Ethiopia by clicking here.

Ethiopia students return to school with Holt’s support

In Ethiopia, students head to school this month with support from their Holt sponsors and donors — some for the first time.

Through our work with vulnerable families in Shinshicho, Holt found that many children who start school — even at 5 or 6 years old — weren’t prepared for classes. They lacked an understanding of structure, routine and basic, preschool-appropriate knowledge. In response, we partnered with the community of Shinshicho to support the first Kindergarten in the region.

In the first week of September, the dark mass of stormy skies over Shinshicho finally breaks apart, however briefly.

There is still a 90 percent chance of rain again today, the first day of school, as there has been for nearly three months. Between the thunderstorms, wind and seemingly endless rain, the dirt roads are washed out and muddy, with deep puddles blocking even the most major roadways.

Soon, though, the rainy season will change — returning to a hot and dry dust storm and droughts that make farmers curse their land.

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Tigabu signs “I love you” to a Holt staff visitor.

Born sixth in a family with seven children, 9-year-old Tigabu has more than once wondered if, indeed, his family is cursed. His parents are subsistence farmers who struggle to afford even basic necessities, like food or clothing. His four sisters and two brothers help where they can to earn extra income for the family, but that often means skipping class to help their parents harvest or carry crops to market.

Until recently, however, Tigabu and his siblings had no school to miss. Their opportunity to attend school is a new one. Continue reading “Ethiopia students return to school with Holt’s support”

How Does Your Money Get To Your Sponsored Child?

Every month, you faithfully send your $34 to your sponsored child … Sort of.

Technically, you send your gift to Holt International, trusting that we will properly steward your money and direct it to your sponsored child. We don’t, in fact, actually give your sponsored child and his or her family $34 in cash or check each month.

Why, you ask? Wouldn’t our sponsorship program be just as effective if we simply wrote a check each month?

Well, that’s a great question, and it is one that our sponsorship team hears often.

There are many reasons why Holt doesn’t give cash to the children and families in our programs, but the biggest reason is that we care deeply about those who we serve and we want every mother, father and child in our programs to be successful. Remember, Holt’s ultimate goal is to ensure that every child has a permanent, loving family. But while our goal for every child is the same, the way we work toward that goal is different for every child. Continue reading “How Does Your Money Get To Your Sponsored Child?”

Can Holt Sponsors Send Letters

The question our sponsorship staff encounters most frequently is, “Can I write my sponsored child?” followed swiftly by, “What can I send my sponsored child?”

We think both these questions are fantastic! They show that you take your sponsorship seriously — often sending positive thoughts or prayers to your sponsored child, and wondering how he or she is doing. Your desire to connect with your sponsored child and bless him or her with additional gifts is one that warms our hearts … and your sponsored child’s, too!

Generally, the answer is yes, you can write your sponsored child, and yes, you can send extra small gifts. But, there are a few stipulations, mostly designed to ensure your sponsored child and his or her family remain safe and successful in our programs.

Here, we’ve created a “10 do’s and don’ts” list regarding correspondence with your sponsored child.

1. Do send cards, letters and words of encouragement.

What you can send your child varies slightly from country to country, but generally, if your sponsored child lives in China, Korea, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Haiti, Mongolia or India, you can send hand-written cards or letters to your sponsored child.

Unfortunately, sponsors of children living in Ethiopia and Uganda are not able to send personal letters at this time. In these countries in particular, fairness and equal distribution of resources is critical to maintaining the positive relationships the staff have formed with families. If one child receives a letter while another does not, it could cause feelings of jealousy within the community. In order to avoid favoritism and encourage healthy working and learning environments, program staff request that no letters come to children or families in these programs at this time. However, there are some ways you can still give to your child. See #7 below!

2. Do tell your sponsored child about yourself and your family!

We encourage you to write about your family, activities you enjoy together and what life is like where you live. Sponsored children like to hear about your town, if you attend school, what you do for work, if you have pets, and other details that help them get to know you. Continue reading “Can Holt Sponsors Send Letters”

Holt Sponsorship transformation

Every day, more than 7,000 children we serve around the world receive life-saving nutritious food, medical care and access to education. Their families are growing stronger and more stable with the help of vocational training, free daycare programs, medical care and counseling — even forming community groups for support and networking, and their children are learning about sanitation and nutrition.

These are Holt’s sponsored children — children who, through the generous monthly gift of Holt supporters, are thriving and learning and finding hope for the future.

One of those children is Dawit — a young boy living with his family in rural Ethiopia. He has been in Holt’s sponsorship program for a little over two years, and in that time his life and the lives of his family have changed dramatically. You can see the change in his photos, the ones a Holt social worker snaps of him every six months. You can see his face change from sunken and sad to bright and smiley.

Two years ago, Dawit’s family was very poor and did not have enough land to generate income or grow crops to feed their family. They lacked basic sanitation and enough food too eat. Dawit suffered from malnutrition, but his parents could not afford to take him to a hospital.

Then, Holt helped Dawit’s family receive a cow, which provided nourishing milk every day — with extra to sell for income. When the cow had calves, Dawit’s family could sell them and add the earnings to a savings account. Soon after, Dawit developed pneumonia, and thanks to the support of Holt, he was able to see a doctor and receive the antibiotics he needed to grow healthy. Slowly, he grew stronger and taller, and he added weight.

Now, Dawit has close, loving relationships with his mother and father, and he is especially fond of his eldest brother. He likes playing soccer and marbles and he has many friends. Dawit is in school, and in the winter his parents paid for his school fees with the income from a calf. Each day, the whole family is stronger and more stable. Dawit is on track developmentally, and he is not malnourished. He is cheerful, friendly and respectful.

We celebrate victories like Dawit’s and his family’s, but we also know there are many children who need the same support that Dawit receives.

We encourage you to sponsor a child today. It is truly life changing — and the proof is in the pictures!

Summer Reunion

Is there any better way to celebrate summer than by gathering with old friends for an action-packed weekend of activities, laughter and fun?

Holt’s branch assistant for our Midwest office, Laura Sykora, adopted two children from Ethiopia, and last month she gathered with six other families for a weekend-long camping trip and we couldn’t help but share their adorable photos!

Laura says, “We have a group of families that all adopted their children from the same orphanage in Ethiopia that stays in contact with each other.  One of the adoptive parents got the ball rolling to do a gathering in Missouri (a central location for most families) to get kids together again and spend a long weekend camping and meeting up. We spent time swimming, roasting hot dogs and smores, went to a  baseball game and on the last day all of the families enjoyed an Ethiopian lunch together.  The kids were really happy to see their friends again and it was really good for parents to reunite and talk about experiences they have had with their families adjustments and how the kids are doing. All of the families were amazed with how well the kids did together and that we plan to make this a yearly occurrence.”

Nutrition appeal

Every year, nearly 10.9 million children under the age of 5 die from preventable causes — nearly 60 percent are from malnutrition. Malnutrition and hunger-related disease takes more lives than tuberculosis, AIDs and malaria combined. In orphanage care, nearly 85 percent of children have significant nutrition and health-related problems.

Even for children who survive malnutrition, illnesses like anemia — which some experts estimate affects more than half of children in orphan care — can have very serious consequences for a growing child.

Anemia is usually caused by a lack of iron — a mineral critical to brain development. Brain development in children under 5 is extremely accelerated, so an iron deficiency can tremendously impact long-term cognitive and emotional growth. Studies of anemic children have shown that they have lower IQs and perform more poorly in school. Iron is also very important in disease prevention and immunity. Those who are iron-deficient tend to get sick more easily and for longer periods of time.

Today, thanks to a four-year grant from a private foundation, Holt and our partner agency SPOON Foundation are combating malnutrition head on by training caregivers on improved feeding techniques, treating and monitoring children who show signs of hunger-related illness, and fighting against the leading causes of malnutrition.

At a care center in India, one of Holt’s pilot sites, the prevalence of anemia in children dropped from 45 percent to nine percent in just six months of working with SPOON.

Watch the video below to learn more about how Holt is eliminating nutrition-related issues in children through our partnership with SPOON. Or, read more about our work with SPOON here.

Then, please offer your support! We are in a tremendous position to impact the lives of thousands of children in our care, but we need your help. Give a gift to help vulnerable children have the chance to flourish.

Holt International and SPOON Foundation in India from Holt International on Vimeo.

Who are Holt’s sponsored children?

In Holt’s nearly 60-year history, we’ve had the opportunity to impact the lives of hundreds of thousand of children and families. Historically, most of these children were adopted into loving families — and from that history came Holt’s legacy as an adoption agency. While this is totally true, many people are surprised to learn that very few of the children in Holt’s growing sponsorship program are on a track to join an adoptive family overseas. For every child who is adopted in the U.S. in order to join a loving family, Holt helps thousands more children stay or reunite with their birth families, or join an adoptive family in their country of birth — helping to achieve Holt’s mission of finding families for children.

So, who are Holt’s sponsored children?

Let’s break it down: Continue reading “Who are Holt’s sponsored children?”

Shinshicho Hospital Update (Photos), Spring 2014

The hospital is really taking form! Check out the progress to the surgical wings, patient wards and outside appearance of the building. When this hospital opens in summer 2014, more than 250,000 people will have access to advanced healthcare for the first time!

 

At the end of March, more than two tons of medical equipment arrived at the Holt-funded maternal and child hospital in Shinshicho Continue reading “Shinshicho Hospital Update (Photos), Spring 2014”