It’s Not Too Late……

Alana and her grandmother need a fresh start this holiday season…through Holt’s Gifts of Hope catalog, you can help!

Six-year-old Alana should be well into her first year of school right now, but instead, she remains in a small, one-room house in a tiny village of southern Ethiopia. Having lost both of her parents to disease, Alana now lives with her grandmother, who struggles to provide Alana with her next meal, let alone an education.

Through Holt’s family preservation program in Ethiopia, there is hope for this family. For the past three years, families have entered into the program only to transition out a year later, stronger, healthier and happier.

In July, Holt reported on one such success story. Brought back to life through Holt support and generous donations, Ejamo’s family used start-up supplies and a micro finance loan to help them go from poor and helpless, to strong and stable. Sponsorship support brought warm clothes, medical treatment and education materials to Ejamo’s five children.   A start-up supply of seeds allowed Ejamo to grow and sell vegetables and, after awhile, the family saved enough money to purchase a cow, and wood for building a new and stronger house.

The transformation Ejamo made in a year’s time is simply extraordinary — a perfect representation of how a family’s life can be transformed with a little help and a lot of courage….Read Ejamo’s story here.

Holt does what we can to help, but our support would mean nothing without the family’s willingness to take the next step. It takes the drive and determination of families like Ejamo’s to make this program a success. Keeping their family together is what motivates them, and Holt — with your help — is happy to meet them half way.

“The initiative these families are taking is amazing,” says Larry Cahill, Holt board member, who visited Holt’s Ethiopia programs in April. “Their willpower is even more amazing.”

A few months ago, Ejamo’s family transitioned out of the program, making room for another family needing assistance. “So many families in Ethiopia need help,” says Tesfaye Betachew, Holt’s head social worker in Ethiopia.

Accepted into the program in August, Alana and her grandmother still struggle to survive. Stability, however, doesn’t happen overnight. Alana’s grandmother needs time and ongoing support to be successful.

“For this family, and all of the families entering our program, we work on making the appropriate means of intervention to render a holistic support,” says Tesfaye.

This time next year, Holt would love to write a story about Alana and her grandmother, sharing photos of Alana on her way to school, with nutritious food in her stomach and a smile on her face.

With your help, we did it for Ejamo and his family.  Now let’s do it for Alana and her grandmother.


Providing livestock to a struggling family is just one way you can help children and families in Holt’s care this holiday season…click here to see our list of life-changing gifts in our Gifts of Hope catalog…

Holt’s Waiting Child of the Week: Let’s Find Genet a Family this Christmas

Genet was born on Christmas day.  This Christmas, let’s make her birthday special.  Let’s find her a family!

Born in Africa, DOB: December 25th, 2007

 

by Ashli Keyser, managing editor

From the moment our group enters the room full of children at the Durame intake center, *Genet has our attention. She has a delightful way about her, a light and a spark that brightens up the whole room. Her ever-present smile, sweet demeanor and spirited personality captivates us all. We can see that her caretakers adore her just as much as we do.

Our group arrives seconds before playtime. Shoes and children are flying about the room, the eager boys and girls more interested in the merry-go-round waiting outside than the six strangers standing by the door. While just as enthusiastic as the rest of her friends, Genet takes a little more time putting on her shoes.   Her poor eyesight makes tasks like this difficult.

Genet came into care, malnourished, after her father passed away from tuberculosis. Her mother, unable to care for her due to her eyesight problems and developmental delays, often kept Genet from other people, making it even more difficult for Genet to learn and thrive.

Described by her caretakers as determined and willful, Genet doesn’t give up easily and finally manages to fit her little foot into the last shoe.  Then, with a little help from Sister Abebech, she makes her way out the door.

After the children make it a few times around on the merry-go-round, a beach ball is introduced into playtime.  Genet wastes no time  joining the rough-and-tumble boys in their quest to catch the flying object.  Once the ball lands, Genet stands on the grass for a bit, giggling at the silly boys — who, of course, have all piled on top of it at once — and then attempting to shimmy her way into the pile. Alas, after a valiant effort, Genet comes up empty handed.  She has fun trying though, all the while managing to charm her observers even more.

“This is one special girl,” says Sister Abebech, head nurse at the intake center, watching Genet play.

Since entering Holt’s care, Genet has learned to walk, use her utensils and has even learned a few words. The caretakers work consistently with her on speech and coordination, and give her the attention she lacked in her first two years of life.“She’s come so far,” says Sister Abebech. “She just brightens everyone’s day.”

On that day, she certainly brightened ours.

Genet is waiting for a permanent, loving family. If you are interested in learning more about this beautiful, spirited little girl, please contact Erin Mower at erinm@holtinternational.org.

Help Genet, the Waiting Child of the Week, go viral! Forward this to friends and family. Share every week at church or a community group. And repost to your own blog, Facebook page and company site. With the simple press of a button, you can change Genet’s life forever!

This little girl is in need of a special family who is open to some unknowns and who are able to provide her with any medical care or therapies she may need.

To adopt Genet, couples must be between the ages of 25-44, married for at least two years, and can have up to five children in the home.

*Name has been changed

On This Special Day

Through the sharing of photos and memories, Randa Hazzard remembers the day she met her sister, Kait. The Hazzards began their own adoption journey to Ethiopia earlier this year….

by Randa Hazzard

Randa at the Des Moines Airport, holding Kait for the first time.

Today is an important day for my family. On this day, 23 years ago, we picked up my sister, Kait, at the airport in Des Moines.  I remember being so filled with excitement waiting for someone to step off the plane with Kait in their arms. We had given Kait a special blanket to be wrapped in, so we would know which baby she was. Up until that point, all we had was a photo taken shortly after her birth. I had kept a photo of her in my room and looked at it often, wondering what she would be like. Little did I know, we would grow up to be so close, so alike, and such good friends.

On December 8th, we always celebrate her coming into our family, and she always tells me how much it means to her.

Once our little guy joins the family, we will most definitely celebrate his special day every year, as well. Thinking about this brings tears to my eyes. I am so thankful for Kait. I can’t even begin to imagine us not having each other.

As I have said before, adoption is amazing!  I Love you Kaitlin Kim! I Love everything about you.

Randa, Kait and Kyle with Grandma Holt.

You are the best sister I could ever have!

Follow the Hazzard family on the journey to their son, here.

Want to learn more about the wonderful journey of adoption?  Click here to learn more.

Comment for Children: SixSeeds.tv Features Holt Family Stories, Gives to Holt

In honor of National Adoption Month, parenting e-zine SixSeeds.tv is featuring several Holt adoptive families, including the Groces, the Johnsons, the Dalrymples, the Osburns and the Blumenthals.  For every comment posted on their stories, SixSeeds will donate to one of many wonderful causes.

Post about the Blumenthals’ story and SixSeeds will donate $2 to Holt!

The Blumenthals brought their daughter Etagegn home from Ethiopia in June.  In the SixSeeds Q&A, the Blumenthals describe their adoption experience, their advice for other families considering adoption, and the wonder of watching their daughter “grow into a joyful little girl who absolutely sparkles.”

Thank you to all the Holt families who shared their stories and thank you, SixSeeds, for giving in service of orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children!

To read the Blumenthals’ story, click here.

How Will You Celebrate National Adoption Month?

Join the Holt Ambassadors Network

National Adoption Awareness Month – a wonderful time to spread the word about children throughout the world who need loving families – is coming up in November.

Many Holt adoptive families have found a great way to raise awareness about adoption and help more children find families through the Holt Ambassadors Network.

Composed of people who share the Holt story and raise awareness in their communities about the urgent needs of homeless children around the world, Holt Ambassadors get involved by: organizing fundraisers, speaking at churches, schools or civic groups; or volunteering at Holt events…..Join the Holt Ambassadors Network today!

Post Holt’s banners on your facebook page or blog during National Adoption Month

Holt Ambassador stories and updates:

The Wolterstorffs:

“Once our eyes are opened, we can’t pretend we don’t know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act.”(Proverbs 24:12)

Speaking out for the orphans of this world is one of my passions. We need to be the voices for these vulnerable children; if we aren’t, then who will be? I try to find ways to help, speak out and gather donations for children whenever I have the opportunity. Being a member of the Holt Ambassadors Network helps me do this.

Most recently, I collected 200 dresses for an orphanage in Ethiopia and was recently given some photos of the children wearing the dresses. To see what the children had worn before and then to see them with those sweet dresses on and those big smiles, it made me want to do so much more.

Even the small things, like gathering dresses, makes a huge difference in the life of a child…and there is still so much more to be done.

With November being adoption awareness month, I encourage you all to find a way to spread the word. Continue reading “How Will You Celebrate National Adoption Month?”

Amesegenallo – an adoption story from a sister’s perspective

The journey that changed my life

by Alexa Dantzler

Exactly one year ago, my parents told me news that forever changed my life. One evening, my parents gathered us in the living room. We called our oldest sister, Dana, at college. And then my dad said, with a grand smile on his face, “Girls, your mother and I have decided to begin the adoption process of a little boy, in an age range between 4 and 7, from Ethiopia. We know you have always wanted a little brother. Now, the opportunity has presented itself to us.” After hearing this, it seemed as though our living room turned into a water park – we all broke into tears.

I was so overcome with joy and excitement that I could barely sleep that night. I prayed, asking God and St. Charles – the patron saint of orphans and adoption – to please watch over our adoption process and let it progress quickly. From that night on, I prayed every night for my brother’s health and spirit.

In June, we were matched with our little man, Berhanu. He was four years old and looked so adorable that I wanted to just take him out of the photo, hug and squeeze him. It was so exciting to hear my dad read Berhanu’s monthly health and social assessments, and see updated pictures of him. Finally, one afternoon, my dad called us. It was early December. He told us that we should start packing our bags – on Christmas day, we would pick up our “little prince” in Ethiopia!

All of a sudden, it was December 23rd. I was more than ready to take off for Ethiopia! We arrived in the capital city of Addis Ababa on Christmas Day, which was actually night in Ethiopia. When I stepped out of the airport and into the night air, I sensed a feeling of returning home, as though I just belonged in Ethiopia. In bed that night, I still couldn’t believe we were finally there, and that my brother was sleeping peacefully right next door in the Addis Ababa transition center. Continue reading “Amesegenallo – an adoption story from a sister’s perspective”

Built on a Solid Foundation

Holt’s Family Preservation program in Ethiopia

“The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”–Matthew 7:25

By Ashli Keyser, managing editor

In the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus uses a parable to speak about faith and trusting in Him. He discusses two builders, a man who built his house on an unsteady foundation of sand, and the other who built his house on a rock – a firm foundation of faith and trust.

While the two houses in Jesus’ sermon serve as metaphors for obeying the word of God, I couldn’t help but ponder this parable as I observed two very different houses set atop a small piece of land in southern Ethiopia. Standing in front of one structure was *Ejamo, his wife, *Almaz, and their five children, waiting for our team, including Holt President and CEO Kim Brown, to arrive.

I had seen this family in a photograph, just over a year ago, and was taken aback by how different each of them looked today. The parents no longer had gloomy expressions of hunger on their faces. The children no longer wore tattered rags of clothes. They each stood, happily, in front of their new house, a strongly built hut, made of durable wood and thickly packed mud. Flowerpots lined the windowsills – a mother’s special touch to a home that she could be proud of.

To the right of the family stood another house – a weak and dilapidated hut made of eucalyptus leaves, straw, and misshapen pieces of wood and branches – a house that looked to be more of a nest than a home suitable for two parents and five children. Today that nest-like shack serves only as a devastating reminder of what this family’s life once looked like and what it will hopefully never be again.

What an amazing moment for Ejamo, I thought. Showing off his family’s new and improved house to Kim Brown and the rest of our team. “Look what I’ve accomplished, look what you’ve helped me to accomplish.” The smile on Ejamo’s face matched his equally large 7-foot frame. This family, no longer weak and wanting – like the broken-down house they once occupied – has made a fresh start and stands strong beside their house, a new beginning and a renewed hope.

“We are going to help this family,” said Phil Littleton, Holt’s senior vice president, standing with Ejamo in 2009, in the beginning stages of Holt’s intervention. “We are going to give them what they need to build a better life for themselves.” Continue reading “Built on a Solid Foundation”

Unplanned Trip…Wonderful Blessing

The following is a journal entry from Ashli’s trip to Ethiopia with one of Holt’s medical mission teams.

By Ashli Keyser, Managing Editor

Durame, Ethiopia—Our last day in Durame had come to an end…or so I had thought. As our group piled out of the cars we had been traveling in all day, I thought about how grateful I was to be here and how much it meant to me to see and experience the work Holt is doing in Ethiopia. I thought about the children and babies I had witnessed being rocked, hugged and fed by their loving, smiling caretakers; I thought about Holt’s work at the Shinshicho clinic and the hundreds of sick children and families who were being helped during this week-long medical campaign. It had truly been an amazing trip. But on this particular evening, exhaustion had also set in and I was more than ready to rest my head on my pillow and drift off into sleep. I had already made it half way up the stairs when Dr. Fikru, Holt Ethiopia Director, suggested that a group of us take a trip to one of Holt’s partner care centers—an hour drive from our hotel. I guess sleep would have to wait.

As I positioned myself in the same seat I had left not more than ten minutes ago, I rested my head on the window to the right of me, closed my eyes and tried not to think about how tired I was as the van pulled away from the hotel. It had been a wonderful, eye-opening trip thus far but, at this particular moment, I was feeling a little unenthusiastic. So, I did what I always try to do when things aren’t going according to my plans…I prayed.

“Lord,” I thought. “Thank you for allowing me to be here. I am pretty tired right now and feeling a little unenthusiastic about this unplanned trip. But I am trying to have faith that you still have more to show me….more to reveal to me. I may not be able to see it right now, but I pray that my purpose for this hour-long trip will be revealed to me…help me to see what You want me to see.” An hour later we made it to the care center.

As we entered the gates of the center, the first thing I noticed was the absence of children playing outside. “Where were all the children,” I thought. “What am I do here, Lord?” Continue reading “Unplanned Trip…Wonderful Blessing”

Ethiopia—Where we Go from Here

Surgical center for children and their families

by Ashli Keyser, managing editor

The second Holt medical campaign in six months had come to an end. For a week, Holt Board Member Dr. Becca Brandt and her husband Dr. Kim Brandt volunteered their time and expertise at the Holt Shinshicho clinic. Arriving at the clinic in the early mornings, the Brandts stayed until each patient had been diagnosed and treated. With the conclusion of the campaign, hundreds of children and families had been treated for malaria, tuberculosis, meningitis, goiters, and other common ailments affecting the people of this region.

“This is good,” says Becca. “Most people would not come to the clinic, or they would wait until their needs are too great. The message went out to the community that we were here to provide the services, and they should come and use them.”

Holt’s renovations of the Shinshicho clinic and the subsequent medical campaigns have dramatically changed the lives of children and families of this area. People are now able to receive medical treatment, prenatal care and health and hygiene education in a clean and safe environment.

A lot has been accomplished in this area, and yet children and families continue to get sick, many of them succumbing to treatable illnesses—leaving the questions: what more can we do? And where do we go from here?

During the closing ceremony for the medical campaign, hundreds of residents and community leaders gathered to help answer these questions. One by one, men and women enthusiastically stood up, walked through the crowds of people, stepped onto the stage and proudly pledged what little they could to help the clinic, which has provided them with so much hope, enter into its next phase of expansion…a state-of-the-art surgical center.

“We don’t have surgeons or an operating room at this clinic currently, and the children and parents are not able to get the surgeries they need to survive,” says Dr. Mintesinot Tadewos, clinic physician and coordinator for the medical campaigns. Continue reading “Ethiopia—Where we Go from Here”