A Look Inside Orphanages Today


Since the pandemic first began spreading in early 2020, it’s changed life for everyone — but especially children in orphanage care. Here’s what life looks like now for children in orphanages from China to India to Thailand. 

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A School for Kids in the Garbage Dump

The story of the Red Stone School in Mongolia — a sponsor-supported school for children who live and work in a garbage dump.  A longer version of this story appeared in Holt’s fall 2017 sponsorship magazine

Students listen to a lesson, dressed in the uniforms they received from their sponsors.
Students listen to a lesson, dressed in the uniforms they received from their sponsors.

You smell, says the teacher. You can’t wear dirty clothes to school. You can’t learn anything. You don’t belong here.

You belong to the garbage.

On the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, high above the city at the crest of a hill, a land of discarded waste sprawls over miles and miles, shrouded by a heavy cloud of toxic dust. This wasteland, this dumping ground for a million people’s garbage, is a living place, teeming with animals and people who pick through the refuse to gather whatever they can find to survive. A rotten loaf of bread. A bone with some meat on it. Plastic or glass or metal that can be recycled for money.

To get first pick at the discarded food in the trucks that arrive at dawn, some people sleep here, using cardboard and old tires to block the icy night wind. To stay warm, they burn tires and trash, breathing noxious smoke into their lungs. In winter, when they climb up on the trucks, some of them slip and fall to their deaths. In summer, when it is hot and damp, some of them get life-threatening infections. Continue reading “A School for Kids in the Garbage Dump”

COVID-19 in Mongolia: How The Pandemic is Affecting Sponsored Kids & Families

An interview with Tsembel Danzankhuu, social service coordinator for Holt Mongolia, about how the COVID-19 is affecting children and families in Mongolia — and how sponsors and donors are helping to meet their most urgent needs. 

Children who live near the Red Stone School in Mongolia stand with an emergency food delivery they received during the pandemic.
Children who live near the Red Stone School in Mongolia stand with an emergency food delivery they received during the pandemic.

How is the pandemic affecting children and families in Holt’s Mongolia programs?

I would like to say that the situation is not good at all. Our children in Mongolia and the families are being very much affected by this pandemic. Why? Because first of all, they are very vulnerable families we are serving. And many of the families, especially single moms, have been very affected because [they are now] out of work. … And there are no relief funds from the government. … So many families are struggling now to feed their children and whatever income they have they are spending on food only. This pandemic is also creating some prices to go up, like food prices. Winter also just started and we have three months to go so they also have to worry about how to keep themselves warm. They have to buy coal for fuel. … This is all really affecting them. Continue reading “COVID-19 in Mongolia: How The Pandemic is Affecting Sponsored Kids & Families”

A Warm Place to Learn

Ganbaatar is one of the 52 children Holt donors are keeping warm this winter!

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.

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2020 Year-End Top Priority: Children Living in the Garbage Dump

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.

Purev, her mother and five siblings stand outside their ger near the garbage dump in Ulaanbaatar.

Continue reading “2020 Year-End Top Priority: Children Living in the Garbage Dump”

You Made Their School Warm for the Winter!

In Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, Holt donors help provide a special school for children living in or near the city garbage dump. Before this school opened, these children spent their days digging through the trash in search of food and recyclables.

The Red Stone school in Mongolia needed repairs in order to keep children warm as they learned!

This school is the only place many of these children can take a hot shower or get warm . This is especially important in the winter when temperatures in Mongolia can drop to an icy 40 degrees below zero.

But recently, the school was in serious need of renovation. Four doors needed to be replaced and the walls were drafty and needed additional insulation to keep children warm and dry during Mongolia’s extreme winter weather.

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Last Christmas Was a Good One!

Last Christmas, children around the world experienced a huge holiday celebration! They attended parties and received presents and ate special meals. None of these experiences would have been possible without the generosity of Holt sponsors and donors.

Children living in impoverished communities or orphanages around the world often miss out on Christmas and holiday celebrations. For children and families who barely have enough to survive each day, treats, parties and gifts wrapped in colorful paper are impossible luxuries.

But every child deserves to experience the joy and celebration of Christmas. That’s why every year, Holt sponsors and donors go above and beyond to bring Christmas to children all around the world.

When sponsors and donors give $25, a child receives a hand-picked gift, festive meal, treats and a special party with their family and friends! It’s a fun-filled day — giving them wonderful memories that they will cherish all year. This year’s celebrations may look a bit different due to COVID-19 precautions, but Holt staff and partners will work hard to make it just as special!

Take a look at last year’s joyous holiday celebrations around the world!

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Domestic Violence in Mongolia During COVID-19: One Mother’s Story

Bolormaa and her children live in a traditional Mongolian ger like the one pictured here.

In late March, Bolormaa* arrived at one of the domestic violence shelters Holt donors support in Mongolia. She had three young children with her.

While Bolormaa had suffered abuse from her husband throughout their marriage, after the latest incident, she had the courage to reach out to a social worker in her community for help. The social worker immediately found a place for her and her children at the shelter. Continue reading “Domestic Violence in Mongolia During COVID-19: One Mother’s Story”

Domestic Violence Cases Spike During COVID-19: How You Can Help

A home in the impoverished "ger" district of Ulaanbaatar, where many Holt-sponsored children and families live.
A home in the impoverished “ger” district of Ulaanbaatar, where many Holt-sponsored children and families live.

When COVID-19 hit Mongolia earlier this year, the government responded immediately — closing schools and businesses, and introducing quarantine measures to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Shortly afterward, local domestic violence shelters began experiencing an increased demand for services — especially in the communities where sponsors and donors support children. Continue reading “Domestic Violence Cases Spike During COVID-19: How You Can Help”