In rural Uganda, sponsors are now helping children attend secondary school — the critical second half of their education that empowers them to rise above poverty, and to dream big.
Before, Edith might have gotten married. When she graduated primary school last year at age 13 — her education finished — she might have started to run her own household, possibly becoming a mother as a young teenager.
And Raymond? He might have moved to Kampala. As a 12-year-old in Uganda’s largest city, he might have found a manual labor job or started working for a wealthy family — anything to earn a living.
There’s no way to know exactly where Edith and Raymond would have ended up. But of one thing we can be certain — they would not still be in school. Thrown into adult life, without a full education, the cycle of poverty would have continued for them and their families.
Sophia lives in a small rural village in Uganda. Because of her sponsor, Sophia has everything she needs to go to school and thrive in the care of her grandmother. Watch as Sophia shares about a typical day in her life, and the message she has for her Holt sponsor in the U.S.!
On the cover of this year’s Gifts of Hope catalog, 10-year-old Gloria holds a goat her single mother received to help her build the strength and self-reliance she needs to independently support her four daughters. Gloria and her family live in rural Uganda, where graduation rates for boys still exceed that of girls, where girls often marry by age 16 and where women often become the sole source of support for their children. But through Gifts of Hope and child sponsorship, Holt supporters are helping to empower women and girls in this community — making, as some have said, the best investment in the world.
That is a ridiculous question.
This is what Gorret’s face conveys in response to the question just asked of her by the guests in her home — a team of visitors from Holt International, the organization that sponsors her two eldest daughters.
Gorret is a 28-year-old mother of four girls. Angella and Gloria are tall and slender 10-year-olds with thoughtful brown eyes. They are identical twins. Her youngest daughter is a playful 4-year-old who peeks, giggling, from behind a curtain as we talk. Her middle daughter is 7. They are a house full of women, and a house headed by a woman. Four year ago, the girls’ father abandoned his family in a rented room in Kampala — leaving his wife alone to care for her four young children, including a newborn daughter. With no source of income to pay her rent, and no way to support her children, Gorret packed up their few belongings and moved her girls back to her childhood home in the rural Ugandan village of Dwambe.
Ten years ago, long-time Holt partner Jolly Nyeko donated her land to build a school for the children of Masulita, Uganda. Most of the children had never before seen the inside of a classroom. Today, nearly 300 children attend Jolly Children’s Academy with the support of Holt sponsors.
Jolly Nyeko has started many things in her life. The first helpline to report child abuse in Uganda. One of the first organizations to help children and families recover from brutal conflict in northern Uganda. A PhD in early childhood development, which she also later finished.
But one thing Jolly Nyeko never meant to start was a school.
“Starting a school was not my idea,” says the founder and director of Holt’s long-time partner in Uganda, Action for Children (AFC), as she stands on the grounds of Jolly Children’s Academy — a primary school at the center of a village called Masulita, located about 20 miles outside of Kampala.
Today is an exciting day at Jolly Children’s Academy, where Holt sponsors have teamed up with local staff to throw a party in celebration of International Children’s Day. Earlier, the 150 children in sponsorship at Jolly Academy gathered in the grassy field between their classrooms to perform songs and dances, open gifts from their sponsors and eat a three-tiered cake with white and purple frosting. They now sit and giggle in groups, drinking soda pop and relaxing on the grounds of the school — a school that was once, but is no longer, Jolly’s farm. Continue reading “They Are Welcome Here”
Last summer, for International Day of the Child, 200 children in Uganda celebrated with songs, dance, cake and gifts! But maybe the most meaningful part of the day was the children’s reflection on their lives and their heartfelt thanks for the transformational support they receive from their sponsors.
A large group of children from Holt’s family strengthening program in Uganda waited nervously to board a van. It was June 1, the International Day of the Child, and they were driving to the Jolly Children’s Education Center for a birthday celebration supported by Holt sponsors. So why were they nervous? For most of the children, this was their first time ever riding in a car!
At first, many of the young children cried when the car started, but it didn’t take long for their whimpers to be replaced by happy laughter that filled the van. It was going to be an exciting day!
The 150 total sponsored children in Uganda live in the Kalongero and Bika communities where they attend Jolly Children’s Education Center. Primary school-aged children traveled from all around these communities to attend the party. Siblings of children in sponsorship were also invited to attend the party — making it a birthday celebration for a total of 200 happy children. Their schoolteachers would be there as well, along with leaders from Holt’s Uganda program and Holt’s local partner organization, Action for Children. Continue reading “A Joyous Celebration”
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”
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?”
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”