In Vietnam, Sponsors Send Kids With Special Needs to School

For generations of children with special needs in Vietnam, school has been something only other children get to do. But now, in one rural community, over one hundred sponsored children are shattering stereotypes, exceeding expectations — and loving every minute of it.

A longer version of this story originally appeared in the spring 2018 Holt sponsorship magazine.

Khang swivels his head and shakes his body to the pop-y, upbeat dance tempo that reverberates off the tile floor and blares out into otherwise quiet fields of rice on this cool January day. He opens his mouth wide and snaps it shut in a toothy grin, reaching out for a friend who dances alongside him. Continue reading “In Vietnam, Sponsors Send Kids With Special Needs to School”

The Brave Girl

How a Holt child sponsor is empowering one young girl in Cambodia to stand up, speak up and become independent and strong. 

Sreyka holds her hands together palm to palm, a traditional way to say thank you in Cambodia.

In rural Kampot, Cambodia, Holt sponsors and donors help over 350 school-age children, and 200 preschool children, go to school. Many of these children are girls who would likely drop out early if not for the uniforms, supplies, books and lunch money their sponsors provide. At school, girls sit side by side with the boys. They learn to read and write, to speak up in class and voice their ideas. Continue reading “The Brave Girl”

Nobody Sees Me, But You Do

In her early teens, Devi thought she’d never be able to attend school. But then, Holt sponsors began supporting her family —  lifting them out of the darkness.

Devi (top left) stands outside her home with her mother and two of her younger siblings.

“Can I say something?” Devi asks, shyly. Devi has a thin face and large, deep eyes, just like her mom. She looks less tired than her mom — although her eyes hold more suffering than most teenage girls. 

“Of course,” we tell her. She had been mostly quiet during our time talking with the family, so what she says next surprises us all.  

Immediately, tears cascade down her cheeks.

“I’m not speaking in English nicely, but [I want to] so thank you. It is God’s grace and mercy that you help us. I want to say, God is helping me through you. God is working, and you are His engine for good,” she says, becoming more choked up and passionate as she goes. “My mom is working and I’m working, but really, you are helping in my education and studies and all things. I am very thankful for you. Nobody sees me, but you do. You help give us medicine, milk and food. All my family was in darkness, but now there is light.”

This is an excerpt from a longer story about Devi and her family from when our storytelling team met them in Pune, India.  Read the full story now!

Photo Gallery: Sponsored Families in Colombia

Through a sponsor- and donor-supported program in Cali, Colombia, children attend free daycare while their mothers attend parenting classes, learn life skills and receive job training — helping them grow strong, stable and empowered to better support their children.  

Cali is a lush and vibrant city home to over 2 million people in southwest Colombia. But like many developing countries, Colombia — and Cali — has two sides. In one neighborhood where sponsors support children, wealthy landowners live side by side with an unlicensed, makeshift community that sprung up during the war to accommodate rural, indigenous families displaced by the violence. Continue reading “Photo Gallery: Sponsored Families in Colombia”

Warm Winter Coats for Christmas!

Thank you for providing warm winter coats for children in China!

Students in Holt sponsorship in China hold Christmas cards from their sponsors!
Students in Holt sponsorship in China hold Christmas cards from their sponsors!

China’s cold winters can feel even colder for children living in poverty. Many families don’t have heaters to warm their homes. And few can afford anything but cheap cotton coats for their kids to wear all season.

But this winter, children in Holt’s educational sponsorship program in China will stay warm and cozy, bundled up in heavy down coats you generously gave them for Christmas!

Continue reading “Warm Winter Coats for Christmas!”

Why One Adoptee Became a Sponsor

Vietnamese adoptee Clare Larson reflects on her life, her family and her hopes and dreams for the child she sponsors in Vietnam. A longer version of this story originally appeared in Holt’s fall 2017 sponsorship magazine. 

Adoptee and Holt child sponsor Clare Larson with her mom and dad at her college graduation in 2009.
Clare with her mom and dad at her college graduation in 2009.

In January 2017, Holt’s sponsorship team received an unusual email from a woman named Clare Larson.

“In 1993,” it read, “I was fortunate enough to be adopted from Vietnam at 9 years old and went through the Holt adoption agency. At 33 years old with a career in management consulting and a student at Cornell’s Johnson MBA program, I am finally able to give back. I would like to sponsor a child from Vietnam.”

Continue reading “Why One Adoptee Became a Sponsor”

Five Holt Cambodia Scholarship Students Graduate University

Every year,  through Holt’s donor-funded university sponsorship program, exceptional students in Cambodia receive scholarships to attend college — including full tuition, English classes and a $30 monthly stipend to help cover additional expenses. Most of the students come from rural impoverished communities, and most are the first in their families to attend college.

This year, despite setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the graduating class included five Holt scholarship students! The pandemic delayed final exam and graduation dates, and required students to finish their courses online. But these five students persevered — graduating with bachelor’s degrees in fields as diverse as engineering, tax accounting and social work, and going on to secure full-time employment with companies and nonprofits in Cambodia!

Congratulations to the Class of 2020 Holt Cambodia scholarship recipients!

Chantrea graduated with a bachelor’s degree in social work from Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP).

Continue reading “Five Holt Cambodia Scholarship Students Graduate University”

How You Lit Up the Dark for Kids in Uganda

By providing solar lamps, sponsors and donors are helping children in Uganda learn at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has created so many challenges for the children and families sponsors and donors support through Holt International. With schools closed and families isolating at home, one of the greatest challenges parents face is how to keep their kids learning outside the traditional classroom setting.

From country to country, the needs are a little different. In many places, access to remote learning devices like phones and tablets is a major obstacle. In some countries, lessons are broadcast via television — making it difficult for families who don’t own a TV. But in the rural farming communities where sponsored children live in Uganda, it’s not a lack of devices that keeps kids from learning— but a lack of electricity. Children are struggling to complete their schoolwork in the dark! Continue reading “How You Lit Up the Dark for Kids in Uganda”

COVID-19 in Vietnam: How the Pandemic is Affecting Sponsored Kids

An interview with Hang Dam, country director for Holt Vietnam, about how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting children and families in Vietnam — and how sponsors and donors are meeting their most urgent needs. 

Thanks to Holt sponsors and donors, this family received emergency food and support during the COVID-19 pandemic in Vietnam.
Thanks to Holt sponsors and donors, this family received emergency food and support  after they lost their source of income during the pandemic.

How is the COVID-19 pandemic affecting children and families in Holt’s Vietnam programs?

We in Vietnam feel so blessed to be safe up to this point in time. All of our children are safe. None of them are diagnosed with the illness. But the pandemic has caused so many difficulties for the parents because so many have lost jobs. Even with the social distancing period over in Vietnam, many families still face difficulties finding a job due to the number of companies that had to close down or ran out of business. Families have fallen into financial crisis and are struggling with daily living and needing basic necessities for their children. Continue reading “COVID-19 in Vietnam: How the Pandemic is Affecting Sponsored Kids”

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.

Continue reading “You Made Their School Warm for the Winter!”