For Deaf Students in Ethiopia, the First Day of School is a Major Milestone

Around the world, the extra cost to send children back to school is often an overwhelming amount for parents. Books, school supplies, shoes and uniforms all add up — and on top of already expensive school fees. However, for one special school in Ethiopia, you can help provide children with the supplies they need and ensure the first day of school is marked with joy and celebration.

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In 2009, Holt came to Shinshicho — first renovating a local clinic, and then partnering with the community to build a full maternal-child hospital to serve the region’s nearly 250,000 people. In recent years, Holt also developed programs to strengthen families at risk of separation from their children. Through our work in the community, Holt heard about the need for a school for deaf children and decided to help. A Shinshicho resident donated the land and space, and we worked with the community to build a school for deaf children. Anticipating only 50 students on the first day, we were shocked when more than 200 children showed up to learn. This year, more than 500 students will attend Yesus Mena School for deaf children.

There’s a universal kind of magic in the first day of school.

The potion is simple: mix one new outfit with two cups of optimism for what a new school year may hold — one from the child, one from the parent. Add a fresh-faced teacher and 50 sets of new notebooks and school bags. Blend it all together with a dose of excitement and a pinch of nerves. Add a new best friend and a handful of lunch-time giggles. Drink it up, knowing this school year will be the best one yet. Continue reading “For Deaf Students in Ethiopia, the First Day of School is a Major Milestone”

When You Educate a Girl…

For most girls in the slums of Pune, India, the idea that they could become a teacher or a public officer or a computer engineer — or that they could choose when, if and who to marry — is a huge shift in thought. And it’s happening right now in the one-room community center of Holt’s legacy partner BSSK.

At a summer camp in the central India town of Pune, teens and pre-teens from a nearby slum sit cross-legged on the floor in groups of 4 or 5. Each group receives a question written in Marathi on a little slip of paper. The question is to be read aloud and discussed.

“When do you want to marry?” is the question put to one group of girls.

One 12-year-old girl in a collared shirt and jeans says she will marry when her parents want her to and when they find a good boy for her. “When I become a teacher and financially independent,” says a reed-thin 13-year-old with tiny hoop earrings and a long braid down her back. Another girl — 14 and serious — says she doesn’t want to marry at all. Her father is very dominating, she says, and her mother has no say. This girl wants to be an administrative officer in the public service once she finishes school.

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This 12-year-old girl says she will marry when her parents decide it’s the right time and they find a suitable match for her.

Continue reading “When You Educate a Girl…”

It All Started With a Holt Sponsor

A letter from Holt Cambodia staff to Holt child sponsors and supporters. 

Dear Sponsor,

On behalf of our colleagues and the children we serve in Cambodia, I would like to thank you very much for your support for all of our programs. It is very helpful to children in rural areas who have little access to education.  Education is a key factor in the development of our country as well as the development of stronger, more self-reliant families. Without your support, our children may not be able to have a good education or stay with their families. Your support is a valuable gift for all of them.

In 2014, your support enabled Holt Cambodia to directly serve 871 children. Through your sponsorship, you have helped to support educational programs, family strengthening activities, a community library, rice bank, women’s self-help groups and income-generating activities to help families independently support their children.

In 2014, 546 children benefited from educational support. All children received schooling materials, uniforms, emotional support, and some hygiene materials. Sixty-one students continued their schooling until the end of university.

Sien Sok-Ny is a young girl from Porsat province who graduated in 2014, earning a degree in management. She now is very proud to have a full-time job at Cambodian Indigenous Youth Association as a program officer in charge of women’s issues. She hopes to be able to help other children stay in school and complete university.

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 Last year, you also helped provide approximately 53 families with a one-year loan to start an income-generating business and enabled approximately 270 families to participate in Holt-supported self-help groups. For example, the Pav family in Takeo province faced great difficulties as they were very poor and not able to afford school fees for all four of their children. Continue reading “It All Started With a Holt Sponsor”

House of Hope

On a recent trip to China, Holt’s China regional coordinator visited a group home Holt supports for children living with HIV. Here, she shares some of their stories — which, though heartbreaking, are edged with hope.

We first became aware of HIV group homes in southwestern China because of a video broadcast through a Chinese news outlet. The report told the story of a 6-year-old boy whose parents had passed away, and who lived alone with his dog because his extended family and community were afraid to contract HIV. The news segment showed an overwhelming outpouring of material support after a wider population found out about the little boy’s situation, but the support he received was measured in bags of food and hand-me-down clothing left outside his door, not care and affection. His life changed dramatically when he finally moved to an HIV group home.

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Holt first learned about the HIV group home in southwestern China because of a news report featuring this 6-year-old boy.

Continue reading “House of Hope”

The Same Opportunities for Every Child

What is the difference between a child with special needs and a child without them?

Hint: it’s not the special need.

It’s the access “normal” children have to certain opportunities.

For example, the difference between a child who is deaf and one who is not, isn’t the ability to hear. The difference is how easily both of those children can learn a lesson in school. Or make friends. Or communicate with their family.

If, for instance, a teacher can give a lesson both audibly and in sign language, then both children can easily and equally learn the same lesson. In that instance, there are no differences between them.

Check out this video to learn how people like you helped our dear friend Jordan Love have access to all the opportunities he needed to live a full, independent life — and dedicate his time to advocating for children with special needs.

With the love and support of the staff at the Ilsan Center for children with special needs — as well as his sponsors and later his family — Jordan had every opportunity to achieve his dreams. But for many children with special needs, the playing field is anything but level.

Where Holt works in Shinshicho, Ethiopia, the rate of deafness is abnormally high, and no one is sure why. Disabilities are heavily stigmatized, and children with special needs are often hidden away. Very few people speak sign language, and when Holt began working in the region in 2010, there were no schools for deaf children.

Here, the difference between a child born deaf and a child who can hear is access to medical care, the opportunity to communicate, and the hope of a bright future and quality education.

Those are major differences.

But, they are all things that can be fixed … with resources.

So, with the help of people like you and your donations to the Molly Holt Fund for Children With Special Needs, we built the first school for the deaf in Shinshicho and over 400 deaf children attend classes each year.

Now, deaf children can access the same quality education as children who can hear. The school also helped educate the community about deafness, and the children in attendance are able to make friends and feel embraced by their community more easily. Nearby, a hospital project (also started by people like you) will soon research why deafness may be higher in this particular region. Perhaps someday, we can find a cause and a cure.

This is a simplified example of how people like you and I can serve children with special needs in a meaningful way. Children with special needs don’t need special treatment. They just need the same opportunities as every other child.

With a gift to the Molly Holt Fund, you provide those opportunities.

Today, help a child with special needs receive the resources he or she needs by giving a gift to the Molly Holt Fund! And learn more about who this special fund helps, and what your gift will accomplish.

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A Mother’s Resolve

Taking full advantage of every opportunity offered by Holt’s legacy partner in Pune, India, one hard-working mother pursues a better life for herself and her children.

Ms. Mangel Mhaske knew she had to do something. She had three children in elementary school and no way would she allow for any one of them to drop out. Although her husband earned some money taking cooking orders and driving a rickshaw, he was a regular drinker — and irregular at work. And besides, the income he earned was never enough to ensure they could pay their children’s school fees. It was hard enough just to keep them fed.

So Ms. Mhaske got resourceful. She knew how to sew, and she could afford to invest a few rupees in some new quilting fabric. For stuffing, she collected used clothing from friends and neighbors, and she began to hand-stitch quilts to sell for a small profit. This small business earned the family a little extra income.

But still, it was never enough.

_DSC0607 Continue reading “A Mother’s Resolve”

Give Hope on Two Wheels This Mother’s Day!

Chanunsiri_1Last January, 15-year-old Nissa received an unexpected birthday gift from her sponsor in the U.S… A blue bicycle wrapped in a red Christmas tree garland! It had a matching blue basket and a big banana seat on which her two little brothers could take turns riding behind her.

“My birthday is on January 20 and I have never received a birthday gift,” wrote Nissa in a thank you letter to her sponsor. “This year, I received a gift from you that makes me feel proud and very grateful.” Continue reading “Give Hope on Two Wheels This Mother’s Day!”

A Foundation in Education

3-Trapaing Kakas2[2]When you think about what it takes to keep a family on the verge of separation together, what comes to mind?

Did you think of money? How about food and housing?

What about daycare?

Not unlike in America, daycare and preschool can be rather expensive luxuries for many families in developing countries. Especially in impoverished communities, finding safe, reliable childcare can be extremely difficult.

Even if daycare services are available, many struggling families— especially those living on one income or helping to care for other extended family — simply can’t afford it.

And that leaves parents with a tough choice. Continue reading “A Foundation in Education”

Do you know a mother like this?

Philippines Stacy 2015 5For many years, Holt has, with great admiration, witnessed once-struggling mothers in our family strengthening programs achieve amazing accomplishments for the health and well-being of their children. These mothers worked 15-hour days, earning pennies so that their children could eat and attend school. In Thailand, a mother took a job sewing palm tree leaves together for a mere $2 a day to help her 14-year-old daughter stay in school. In Haiti, a mother worked two jobs to support her daughters after her husband died in the 2010 earthquake.

Philippines stories 2Mothers would do anything for their children. They would give up everything just to see their children thrive and succeed in life. And nothing brings Holt greater joy than to help these mothers succeed for their children. When you purchase a Gift of Hope today, you help mothers help their children, too!
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Chickens can help a widow feed her children nutritious eggs. When you purchase a “vocational training” Gift of Hope, a single mother could learn the valuable skills she needs to earn a steady income and help her family stay together.

By helping mothers, you help children! By purchasing a Gift of Hope today, you will change lives.

The time to give hope is now!

Phillip Littleton
President and CEO

A Festival of Colors and Love

While visiting a Holt-supported day care program in Bangalore, India, Holt staff member Aloura DiGiallonardo celebrates the Indian holiday Holi with the children in care.

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Aloura captured a selfie with a child in VCT’s day care program as they celebrated the Indian holiday Holi.

Holi is known as the festival of colors, or the festival of love. I certainly felt the love and saw the color during my Holi experience at Vasthayla Charitable Trust (VCT) in Bangalore, India last week. Continue reading “A Festival of Colors and Love”