A Beautiful Dream for India

Meet Jim De, Holt’s new India country director! From caring for foster children in his childhood home, to finding families for children orphaned by the 2004 tsunami, to greeting Holt adoptive families at the Delhi airport, he has always followed his life’s passion — advocating for his country’s orphaned and abandoned children. 

It was 2:00 a.m. and 7-year-old Jim De sat awake in his home with his mother. She changed a baby’s diaper while he held another one in his arms, feeding her a bottle of formula. Tonight was their turn for “night duty,” a task in which they stayed up all night to care for the 30-40 children living in the care center that the De family ran out of their home. Jim and his mother were on night duty about once a week — and he loved it!

“I was very excited about doing that kind of stuff,” Jim says now, during his visit from India to Holt’s headquarters in Eugene, Oregon. “It was so much fun to stay up all night — but by 4:00 in the morning, you were out!”

Throughout his years growing up in India, serving children — growing up with them as friends and welcoming them into his home as family — was a normal part of his life. Jim’s father worked as treasurer for the Church of North India and his mother was involved with child welfare organizations. What started as his family fostering just one child — Tom, who needed somewhere to stay while his international adoption was finalized — soon turned into the De family fostering many children out of their home and eventually opening up an official care center for these children.

“They were my friends,” Jim says. “For us, it was exciting! There was always a new child in the house, a new friend — we always welcomed them.”

Continue reading “A Beautiful Dream for India”

Building Hope in the Barangays

In the most impoverished communities of Manila, Philippines, Holt’s on-the-ground partner is working with at-risk families to build and strengthen small businesses. Because when parents can independently provide for their children, we know that families succeed and children thrive.

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Teacher Chris checks a student’s work before lunch is served in Escopa III’s free Holt-funded preschool program for 3-5 year-old children.

Teacher Chris raises his hand to quiet his classroom of 15 children.

The 4 and 5-year-olds turn to look at him, each in their matching school uniforms — brightly colored T-shirts with Bertha Holt’s iconic “every child is beautiful” quote screen printed on the back. They break into song, cheerfully chanting, “Thank you, Lord, for giving us food. Hallelujah, praise the Lord,” in unison.

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Children in KBF daycare and preschool programs wear uniforms featuring Holt founder Bertha Holt’s iconic quote.

This is a daily ritual before the end-of-day meal is served. Continue reading “Building Hope in the Barangays”

Sponsorship = Healthy Children, Stable Families, Strong Communities.

If we ever wish to see a world where every child has a permanent, loving family, then keeping families on the verge of separation together is critical.

In Cambodia, this concept is absolutely central to Holt’s programs.

With the generosity and commitment of sponsors like you, Holt’s on-the-ground partners are empowering women to combat some of the biggest threats to family stability — migration, trafficking, poverty, poor job opportunities and food shortages.

By training moms in diversified sustainable agriculture (a fancy way of saying farming and ranching), they are able to generate enough income to provide for their families without migrating for work. This helps to keep children safe. By creating women’s self-help groups and community loan programs, women are learning to save money and also have access to low-interest loans. This helps ensure children’s basic needs are met. And, by providing children with school supplies, teachers, advocates and education-based leadership opportunities, children are staying in school longer and staying safe from exploitation, abuse and trafficking. And, children share what they’ve learned with their parents, too.

All together, these efforts mean healthier, happier children, stable families and stronger communities.

And it’s all because of you, because you provide the support to ensure these programs are possible. By sponsoring a child, you are giving a voice to the voiceless and preventing child abandonment, and not just in Cambodia but everywhere Holt has programs.

In early February, Holt staff had the opportunity to visit children and families in Cambodia, and we hope you will take a minute to see how sponsorship is transforming the lives of children and families in two of the poorest districts, Prey Veng and Kampot.

You can read more about Holt’s programs in Cambodia here.

Today is International Women’s Day!

email2-IWD-Womens-day-2Today, on International Women’s Day, you can honor and support women and girls around the world! 

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Across the globe, women fight every day against gender inequality. A woman in Cambodia fights for an education. A woman in India fights to provide for her family. While a woman in Ethiopia or Thailand or Vietnam fights to pursue the dreams she has for herself and her children. When you empower a woman, you are equipping her with the tools to overcome poverty.

By giving one or more of these gifts, you can have a truly profound impact not only on one woman’s life — but on the lives of her entire family. 

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Give a Gift of Hope in honor of a loved one and we will send a free card! 

Preventing Family Migration and Child Trafficking in Cambodia

In Cambodia, poverty often forces parents to migrate for work — sometimes hundreds of miles away — which puts children at greater risk of malnutrition, trafficking and exploitation. But, by supporting microloans and women’s self-help groups, Holt sponsors and donors are helping families learn sustainable agriculture skills so they can independently provide for their children, without having to travel.

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Trucks waiting to transport workers home from a garment shop in southwest Cambodia. Employees pay a monthly fee for this transportation.

At 4:30 p.m., the garment factories in southwest Cambodia are letting out for the day. Beyond the fences and gates that surround each giant, metal warehouse, a row of industrial flat-bed trucks wait, some already filling with women in bright pants and T-shirts. The two-lane road leading from the nation’s capital city, Phnom Penh, to the small fishing town of Kampot is stacked with these trucks — some with 20 or 30 passengers who sit in the back, shoulder to shoulder, their legs stretched straight. Some have more than 100 passengers, mostly women, who are packed so tightly they must stand with their stomach and back pressed into the women around them. The air is dusty as they drive, and many cover their faces with medical masks or scarves.

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During rush hour, the two-lane road connecting rural Kampot to Phnom Penh is packed with hundreds of trucks like this one transporting garment factory workers home. Some are even larger and transport more workers.

“When a truck wrecks, many women die,” Kosal Cheam, Holt’s director of programs in Cambodia, says grimly, shaking her head.

In Cambodia, poverty is so widespread that thousands of families are forced to migrate from rural areas to large cities like Phnom Penh or even bordering countries like Thailand to find work — often low-paying jobs in crowded garment factories. Agriculture, mainly rice production, is the dominant economic driver in the region and many families survive on what they grow. But drought is a common occurrence. And when nothing grows, many families are out of work. Continue reading “Preventing Family Migration and Child Trafficking in Cambodia”

Empowering Women in Haiti to Seek a Better Life for Their Families

MARIE GUERDIE & FAMILYWomen are the backbone of Haitian society, but they have little access to the resources they need to build a better life for their families. In one rural farming community, Holt is now working with a local partner to lift up the women of the region — equipping them with the tools and resources to build a small business, as well as the life skills they need to sustain and grow their business long-term.

Marie Guerdie dreams the dreams of mothers everywhere. She dreams that her children will complete their education. That her eldest son, now 13, will study mechanical engineering. She dreams that her 6-year-old daughter will grow up to be a nurse. And that her youngest son, just 18 months old, will one day work as a doctor. Marie Guerdie dreams that her children will grow proud and strong, give back to their community through meaningful work, and experience all the riches that life has to offer.

In her hopes and dreams for her children, Marie Guerdie is just like every mother everywhere. But where she lives, Marie’s dreams are unusually out of reach. Continue reading “Empowering Women in Haiti to Seek a Better Life for Their Families”

Top 15 Stories of 2015

The year 2015 was an excellent year in stories on the Holt blog — so much so that we expanded our Top 10 list to a Top 15 of the year!

In 2015, Holt’s creative lead, Billie Loewen, and I traveled to India, where we witnessed the incredible impact of Holt’s child nutrition program, gained new understanding on how Holt’s local partners are helping some of their country’s most vulnerable children and families, and met profoundly inspiring young women who refuse to accept the gender inequities that are far too common in their native India. In 2015, China announced major changes to their one-child policy — inspiring an essay by Chinese adoptee Lillian Schmaltz — and significantly expanded options for single applicants such as Vicky Baker, whose story of opening her heart and home to a son was among the most viewed of the year. Perhaps what’s most exciting this year is that a number of submissions from adoptees topped the list. In fact, the top four most viewed blog posts of 2015 came from Holt adoptees! 

Without further ado, we are so excited to share Holt’s Top 15 Most Viewed Blogs of 2015, including five adoptee stories, five adoptive family stories and five stories about efforts to strengthen families and uplift orphaned and vulnerable children in our programs around the world. — Robin Munro, Managing Editor Continue reading “Top 15 Stories of 2015”

The Top 10 Photos of 2015

We all love feel-good stories. At Holt, we are surrounded by miracles, triumphant underdog tales and inspiring success stories every day. But sometimes, the best stories aren’t told through words. Today, we look back at a few of our favorite stories of hope, love, family and incredible, life-changing impact — not told through words, but pictures. We’ve rounded up our top 10 favorite, most iconic photos of the year. It’s likely that if you’ve followed us on social media, checked out our website, started sponsoring a child, given a gift to help a child in need or started your adoption journey, you’ve seen at least one of these photos this year. Today, we share the stories behind the photos, and explain why these images exemplify Holt’s work and the incredible impact of Holt’s friends, families and supporters around the world. Enjoy!

Photo 10: Summer Camps

Every summer, Holt Adoptee Camp is both fun and inspirational for the kids and teens who attend. At four sleep-away camps across the country, adoptees spend a week hiking, swimming, playing games and enjoying evenings around a campfire with fellow transracial adoptees and adoptee counselors. This is a time and place for adoptees to just be themselves, surrounded by other people who share similar stories and family histories. Together, they explore identity, race and other adoptee-specific topics in an open, safe setting. Mostly, they have fun! In the photo below, 2015 camp director Chris McGinn — who will return to direct camps in 2016! — serves as jungle gym and friend to 9-year-old Adam Wachner during camp in Nebraska. In the background, 16-year-old Alec Zoz and 13-year-old Karl McGillvray sport Holt camp shirts specially designed by Holt camp counselors.

Photo 10 Continue reading “The Top 10 Photos of 2015”

On Cyber Monday, create a brighter world for children and give gifts with lasting impact

Kick off Cyber Monday a day early with the best deals you’ll find online all day! We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite Gifts of Hope — items that bring comfort, warmth, safety and nourishment to orphaned and vulnerable children, and also make perfect gifts for everyone on your holiday shopping list.

When you give a Gift of Hope in honor of a friend, coworker or loved one, we will send a festive card to let them know you gave a gift in their name!

The items below are proven to make a tremendous, lasting impact in the lives of children facing incredible hardship or crises.

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College professor or singer? Empower them to choose…

 

Facebook-ArtWhat do you want to be when you grow up?

“Maybe a professor in a college,” Parveen* says with casual confidence and a toothy grin.

Parveen is 15 and she lives at a boarding school for girls in Delhi. Both of her parents are uneducated, and they struggle to earn a living selling vegetables in this city where half a million people live on the streets — at least 300,000 of them children. Wanting their two daughters to have safe surroundings and to receive the education they never did, they enrolled Parveen and her sister at this Holt-supported boarding school in Delhi.

Here, Holt child sponsors support 80 girls, 5-17 years old, each with their own story.

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Manesha

Manesha* is a bit more reserved than Parveen. She would like to be a social worker, she says, speaking softly with a shy tilt of her head. When a tiger killed Manesha’s father on their farm, her mother got a job working as a maid and they moved to Delhi.

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Sejal

Sejal* is a tall girl in purple polka dots, also the daughter of a single mom. She wants to be a singer, and her friends convince her to show how well she can sing “Let it Go” from the Disney movie Frozen.

Sejal is exceptional.

Each and every one of these girls is exceptional.

And here, because of their sponsors — and because their families love them so much — these girls have everything they need to grow up safe and supported and to nurture their interests and passions. To have the confidence to think, ‘Oh maybe I’ll be a college professor. Or a singer.’

This year, for Giving Tuesday, we hope to raise $100,000 to support women and girls around the world — to provide educational scholarships for girls like Parveen and Sejal and Manesha, who are growing up in places where girls are often pulled out of school to work at a young age. We hope to provide more vocational training for women, to empower struggling single mothers with the resources they need to care for their children, and to fight injustice and abuse.

Because women are often the change-makers in their communities — and because every girl deserves to reach her full thriving potential — will you join us on December 1?

Thank you for your compassion and generosity. Together with you, we truly believe we can create hope and opportunity in the lives of girls and women.

* names changed

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Manesha, Parveen and Sejal stand with friends and housemates outside their boarding home in Delhi, India.