Keeping Kids Connected During COVID-19

In Delhi, children felt isolation, bored and disconnected from their Holt-supported community during their city-wide lockdown. But then, they started a vlog to connect with each other — and it’s been more meaningful than they ever expected.

“Hello Friends! I’m Deepa,” says a young girl, giving a slight wave to the camera. Deepa wears her black hair in two low French braids fastened with purple scrunchies, and has a thin black choker necklace around her neck.

A friendly greeting and introduction like this is how 11-year-old Deepa starts all of her videos on the KARE Kids vlog. In her first video, she shares about herself, her life and her family. In a later video, titled “Arts and Crafts with Deepa,” she shows how to make a pop-up greeting card. In the one before that she shares yoga tips, and in another she tells everyone which superpower she would choose to have and why.

In her latest video on the vlog. Deepa shares about which superpower she would want to have.

Deepa is one of 28 children who contribute to the KARE Kids Vlog Channel. Although, with its classroom-like feel, it’s really more like a community of friends than just a YouTube channel. Each of these children lives in Delhi, India and are part of the Kinship Care and Relational Engagement or “KARE” program through Shishu Sangopan Griha (SSG), Holt’s partner organization in the city.

Continue reading “Keeping Kids Connected During COVID-19”

The Children Left Behind

When a news story broke in China about children who died by suicide after their parents migrated without them, it became clear this was more than a crisis of poverty. It was a crisis of loneliness and loss.

When Luan's parents left, she was left in charge of her younger brother and her elderly grandparents.
When Luan’s parents left, she was left in charge of her younger brother and her elderly grandparents.

Luan doesn’t blame her parents for leaving. She loves them and forgives them for doing what they did. She even goes to visit her mom sometimes.

“I don’t know why she left me,” she says of her mom, “but I don’t blame her or hate her.”

Luan is among an estimated 60 million children in China who are growing up without their parents — left behind in rural villages in the care of elderly grandparents or relatives who struggle to provide for them on their own meager resources. In some cases, parents leave their children when they divorce, or when they remarry and their new spouse won’t accept children from a previous marriage. But most parents leave when they migrate to cities in search of work. They leave out of poverty, out of desperation. Continue reading “The Children Left Behind”

Can a Sewing Machine Actually Help?

sewing machine in CambodiaWhen Narin’s dad lost his job because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Gift of Hope of a sewing machine saved their family.   

Narin’s family was empowered, independent and thriving.

At the beginning of 2020, they were doing well. They had food to eat, a stable income, the children were going to school, and 16-year-old Narin finally had the medical care he needed — all thanks to the generosity of Holt donors.

But then the coronavirus pandemic began. And their family plunged once again into crisis.

Continue reading “Can a Sewing Machine Actually Help?”

A Herd of Sheep, a Lifetime of Hope

For her class community service project, adoptee Anna Hebert launches a fundraising campaign for impoverished families in Mongolia — and raises enough to provide a herd of sheep and goats for three families!

My name is Anna Hebert, and I am currently in 11th grade at a public charter school in Southern California. I was born in a small province in China called Hunan and adopted through Holt as a baby. I have always loved helping out those who are less fortunate than I am.

This whole project started because my school has a graduation requirement to do a community service project. After learning about this graduation requirement in seventh grade, I was really excited to tackle a project that would change the lives of others in a positive way. Continue reading “A Herd of Sheep, a Lifetime of Hope”

Fostering Resilience During COVID-19

Greg Eubanks, Holt’s VP for U.S. foster care and adoption, shares how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting foster families and children this National Foster Care Awareness Month — and why we urgently need new families to say ‘yes’ to fostering. 

None of us imagined it would feel ‘normal’ to carry out our work in isolation, particularly when that work is so focused on human interaction and relationships. In Holt’s foster care program, we work every day with vulnerable children as our focus. These particular children live in our state, our county, and our neighborhood. Continue reading “Fostering Resilience During COVID-19”

They Are Safe, Because of You

A few months ago, we shared with you the story of Thak Kan and his family in Cambodia.

Eleven-year-old Thak Kan and his family had trouble sleeping every time it rained where they live in rural Cambodia. The roof would leak. The house would flood in heavy rain. But what worried them the most were the poisonous snakes and scorpions that crawled through the holes in the walls of their house seeking dry shelter. Thak slept on the ground with his parents and three younger siblings. And he was scared of snake bites.

Thak Kan and his family stand in front of their old house, which had holes in the walls and floor that let in snakes and scorpions.
Thak Kan and his family stand in front of their old house, which had holes in the walls and floor that let in snakes and scorpions.

Thak Kan’s family was one of the poorest families in their village in rural Cambodia. They could hardly afford food, much less the materials to build a safer house. But when, on Giving Tuesday, we asked you to help build new safe homes for families living in dangerous conditions, you responded with overwhelming kindness and generosity.

You helped provide home repairs and new houses for some of the most vulnerable families living in some of the worst conditions — including for Thak Kan and his family!

Continue reading “They Are Safe, Because of You”

The Least We Could Do

When the Poliakoff family travels on Holt’s heritage tour to Vietnam, they meet a family whose quiet heroism in the face of poverty inspires them to help build a safe new home for the family and their children.

The second morning of our Holt Vietnam heritage tour, we set out at 9 a.m. from downtown Hanoi in our tour buses to visit families receiving services through Holt’s family strengthening program. I’m not sure that any of us knew what to expect. What we encountered that steamy July morning changed my understanding of Holt’s role, of families living in poverty, and of ways that our American families could make a real and sustaining difference. Continue reading “The Least We Could Do”

I Won’t Give Up On Her

In the summer of 2016, Holt sponsor and then Holt employee Billie Loewen met a very sad, hungry girl in a remote village in Cambodia. She immediately signed up to sponsor her. Four years later, she receives an update that makes her heart soar.

In the first week of every month, I pull open the Excel spreadsheet with four years of monthly budgets. I open the Chase app and Wells Fargo and drift quickly over the charges, looking for anything amiss. The single line with a shortened title, “HOLT INTL CHILD,” and associated charge — $38 — always catches my eye.

Most months, paying bills is the only time I think about what it costs to sponsor the beautiful, shy, heartbreakingly sad little girl I met in a village in Cambodia on a scorching hot, dusty day in 2016.

Tiny, impossibly thin with straggly hair turning yellow from lack of nutrition, and a broad face with deep, serious eyes, 10-year-old Phal captured my entire heart the moment I saw her.

It’s been four years since I met her, and I think about her a lot.

Photos of Phal over four years of sponsorship reports. Her first photo is in the bottom right corner. Her most recent photo is top left.
Photos of Phal over four years of sponsorship reports. Her first photo is in the bottom right corner. Her most recent photo is top left.

Continue reading “I Won’t Give Up On Her”