Care That Brings Kids Back To Life

At one special medical foster home in China, orphaned and abandoned children from all over China with severe medical needs, health conditions and special needs receive such amazing care, they blossom right before their caregiver’s eyes.

Peace House is not an actual house, but rather a small apartment on the 26th floor of an otherwise unremarkable 31-story brick building in sprawling Beijing. But inside, the space is anything but unremarkable — it’s a miraculous, life-changing place every day. A place where the contributions of kind and generous donors make a world of difference to the children — often babies younger than 2 — who spend weeks or months here.

A caregiver plays with two children, both growing strong enough for surgery, in the living room of Peace House.

“The thing that most stands out to me about Peace House,” says Jessica Zeeb, Holt’s China waiting child coordinator, “is that the name really describes the environment. When you walk in, you get a sense of peace. It’s calm. The nannies aren’t standing, working on lots of tasks. They are on the floor with the children.” Continue reading “Care That Brings Kids Back To Life”

Because Every Child Deserves Somebody

Around the world, most children come into care not because their families don’t love them, but because they can’t care for them. And far too often, the reason they can’t care for them is because their children have special medical or developmental needs. But through the innovative programs of one longstanding partner in Mongolia, Holt supporters are working to help children thrive — and keep them in the loving care of their families. 

Typically, if a family intends to take their child home — like this little one abandoned in a taxi — they will be back within a month. If their somebodies don’t come back, they become “social orphans.”

This one was left in a taxi, May says, motioning to a months-old baby girl gumming her fingers from inside her crib. Her father told the driver he would be right back. He just needed to get some cash to pay his fare. He never returned.

May Gombo is the adoption/social service program coordinator for Holt Mongolia. She comes here often, and knows each child’s story.

This girl was found in an open market area, she says of a crusty-nosed little cutie with wispy black hair pulled into a pointy topknot. Her parents are homeless and both are alcoholics — “and they live,” May says, “in a hole.” Like so many of the city’s homeless, this girl and her family are part of the subterranean civilization that seeks heat underground during Ulaanbaatar’s frigid winter months, when temperatures can drop below 40. Continue reading “Because Every Child Deserves Somebody”

The greatest gift a mom could receive…

Your child is sick. Horribly, deathly sick.

Is there any worst nightmare for any mom — or any parent — anywhere?

As an adoptive mom of four children with complex heart disease, Andrea knows exactly what this feels like.

“We loved her, played with her, listened as she called me ‘mama’ for the first time, and soaked up every moment,” Andrea wrote of her daughter, Rini, as she and her husband prepared to say goodbye to the little girl they had just brought home from China — a girl who was not yet 2 years old, but whose heart was growing weaker with every passing moment.

Only a new heart would save Rini’s life. Continue reading “The greatest gift a mom could receive…”

Life Inside the Caves of Northern China

Through Holt’s child sponsorship program, dedicated sponsors create pathways for orphaned and vulnerable children to escape poverty and chase their dreams — an especially rare opportunity for children living in caves in northern China.

Pei is able to attend school because of Holt's child sponsorship program.
If 15-year-old Pei ever hopes to escape the poverty and stigma associated with living in a cave, she will need to stay in school as long as possible.

Only the poorest families still live in caves.

Some families use the dusty, mountainside rooms as animal pens to protect their sheep or goats from the freezing winter cold. Others store grain or farm equipment in their cave, and live nearby in a more modern brick or concrete home.

Until she was 4 years old, Huan Yu Pei had never lived in a cave. She didn’t face the stigma cave families feel as the bottom of society. She never felt the draft from the makeshift door.

In the cave-dwelling community where she grew up in China’s Shaanxi province, Pei’s family was considered middle class.

Her father worked in a factory and her mother cared for the house. Pei’s grandfather spent his days harvesting their large plot of land, where they grow sweet apples. Their life was comfortable.

Then, in 2006, Pei’s father was in a motorcycle accident on his way to the printer manufacturing company where he worked as a machine operator. His leg was badly mangled and broken. In this rural, underdeveloped region of northwest China, there were few hospitals and none that Pei’s father could afford without health insurance. The injury never fully healed, and Pei’s father needed crutches to move. He lost his job, and the family fell into poverty and debt.

A view of several cave homes in Ruicheng, an agricultural region about 450 miles from Beijing, China.
A view of several cave homes in Ruicheng, an agricultural region about 450 miles from Beijing, China.

Soon after they moved into the cave where they still live today, Pei’s mother vanished. Continue reading “Life Inside the Caves of Northern China”

Becoming a Person Again

When her husband died of AIDS at a young age, Sebele felt hopeless and unsure about how she would support her five children. But with a small business grant and training from our partner in Ethiopia, she has kept her family together — and has become “a person again.”

_hlt0526Sometimes, people say bad things to Sebele’s children. They taunt them because their father died of AIDS. They avoid them because their mother still carries the virus. They push them to the point of tears.

“They come home and they cry sometimes,” says Sebele*, her eyes cast downward, hands neatly folded in her lap, as she sits on her porch beside four of her five children. “They find their father’s picture and they cry.”

Sebele and her family live in Shinshicho, Ethiopia — one of the southern region’s impoverished woredas, or districts, where Holt has for nearly a decade worked alongside local partners to strengthen struggling families, in particular families headed by women. Here, the stigma against HIV remains so strong that the local hospital — a hospital Holt worked alongside the community to help build — has a separate wing to help HIV patients keep their health status private. When Sebele’s husband died, her neighbors shunned her. Friends and relatives became distant. And even though her children are not carriers of the disease themselves, they too experienced discrimination at school and in their community.

“The only thing I wanted was not to live,” she says.

But life was not always so bleak for Sebele and her family. Before her husband died, he earned a good income working in the local government. Her children attended private school. They ate well. They lived well. And they were respected and embraced in their community.

“Their life was normal,” Sebele says of her children, speaking in Amharic to our translator. “They used to get good support. They learned very well. But the only source of income was from their father. So after he died, that made it even harder.” Continue reading “Becoming a Person Again”

President and CEO Phil Littleton Travels to Mongolia and China — A Photo Essay

In September, Holt President and CEO Phil Littleton spent two weeks visiting Holt projects in China and Mongolia. “The work we are doing exceeded my expectations,” Phil said. “It was extraordinary.”  

MONGOLIA:

Below Phil visits the Rainbow Special Baby Care Unit within a state-run infant and toddler orphanage in Mongolia’s capital city of Ulaanbaatar. Holt established ties with the orphanage in 1999. At this special baby care unit, Holt provides at-risk infants and toddlers with the proper nutrition, medical care and nurture they need to thrive.

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“When Holt arrived in Mongolia almost two decades ago, the orphanage was rather bleak,” Phil says. “Today, the center in Ulaanbaatar is a well-run, warm place for babies to come and be nursed back to health and receive proper nutrition and care.”
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“Ninety percent of the children at the care centers don’t have families,” Phil says. “Some, however, come here on a temporary basis while their families get the support they need. It’s wonderful to be able to provide a safe place for these children to come while their families become more stable.”

Continue reading “President and CEO Phil Littleton Travels to Mongolia and China — A Photo Essay”

Your Support Matters

As a sponsor, you have the unique opportunity to love and support a child living in a tough situation.

Maybe your sponsored child is waiting in a care facility for a permanent, loving family. Maybe your sponsored child is in school and working to end the cycle of poverty for his or her family. Or maybe your sponsored child has special needs that require specialized resources and therapies — needs like cerebral palsy, developmental delays, cleft lip and palate… or HIV.

Among the most vulnerable groups of children Holt sponsors support are in fact children in China who have HIV.

Continue reading “Your Support Matters”

It Shouldn’t Be a Secret

email3-Header-PhotoHolt adoptive mom Anne Silas* has learned that even in the U.S., the stigma against HIV can be strong. And for that reason, Ann and her family are careful when sharing about their children’s condition. However, while it is not something they share openly, it is not a secret. It is not a reason for shame or missed opportunity. Her children know that they can live lives full of love, acceptance and opportunity — while having HIV.

But in China and in other parts of the world, children with HIV must live in secret.

The stigma against HIV is so strong that if their communities find out about their condition, they will likely be ostracized — not allowed in public schools, kicked out of their homes, separated from their families and robbed of the opportunity to thrive and live normally within society.

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But this year through the Molly Holt Fund, you can tell children living with HIV that they shouldn’t have to live in secret — that they deserve to be known. That they deserve the same opportunities as any other child!

Your gift to the Molly Holt Fund will help children who are living in Holt-supported HIV group homes — safe places where they are loved and cared for while many wait for a permanent, loving adoptive family — as well as other children with special needs around the world who are in need of medical care, therapies and the opportunity to thrive.

Thank you for your heart and compassion for children with HIV and other special needs. Your gift gives them the resources, opportunity and freedom they need to stop living in secret and rise above stigma.

* Name changed to keep the confidentiality of Anne and her children

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India’s Doctor of the Year Cares for Holt Kids

A pediatrician who cares for children at a Holt partner agency in India receives a doctor of the year award. 

Jewel of the Crown 2015 IMA 2

Last month, at an award ceremony in Dehli, India, Dr. Jayant Navarange, a highly regarded pediatrician, was honored as “Doctor of the Year” by the Indian Medical Association for his medical expertise and distinguished service to children. Since 1980, Dr. Navarange has served as an honorary pediatrician at Bharatiya Semaj Seva Kendra (BSSK), Holt’s legacy partner in Pune, where his work is very admired. “Dr. Navarange is extremely deserving of this award,” Dean Hale, Holt’s director of adoption services for India and the Philippines, says. “He is a very caring, very learned and very accomplished person.”

Dean says that it’s Dr. Navarange’s calming bedside manner and willingness to go above and beyond for children that sets him apart. “He never just accepts a diagnosis,” Dean says. “He always digs deeper.” Dean, who has worked with Holt’s India program for over three decades, recalls a time when Dr. Navarange examined a boy who had been diagnosed with severe seizures. After careful investigation, Dr. Navarange concluded that the child actually suffered from a condition that mimics seizures. The doctor took the child off of his medication immediately and placed him on a more appropriate medical track. “Dr. Navarange is extremely thorough,” Dean says. “ He has great clinical skills, good common sense and he really cares.” Continue reading “India’s Doctor of the Year Cares for Holt Kids”