In the progressive tech capital of India, jobs and work are plentiful — and while this is good news overall, some of the adverse side effects from rapid urbanization and an increasing migrant population make caring for orphaned and abandoned children with special needs particularly challenging. During a visit to partner program Swanthana in April, Holt Creative Lead Billie Loewen met the children and caregivers most affected by these challenges.
A pair of deep, brown eyes peer curiously around the corner of a dark hallway. Pushing herself through a doorway, a small girl with short hair and a long purple dress appears in an old, metal wheelchair. She keeps her head low, her eyes shielded behind a red headscarf. Her short hair is held back with a barrette and a bindi decorates her forehead.
Alyssa is 16 years old, and she is paralyzed from the waist down. Abandoned by her family years ago, likely due to her disability, Alyssa has lived in a home for children with profound special needs for three years. She is one of the few residents at her care center who is able to express her thoughts verbally. Her voice is quiet, but in English she will tell you about her dreams.
Alyssa wants to be a teacher, someday, and teach little children how to dream big. She wants to live independently.
Anh* loves the color pink. She looks for it everywhere. In pictures. On toys. In the basket of colorful bouncy balls the children play with at her care center in northern Vietnam. So when her caregiver asks her to select a pair of shoes from the cupboard, her eyes naturally fall on the hot pink heels peeking out of the pile. Anh slips her feet into the pink sandals and practices walking along the balcony and up and down the stairs — her heels click-clacking on the hard ceramic tile.
For Anh, walking in heels is more than playing dress-up. For Anh, learning to put on shoes, walk down stairs, take off shoes and put them back in the cupboard is part of the occupational therapy she receives every Monday-Friday. With each step, she is learning a new skill.
A 6-year-old girl with short silky black hair and milky skin, Anh is the only child with special needs at her care center. Found abandoned at about 3 years old in the streets of Hanoi, she was diagnosed with autism shortly after coming into care. Anh cannot speak, but she engages the world in other ways. She does not hesitate to jump in your arms or sit in your lap, and easily takes the hand of her therapist or responds in kind to a “high five” — raising her arms and gently mirroring the gesture. Continue reading “Anh’s Story”
For 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.
Mothers 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! 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.