Decades of Dedication

Holt is blessed to have thousands of devoted child sponsors, including more than 1,300 families who have consistently sponsored children for more than 20 years. What inspires their commitment to caring for children they’ve never met, even through times of hardship?

by Billie Loewen, Staff Writer

A recent photo of Linda and Chris Bell with their daughters at Christmas time.

Nearly 30 years ago, Linda and Chris Bell were planning to add one child to their family. They never would have guessed that adding one would inspire them to add 15 more.

After Linda and Chris adopted their daughter Stacy in 1984, they learned that an American family had sponsored Stacy through Holt International while she was in care in Korea.

“We were so thankful for the care that Stacy had received, we wanted to join the sponsorship program,” Linda says. Linda took her children to Holt’s main office, where they looked at the pictures of children in sponsorship, and read each child’s story.

They chose to sponsor a boy from Thailand — the first of nearly 15 children they’ve sponsored over the past 20 years.

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There’s room for you on Holt’s India Vision Trip!

So you’ve been thinking about joining us on our vision trip to India this November 12-23, but haven’t made an official decision. Well, we have some good news for you … there have been some last-minute cancellations, which means there’s room for you on the trip!

Whether you’re a Holt child sponsor, an adoptive parent, adoptee, Holt donor, or just someone who wishes to see Holt projects up close and personal — to meet the children and families we serve — this trip is for you!

Holt has enjoyed a long history in India.  And today, the child welfare organizations Holt helped to establish continue to diversify their services, and remain a significant part of Holt’s legacy.

This year, one of Holt’s partners in India, Vathsalya Charitable Trust (VCT), celebrates 25 years of serving children and families. Vision Trip members will help honor their service with a special celebration.

Of course, you will also interact with children in Holt’s care at VCT and Bharatiya Samaj Seva Kendra (BSSK) on this exciting trip. On Children’s Day, November 14th, you’ll even get to help throw a special celebration! You’ll also meet families in our family strengthening program and learn more about Holt’s historic work in India.  A Taj Mahal trip is also part of the itinerary.

Click here for more details about Holt’s vision trip to India or feel free to email our vision trip coordinator, Sally Dougherty,   at

Threads of Hope

Vocational training in Uganda provides more than job security to rural women

Sometimes, hope comes in a box. A cardboard box, taped shut, in the middle of a room with dirt floors, a tin roof and no walls. And not just one box, but 25, each heavy with 20 pounds of industrial-grade hope. Under the same roof, 25 eager, smiling women are ready to tear through the boxes’ packaging. They’ve been waiting for today. While they waited, they built the structure they stand in now — a place to house their hope. Every day, they’ve walked to this place, some of them for painstaking hours through rain and mud with their youngest children in their arms. And now, the boxes are here.

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A Mother’s Final Gift

In Vietnam, the financial stability of a cow can be enough to keep a family together

Kim-Ly with her husband and two children.

Motherhood creates a universal connection. Regardless of skin color or culture, economic status or professional achievement, all mothers share a profound desire to protect and provide for their young. It overpowers everything — compelling them to put to their own needs aside for the sake of their child.

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Sprint Triathlon

Proceeds from upcoming sprint triathlon in Oregon will help support Holt’s family preservation program in Ethiopia

Andrea Janssen with her family.

What do you do when an opportunity to support a great charity is paired with an opportunity to do something great for your body? You run with it. Or, in this case, you run, swim and bike! At least, that’s the hope of Andrea Janssen, founder and organizer of the annual Triathlon for Hunger sprint triathlon in John Day, Ore. Half the proceeds raised from this year’s August 24 race will benefit Holt’s family strengthening and preservation program in Ethiopia, while the other proceeds will go to local food banks.

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A Vision of Beauty and Hope

On Holt’s first vision trip to China, participants visit two rural communities where Holt helps struggling families to care for their children. In one community heavily affected by HIV/AIDS, educational sponsorship has helped many children to graduate high school and go on to college and careers.

by Robin Munro, Managing Editor

At the civil affairs office in Yuncheng, a city in China’s central Shanxi province, a formal meeting between local officials, a group of visiting Americans, and families in Holt’s family strengthening program is underway. The room falls quiet as a young girl stands to speak. She wears her glossy black hair up in a ponytail, revealing the little silver hoops in her ears and the hot pink temples of her glasses.

“Aunties and Uncles, I am 19 years old,” she says. “My parents divorced when I was young. Unfortunately, in 2009, my father died. He was the only person I could count on. At the time, I had no money to go to school. Holt gave support so I could go to school again.”

Through Holt sponsorship, these girls were able to complete their education. Pictured with vision trip participant and Holt sponsor Sally Weiner.

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Every Child Deserves A Family… And An Education!

A school for Deaf children opens in Shinshicho, Ethiopia, where Holt is working to strengthen many struggling families. Holt is now raising funds to help support the school.

by LaDonna Greiner, Director of Donor Relations

Imagine opening a school with the anticipation of 50 students and 500 show up!  That’s what happened three years ago in the Kambata district of Ethiopia, when a local resident opened a school for the Deaf in the town of Shinshicho – where Holt serves many children and families.

No one knows exactly how many Deaf children there are in the area since they seldom venture far from their home.  Nor do they know why the numbers are so high in this region.  Could it be linked to the high incidence of malaria?  Is it genetic?  It’s difficult to say. But we do know that at least 500 hearing-impaired children live in Shinshicho. And the school only has room for 200 of them.

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The Lives They Saved

Earlier this year, Holt organized a medical campaign to the Shinshicho/Durame region of Ethiopia. Six American physicians — several of them Holt adoptive parents — volunteered a week of their time and resources to treat patients in this rural, impoverished area of the country. Over the week, they saved several lives. Some in truly extraordinary ways.

by Robin Munro, Senior Writer

Earlier this year, six American doctors traveled to southern Ethiopia as part of a medical team trip organized by Holt. They visited two healthcare facilities – a small health clinic in Shinshicho, and a hospital in neighboring Durame. Here, they were joined by two Ethiopian doctors who traveled from the city to help treat patients in this rural, impoverished region of the country.

Over the week-long campaign, they saw conditions rarely seen in the U.S. Goiters caused by iodine deficiency. A 3-year-old with legs paralyzed by polio. Malaria. Advanced wounds. And patient after patient with prolapsed uteruses and bladders – a consequence of constant physical labor, poor nutrition and long hard childbirths, often at a very young age.

They also met children that tugged at their hearts with soulful eyes and failing hearts or lungs. Some they had to turn away, unable to help them. Their conditions were too serious, the hospital’s resources too few.

But several lives, they did save. In one little one’s case, all it took was a little ingenuity, and an empty plastic water bottle.

A newborn baby Dr. Bannister helped to resuscitate. Basic resuscitation is one area in which the local staff could benefit from additional training.

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At Home With Atura’s Family

Earlier this year, Holt donor relations director LaDonna Greiner traveled to Ethiopia with a team of medical doctors from the U.S. Over a week, the doctors treated patients at medical clinics in the Shinshicho-Durame region of southern Ethiopia. While there, they also visited families Holt supports in the area through our family preservation program. Here, LaDonna shares the story of one family they met, and how Holt is helping to strengthen their circumstances for a brighter, healthier future.

by LaDonna Greiner, Holt Director of Donor Relations

Could you survive in a home that is collapsing around you? Atura* and her two daughters, Aselefech* and Aregash*, live in the home pictured here.

We travel over rough dusty roads and cattle paths to reach this rural region of Kebata.  As we walk toward the home, we are met by two beautiful young ladies and their mother.  The girls, Aselefech and Aregash, greet us with big smiles and a joyful presence. They are standing in front of a dilapidated hut. Thinking this is the barn, I ask the social worker, “Where is their home?”

Atura stands before the home where she and her two daughters live.

I’m shocked to learn they live in this crumbling abode.  One side of the hut has fallen in to the point that the roof nearly touches the ground.  The mud stucco has broken away in many places — how cold it must be on windy nights.  To enter the home, we must crouch down and lean sideways. But once inside, we notice the home is clean and neat.  Atura and her daughters are making the best of their difficult living conditions. If you can overlook the broken timbers and collapsing wall, it looks like a typical southern Ethiopian home.

Outside their disintegrating home sits a stack of poles destined to be the beginning of Atura’s new house.  It saddens my heart to see the living conditions of this happy family. I feel the urgent need to gather the group and begin building a new home.  How can we allow a family to live in these conditions?  Then I learn that Atura’s family is new to Holt’s family preservation program.

I remind myself that all things take time. Continue reading “At Home With Atura’s Family”