Should We Buy a Ger?

These children in Mongolia needed a new gerWhen Mongolian adoptee Melissa gave a ger as a Gift of Hope to a child and family in need in Mongolia, it began a special connection to a child living in her birth country.

Hello, my name is Melissa and I am your sponsor. When I was younger, my name was Davaasetseg, which is very similar to your name, Battsetseg. I do not know if you were told this, but I was adopted from Mongolia at the age of 3…

These were the first lines of the first letter I sent to my sponsored child, Battsetseg, just last July. A year ago, I never would have guessed I would be corresponding with a child from my birth country of Mongolia! But it all started last Christmas, when my family decided to give a Gift of Hope…

In my family, like many, part of how we celebrate the holidays is by giving and receiving gifts. Last Christmas, we received Holt’s Gifts of Hope catalog, and looked at all the different kinds of gifts you could give to a family in need. We saw an image of a young boy proudly standing in front of a ger, which prompted my mom to ask, “Should we buy a ger?”

Continue reading “Should We Buy a Ger?”

Their Home is Not Safe

Families living without safe shelter face all kinds of threats — especially during the rainy season in Cambodia. Ten-year-old Linna lives in the city. Eleven-year-old Thak Kan lives in a more rural area. Neither of them have a safe place to live. 

Thak Kan sits between his parents as his mom wipes tears from her eyes and his dad holds his little sister in his lap. His little brother sits on the other side of his mom. Thak Kan looks down, his brow knit tightly together. Sleepy, he rests his head on his dad’s shoulder. He is 11, but looks small for his age.

“How do you feel when it rains really hard?”

“Scared,” he says. His voice is sweet, soft and high. Continue reading “Their Home is Not Safe”

Because They Are Brave

For generations, women and girls in Cambodia were taught not to speak their minds or stand up for their rights. But step by step, and with the support of sponsors and donors, they are learning to stand up, speak up and go after their dreams.

Sela sits in the Holt Cambodia office in Phnom Penh.
Sela sits in the Holt Cambodia office in Phnom Penh.

Sela’s voice quivers a bit as she speaks. She is slight and girlish, in jeans and a V-neck shirt, her dark hair pulled back in a ponytail and long bangs swept across her forehead. A large, black, practical watch overwhelms her slender wrist. Continue reading “Because They Are Brave”

A New Hope, A New Cow

After Dat’s father caught malaria and died three years ago, his mom was forced to sell their only cow to pay off their debts. In this story, the family’s local caseworker in Vietnam shares what happened when a generous donor replaced the family’s cow — and the family’s hope. 

Dat builds a sand bridge with bricks and sand in front of his home in southern Vietnam.
Dat builds a sand bridge with bricks and sand in front of his home in southern Vietnam.

“What are you building?” I ask Dat, the little boy playing on a small sand dune by the entrance to the house. He answers me as he continues to collect sand and pile it onto broken bricks.

“I’m building a sand bridge,” Dat answers in a soft voice without looking at me — his family’s caseworker.

“Is your mom home?” I ask.

Dat continues working on his sand bridge. ‘She’s in the field now,’ he says. Continue reading “A New Hope, A New Cow”

5 Ways School Supplies Change Kids’ Lives

In developing countries around the world, going to school means much more than learning.

At the Yesus Mena Deaf School in Shinshicho, Ethiopia, Holt donors provide the books and supplies that children need to learn.  Many of these kids had no way to communicate before this sign language-based school opened in their community!

But before children can go to school, they need — and are often required to have — specific school supplies. The cost of supplies and uniforms are often too high for families living in poverty — causing children to drop out early. Below, we list five ways that your gift of school supplies can change kids’ lives.

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Only One, But Still One

When 7-year-old Amelia Rose Cook learned about one girl’s need for a cleft lip surgery, she decided to help not just one but many kids — sending a ripple of kindness throughout her community, and the world.

Amelia with her mom and dad and brother, Jameson.
Amelia with her mom and dad and brother, Jameson.

I can’t remember exactly when I felt a sense of urgency to teach my children Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” This verse inspired me to start a kindness project in our home from the time my children were extremely young. I felt led to teach them that kindness should exude from them as natural as breathing. Kindness and love should be the very essence of our Christian lives. 

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A Dream To Save

Before a sponsor starting supporting her, Mekdes wasn’t sure if she could even stay in school in her rural community of Ethiopia  — much less follow her dream of becoming a doctor.

Eighteen-year-old Mekdes dreams of becoming a doctor one day.  Today, she is close to realizing her dream. Ten years ago, however, Mekdes’ future seemed uncertain.

Though bright and driven, Mekdes faced overwhelming challenges, and her family’s economic status seemed to dictate another path entirely — a path not nearly as bright, and certainty not one that would lead to a medical profession, or even an education.

Before sponsors and donors began supporting them, Mekdes and her family struggled to overcome their dire circumstances. But, today, they have hope.
Before sponsors and donors began supporting them, Mekdes and her family struggled to overcome their dire circumstances. But, today, they have hope.

Continue reading “A Dream To Save”

Keeping His Promise

Two years ago, Holt donors gave Lhagvajav a brand new “ger” — a traditional Mongolian home — in which to raise his six children. He promised that he would work hard, and help his children succeed. He has lived up to his promise.  

Two years ago, we visited Lhagvajav and his family at their home on the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar. It was the last day of a week-long trip with a group of Holt donors who had traveled to see the work — and meet the children and families — they support through their generous giving. Before traveling, the donors also provided the funds to build new gers, or traditional Mongolian homes, for four families in greatest need.

Lhagvajav’s family was one of the four families that received a new ger. Continue reading “Keeping His Promise”

In Every Moment, You’re There

A few years ago, Mary Luz thought she might have to make the heartbreaking decision to leave her children in someone else’s care. But then she discovered a Holt donor-supported program in her community. And now, in every moment, she’s there.

At home, in a special place, Mary Luz keeps a collection of cards. Each card has a message inside, written in crayon or colored pen.

“Mama, I want to tell you that you’re the best, and in every moment and place, you’re there,” reads one message written by her daughter, Camilla. “You’re my right hand. You’re my light. You’re my joy, my sadness, my company, my everything. With Love, Camilla.”

Inside another hand-cut in the shape of a heart, the message reads, “On this day, I want to tell you that I love you. And I love you with a lot of love.” This card came from both her children, 5-year-old David and 9-year-old Camilla.

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Confidence, and a Cow

When her husband became ill, Dinknesh suddenly had to provide for her family on her own. She didn’t know where to begin, and her family quickly fell into poverty. Then sponsors and donors came together to empower Dinknesh, giving her two of the most powerful Gifts of Hope — confidence, and a cow.

Like many women in rural Ethiopia, Dinknesh had a more traditional role in her family before her husband fell sick. She worked incredibly hard to maintain her home and care for her two sons while her husband, a farmer, worked the fields to bring in an income and meet the basic needs of their family.

But when he became ill, he could not work and was bedridden for months.

Suddenly, Dinknesh had to provide for her children on her own.

Continue reading “Confidence, and a Cow”