Though the Earth Give Way

Holt’s work in Haiti after the earthquake…and how you can help

Near Port-au-Prince Airport Road, in a Haitian community called Village Solidarite, 22-year-old Nahomie holds in her arms her ailing 2-year-old daughter, Nournia. Nahomie has just returned from her fourth trip in eight months to St. Catherine hospital in Cite Soleil – a slum of Port-au-Prince. Nournia, they tell her, is extremely malnourished. She also has tuberculosis.

Abandoned by Nournia’s father, Nahomie earns what she can as a part-time housekeeper, but it’s not enough. Unable to provide the care her daughter needs, Nahomie stands helpless as Nournia wails in pain and hunger. Nahomie begins to weep with Nournia. She weeps for her mother, who died one year ago, and weeps for her poor daughter. It seems impossible that their situation could get much worse.

And then the sun rose on January 12th, 2010.

In just 60 seconds, 230,000 people were dead. Millions were homeless and an estimated one million children were orphaned. For many already living in the clutches of poverty and hunger, life became even grimmer.

“I had never seen a city so devastated as Port-au-Prince,” says Will Dantzler, Holt International’s board chairman, who traveled to Haiti in June. “To see the hopelessness and emptiness of spirit in so many people as we drove through the city shed light on the magnitude of this disaster, and its long-term effect on an entire society.”

Just two of millions whose lives changed forever, Nahomie and Nournia lost their one source of stability in the January 12th earthquake – their home.

After five months living in the streets, Nahomie sat in a church service in Port-au-Prince and prayed. Prayed for her daughter, prayed to survive. Here, she heard of a temporary care program offered by Holt Fontana d’ Haiti – Holt International’s partner in Haiti. Nahomie applied and her daughter was accepted into a 3-month temporary care program at Holt Fontana Village in the western city of Montrouis.

“Nahomie said it was the first time in years she felt a moment of joy,” says Mansour Masse, Holt Haiti director. “Her daughter would be taken care of.”

Continue reading “Though the Earth Give Way”

Thailand Update from Ally: Helping the Children Who Wait

Children with special needs in Thailand find strength in the face of challenges

University of Oregon graduate Ally Tritten is currently in Thailand working with Holt Sahathai Foundation (HSF) as an intern with IE3 Global Internships. Ally, a family and human services major, will work for HSF for six months, helping to find homes for 200 children with special needs. The children are currently in government-run child institutions in Thailand; some of them will eventually be placed into Holt’s Waiting Child program.

“I am really excited for this trip,” says Ally. “I look forward to learning more about Holt International, their work in Thailand, and to be able to provide services to children.”

Holt established a partnership with HSF in 1975. HSF serves a large number of vulnerable children through a variety of programs including adoption, pregnancy counseling, foster care, educational sponsorships and outreach services for children in hospitals and orphanages. Many of these programs help birth families stay together through counseling and assistance.

The following is an update from Ally about her first full month in Thailand (Click here to read Ally’s first blog update):

Bangkok, Thailand — I am still adjusting to my new life in Bangkok. For the last month and a half Pi Tuk, Pi Malee and I have coordinated with Child Adoption Center (another adoption agency in Thailand) and assessed approximately 30 children with special needs, all of whom live in governmental orphanages and have been diagnosed with various disabilities. Some of the common disabilities we see in the children are: cerebral palsy (CP), fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), microcephaly and macrocephaly, seizure disorders, visual and hearing impairment, delayed development, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and a variety of physical disabilities. Of the four orphanages we visited in the past month, two — Nong Khai Home for Boys and Udornthani Home for Girls — are located in the northeastern part of Thailand and the other two — Ban Fueng Fah Home for Children with Special Needs and Pakkret Babies Home — are located in a nearby province outside of Bangkok. The HSF social workers and I flew by airplane to the two northeastern orphanages and spent four days assessing the overall development of 14 children.

The majority of the other children in the project live in Ban Fueng Fah Home for Children with Special Needs, where we spent most of October interviewing each child’s caretaker, physical therapists and teachers, as well as completing our own individual assessments. Continue reading “Thailand Update from Ally: Helping the Children Who Wait”

Maggi Needs Your Help

Holt is now providing sponsorship for children in Guatemala

Just five days shy of *Maggi’s 4th birthday, any plans being made to celebrate her special day came to an abrupt halt. Instead, Maggi and her family fled their home in a panic, as tropical storm Agatha swept across Guatemala – taking the family’s already rundown home with her. Leaving over 150 people dead, several missing, and thousands homeless, Agatha was the second of back-to-back natural disasters to strike Guatemala last May.

On June 3rd, Maggi – extremely malnourished and anemic – spent her birthday in an encampment for families who had lost their homes in the storm. Sadly, this wasn’t the first time helpless and innocent Maggi had experienced such devastation. The tropical storm was the last of many distressing events to befall Maggi’s family, who had already been suffering from extreme poverty and malnourishment.

In response to this crisis, and the needs of children like Maggi, Holt International immediately began identifying and helping families who had lost their homes. Working in Guatemala since 1986, Holt currently provides family preservation services for desperate children and families in this area.  Many of the children affected by the natural disasters, including Maggi, are now in Holt’s child sponsorship program and need continuing support. Continue reading “Maggi Needs Your Help”

Amesegenallo – an adoption story from a sister’s perspective

The journey that changed my life

by Alexa Dantzler

Exactly one year ago, my parents told me news that forever changed my life. One evening, my parents gathered us in the living room. We called our oldest sister, Dana, at college. And then my dad said, with a grand smile on his face, “Girls, your mother and I have decided to begin the adoption process of a little boy, in an age range between 4 and 7, from Ethiopia. We know you have always wanted a little brother. Now, the opportunity has presented itself to us.” After hearing this, it seemed as though our living room turned into a water park – we all broke into tears.

I was so overcome with joy and excitement that I could barely sleep that night. I prayed, asking God and St. Charles – the patron saint of orphans and adoption – to please watch over our adoption process and let it progress quickly. From that night on, I prayed every night for my brother’s health and spirit.

In June, we were matched with our little man, Berhanu. He was four years old and looked so adorable that I wanted to just take him out of the photo, hug and squeeze him. It was so exciting to hear my dad read Berhanu’s monthly health and social assessments, and see updated pictures of him. Finally, one afternoon, my dad called us. It was early December. He told us that we should start packing our bags – on Christmas day, we would pick up our “little prince” in Ethiopia!

All of a sudden, it was December 23rd. I was more than ready to take off for Ethiopia! We arrived in the capital city of Addis Ababa on Christmas Day, which was actually night in Ethiopia. When I stepped out of the airport and into the night air, I sensed a feeling of returning home, as though I just belonged in Ethiopia. In bed that night, I still couldn’t believe we were finally there, and that my brother was sleeping peacefully right next door in the Addis Ababa transition center. Continue reading “Amesegenallo – an adoption story from a sister’s perspective”

These are the fruits…

By Brian Campbell, Director of Creative Services

Pune, IndiaBefore the first call of birds, the morning is greeted by the beeping of horns. Little auto rickshaws and scooters buzz through the streets of Pune, and vendors – selling all sorts of goods –  prepare their services for the day.

Outside his tidy, modest home, *Sanjay arranges green pears on his cart.  A smile breaches his face as he talks about his family and his small, successful fruit stand – the stand he utilizes to keep his family together and his children in school.  His daughter, *Ahsha, stands beside him in her crisp, clean uniform ready to start her school day.  She stands tall and proud, practicing a few common English greetings and beaming with satisfaction at our group’s approval. A smile and a glow of pride overtakes Sanjay’s face.

Today, Sanjay’s family, thanks to Bharatiya Samaj Seva Kendra (BSSK),  is thriving.

Just a few months ago, however, this scenario didn’t seem likely.

The family struggled under economic pressures.  Sanjay’s future as a truck driver was uncertain, and his children, in order to put food on the table, almost had to quit school and join the workforce.  Identified by community input and social workers from BSSK, Sanjay was provided with a micro loan to start a fruit stand business.

Today, long-term stability is a reality for this family. Sanjay looks forward to growing his small business and even plans on purchasing a motorized truck for selling and buying fruit. His son plans to graduate and become a police officer, and his daughter is looking forward to completing the 5th grade.

The fruits of family preservation and child sponsorship.

*names have been changed

“All Things Are Possible”

Senior Writer Robin Munro discusses her experience at a Holt-supported foster care program in Northern China.

by Robin Munro

Jilin City, China—Today, we drove to a small farming village just outside of Jilin City, a forested, mountainous region of Northern China where Holt sponsors foster care for 39 children. Here, amid lush green acres of corn stalks, rice fields and gable-roofed homes, we meet several of the children in our sponsorship program. Ducking out of the rain, we step into an unoccupied house – recently built by the village – where the families have gathered, anticipating our arrival. I am with Sue Liu, the Beijing office manager and assistant to Jian Chen, Holt’s China director; Jessica Palmer, Holt’s Waiting Child program manager; and a couple officials from the Jilin City Social Welfare Institute, with whom Holt has partnered since introducing a foster care project to this region in 2006.

I find a windowsill in which to sit and observe the scene – foster mothers sitting in a circle on the floor, cooing over babies swaddled in blankets as Sue and Jessica assess the children’s development and the foster care manager distributes formula and food. One boy – an older boy of about 9 or 10 – comes over to talk to me. “Hello,” he says in English, smiling. “Hello,” I say back, followed by a couple more simple phrases. He shakes his head, not understanding. “Ok,” I say. And he repeats. “Ok.” He wants to learn, wants to engage me with any means of communication he can find. I give him a thumbs-up. And he lifts his hand to mimic me.

But even this – this universal symbol for a job well done – he can’t use to communicate.   Continue reading ““All Things Are Possible””

The Gift of Compassion

by Brenna Bonner

I had barely heard the last few words of the radio advertisement for the Secret Keeper Girl event, but I did hear it, and four weeks later my daughter, five friends and myself were on our way to the event. On the night before Mother’s Day, our spirits were high and we looked forward to a fun evening.

The Secret Keeper Girl presentation captivated us from the very start. We sang worship music, listened to teachings on modesty, watched a fashion show, and learned what God says about our true beauty.

Those events were just the beginning, however. The Holy Spirit had just begun to speak.

As intermission approached, the presenters on stage switched gears, and Secret Keeper Girl Creator, Dannah Gresh, shared the story of how she was lead by God to adopt a child through Holt International. She also discussed Holt’s Child Sponsorship Program. I was riveted.

Over the last four years, I had visited many child sponsorship tables at concerts, ministry events and Christian conferences. I would often respond to the nudging of the Holy Spirit and go looking for the one child that caught my eye. Would I choose a boy? A girl? A child from Romania? China? Honduras? Should I choose an older child? An infant? Before I knew it, I had let loud worldly questions drown out God’s voice…but on this night, at the Secret Keeper Girl event, things would be different. Continue reading “The Gift of Compassion”

Investing in the Lives of Others

A youth group sponsors a child at a Winter jam concert

In order to reach kids with the Gospel in this day and age, you have to do it on their level. That’s why I love taking our group to Winter Jam each year. It features the greatest Christian artists of our day with a message that glorifies God. Our kids have such a great time, and it’s great to see how it changes their lives as they draw closer to God and make right decisions.

This year started off no different, but, as we were enjoying the show, God was working in the background. The earthquakes in Haiti had just taken place a few days prior, and I used it as a discussion in our classroom to point out that we aren’t promised tomorrow so we need to do what we can to reach those around us today. Then Newsong came out and presented the ministry of Holt International. As they were presenting, I looked around and saw the compassion in our group. When we had the opportunity we went down and found a little baby from Haiti.

His name is John Peter, but our group calls him “Lil’ H”, for little Haiti. It’s a term of endearment to these kids. We raise the money for the sponsorship independent of regular offerings, and the response has been great! One particular Sunday, a preteen girl gave her entire piggy bank full of change. That same day, another kid gave his whole allowance. When I ask for prayer needs, they are constantly reminding me to pray for Lil’ H. I’m overwhelmed on how God is teaching our kids to invest in the lives of others. We live in a selfish society where people are asking, “what can you do for me?”, but thanks to the opportunity given to us by Holt International, they are truly learning what it means to serve God by serving others.

Sponsor a child in need today!

Volunteer at or attend a Winter Jam Concert near you!

Winter Jam Off to a Great Start

Winter Jam 2010, a concert tour featuring Christian artists like: Newsboys, Third Day, and hosted by Newsong, continues to be a major force in raising awareness and support for orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children overseas.

The tour, so far, has seen many generous and caring people make the decision to help a child through Holt International’s sponsorship program, and the tour still has 2 full months of touring dates left.   Speaker, Tony Nolan, has offered hope and helped pave the way for orphaned and abandoned children to be given the assistance they desperately need.

A recent newsstory from Urban Christian News reports on Winter Jam 2010’s record-breaking start.   Also, see locations and venues for  remaining concerts and sign up to volunteer to help concert-goers as they select children to sponsor.

Urban Christian News:

Following the first six dates, Christian music’s largest annual tour, the Winter Jam 2010 Tour Spectacular, has kicked-off with the highest average attendance in its 15-year history. Launching January 8 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Winter Jam has seen nearly 63,000 attendees to date, an average spike of more than 9% from last year, making history for the Tour franchise. Concerts at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Florida, each drew crowds in excess of 13,000. In addition, Winter Jam has facilitated 1,401 sponsorship commitments to adoption and child welfare organization Holt International, to help meet the needs of orphaned children around the world. Continue reading “Winter Jam Off to a Great Start”