Phil Littleton, Holt International’s president and CEO, is currently in Thailand visiting Holt’s longtime partner Holt Sahathai Foundation (HSF), and spending some time with HSF foster families and the children in their care. For over 35 years, Holt has worked in cooperation with HSF to serve the needs of homeless and at risk children and families in Thailand.
As of October 27th, the Ministry of Health in Haiti reports at least 303 people dead and more than 4,700 sickened by a cholera epidemic that’s swept through Haiti’s northern regions in the past week.
“There have been no cases to date that have been reported that have affected any Holt children or families,” says Sarah Halfman, Holt’s director of programs in Latin America, Haiti and Romania. “As for preparing a coordinated response to the outbreak at this time for the families in the family preservation program, ongoing preventative education on cholera and hygiene seems to be the best course of action.”
Holt Senior Writer Robin Munro is traveling with Waiting Child Manager Jessica Palmer to learn more about a new group of children in Holt’s Journey of Hope program.
Robin Munro, Senior Writer—Today, we visited a beautiful orphanage in Northern China – a place full of color and life. Each room opened onto another group of faces – curious, apprehensive, wide-eyed faces. Most of these children have special needs, conditions beyond which most birth families have the capacity to provide medical care – conditions like cleft lip and palate, CP, Down’s Syndrome, Spina bifida, feet and hand deformities, as well as a few cases of pneumonia.
In the first room we enter, metal barred cribs line the wall. In each, a child sits or lays, staring at the ceiling, the wall, or nothing in particular – into middle space. These children have some of the most severe conditions. Most don’t seem to notice our presence in the room – don’t jump up, or cry, or reach out to us. I walk over to one boy, who lifts his head when I touch his back. His head is swollen from Hydrocephalus, a condition in which water gets onto the brain. In some cases, this condition is minor and won’t interfere with the child’s life. But this boy’s condition is serious, says Sue Liu, the Beijing office manager. As I rub his back, he begins to smile. When I stop, he stares at me blankly. I gently touch him again, and his smile returns. Continue reading “Who do you see?”
In July of 2010, Holt’s senior writer visited the Peace House, a haven for sick children who come from all over China to receive medical care in Beijing — many of them suffering from serious medical conditions. After leaving the hospital, the children recuperate at the Peace House. Many go on to join adoptive families. Since this article was written, Holt took over operations from Peace House founder, Teresa Huangwu. In that time, five children have received surgeries, and a sixth will soon come to stay at this nurturing and peaceful sanctuary in the heart of the city.
Robin Munro, Senior Writer—At the Peace House in Beijing, the floor is where the action is. A ball flies at me from one direction. From another, a baby comes crawling to investigate. The children seem intrigued by my foreign blue eyes. My camera. My notebook. My purse. Especially my purse.
While otherwise occupied in a game of catch, I feel a sudden tug on my shoulder straps, and look down to find a sticky-fingered hand first unzipping, then probing the contents of my bag. Here I find Jhi Lin (name has been changed), who’s discovered a little bottle of hand sanitizer. Clutching it in his hand, he makes for the bedroom and tries to shut the door. I catch it, and follow him in. Dismayed, he takes my hand and ushers me back out. I follow him in. Back out we go. The look on his face says, “Silly lady, don’t you see – I want to be alone with this bottle of green goo, my new-found treasure!”
Finally, a caretaker comes to intervene. Jhi Lin graciously accepts his defeat, and hands the bottle back. “Xie Xie,” I say. Thank you. He smiles, and moves on to explore other frontiers.
Jhi Lin will turn 3 in August. Full of life, full of moxie, he is a dark-haired, bright-eyed mischief-maker – a typical toddler. He came to the Peace House one year ago, where he stayed while Peace House foster mother, Teresa Huangwu, raised funds for his heart surgery. His condition was severe – a congenital heart defect that causes what’s commonly known as “blue baby syndrome.” This surgery cost over $100,000, which healed him completely – a feat accomplished by love alone.
“Teresa finds the resources to do the surgeries,” says Jian Chen, Holt’s China program director. “It’s not her work. It’s purely out of love.”
Teresa Huangwu started her unofficial work as a foster mother after inspiration struck, eight years ago, while working as a volunteer caretaker in an orphanage. While washing a malnourished baby with a cleft lip, she thought how much better a child could be nourished to health in a warm, cozy home environment than in a sterile institution. A small home, where a sick child could get constant nurture from a loving caregiver. “I just thought, ‘If we could just take the baby home and nurse him,’” she says. “And then bring him back.”
In August of 2003, she founded the Peace House – a haven for sick children from all over China who come to Beijing for medical care. A clean, cozy apartment cluttered with toys, the Peace House is just that: a peaceful place of healing and nurture. Its location in Beijing is critical – it enables the children to get the best medical care in the country. After surgery, they stay here until their condition stabilizes – until they are ready for adoption.
A mother is able to provide for her family with the help of Holt International’s family preservation program
Brian Campbell, Creative Services Director
An excerpt from Brian’s Travel Diary while in Ethiopia.
Durame, Ethiopia—I met an old friend today. Not an old friend from my childhood or college. Rather, a friend I encountered on my first trip to Ethiopia in February of 2008. Messenich is a smiling, healthy mother of two delightful daughters today, but this was not the reality when we met in 2008. Holt International had just introduced our family preservation services to the Durame and Shinshicho areas in southern Ethiopia. Recently widowed and the mother of three daughters, Messenich’s situation had been brought to Holt’s attention after her youngest daughter had been relinquished into Holt’s care. I traveled with two social workers to Messenich’s home to see what we could do to help preserve the remaining family and give them hope for a better future.
When I traveled there for the first time, I remembered thinking that Messenich’s home was tidy and the structure was sound and sturdy. The sturdiness of the home, however, was the only stability this mother had. In poor health and with almost no food to provide her children, Messenich waited for us in her dimly lit home, sitting politely with her hands folded and her eyes down-turned. As she spoke about her children and retold her story to the social workers,