How the Pandemic Caused a Malnutrition Crisis in Ethiopia

EthiopiaHolt’s nutrition program director, Emily DeLacey, shares about the current malnutrition crisis in Ethiopia, and how Holt staff and donors are helping to identify, feed and treat children.

While it’s never easy serving the most vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations, this is just the nature of going the distance to best serve children and families in need. And this is what Holt staff around the world and generous Holt donors do every day. In rural Ethiopia, this means faithfully serving thousands of single mother-headed households and children who have been orphaned.

But now, during this time of COVID, our challenges in Ethiopia have multiplied…

And our biggest concern for the children is malnutrition.

Continue reading “How the Pandemic Caused a Malnutrition Crisis in Ethiopia”

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”

It Takes a Village: Holt Sponsors Change Lives in Ethiopia

Shinshicho — a district capital in southern Ethiopia.

Ten years ago, Holt sponsors began supporting children and families in the impoverished community of Shinshicho — a district capital in southern Ethiopia where goats and cattle still roam the unpaved roads that lead through town, few homes or businesses have electricity or running water, and donkeys are the primary mode of transportation.

Here, as throughout Ethiopia, years of civil war and drought have robbed many families of their livelihoods, while famine and illness have robbed many children of their parents. Most families in rural Ethiopia subsist on what they can grow on small plots of land, which is often just barely enough to feed their families. But in 2008, when Holt began working alongside local leaders and community elders, life began to change for many children and families in Shinshicho. Continue reading “It Takes a Village: Holt Sponsors Change Lives in Ethiopia”

The Story Behind the Photo: 86 and Counting


At the beginning of November, to kick off National Adoption Month, we shared a collage of all the children on our waiting child photolisting — just a small glimpse of the hundreds of children who we are seeking families for at any given time. We hoped it would kindle a passion in our supporters to help advocate for children who need loving families of their own. And it did!

You shared our waiting child stories. You reposted our advocacy blogs. You helped us tell the story behind each and every photo that we featured on social media during National Adoption Month.

The photo above represents the number of children from our photolisting that we have — thanks in part to your advocacy — matched with families so far in 2016. The black and white blocks represent the children who now are, or soon will be, part of a loving and secure family. The ones in color represent the children who we still need your help advocating for.

In total this year, Holt has matched 86 children from the photolisting — and another 200+ directly with a family! This is something to celebrate!

But we seek a world where every child has a loving and secure home. And until that day comes, we intend to keep working hard to advocate for the children left behind — and we ask you to join us.

One of the best ways that you can support our advocacy efforts is through sharing the stories we post about waiting children. That can be anything from pressing “like” or “share” on Facebook to leading an informational meeting in your community. Creativity is encouraged and we look forward to hearing what you come up with!

Thank you again for your heart and compassion for children who need families. Allied with you, we can achieve anything!
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The Story Behind the Photo: What Social Workers Actually Do…

With stern faces and plastic inspection gloves, adoption social workers Kris Bales and Kathie Stocker illustrate what prospective families THINK they do — not what they ACTUALLY do.

Social workers. They come into your home with a white glove and a watchful eye. They check under your bed for dust mites. They go through your medicine cabinet. They call your neighbors to inquire how long you wait to mow your lawn. They take note of every imperfection, just looking for a reason not to approve your family for adoption.

Is that about what you had in mind?­­

Well meet Kathie Stocker and Kris Bales, two of Holt’s most devoted — and beloved — social workers. Kathie has worked with Holt for 23 years and Kris for 14. K­athie is often the first person families hoping to adopt from Korea will speak to, while Kris advises families interested in the China program. Both and have guided hundreds of families through their adoption process. At Christmas time, their walls are covered in cards from families and photos of children they’ve helped place. Both will be the first to tell you that the job of a social worker is not to be taken lightly — entrusting a family with a child is no small decision. But they will also tell you that the homestudy process is not about judgment. No family is perfect. And neither are they.

Above all, their passion — and their role — is to find the right family for every child.

Today on the Holt blog, learn more about what Kris and Kathie ACTUALLY do as adoption social workers for Holt.

Continue reading “The Story Behind the Photo: What Social Workers Actually Do…”

Building on a Promise

A photo essay and update on the mother and child hospital Holt is helping to build in Shinshicho, Ethiopia.

The front of the maternal-child hospital. The round portion in the right of the photo is a ramp large enough for hospital staff to transport patient beds from floor to floor. When the hospital is complete, the ramp will be encased in large glass windows.

In 2010, the Holt-funded maternal-child hospital in Shinshicho, Ethiopia didn’t start off looking like much — just hollow cement walls framed by rough wood scaffolding. Without a roof or floor, rain turned the empty, 40,000 square foot space into a giant, mud-splattered maze. It was hard to imagine the finished product. But hundreds of people believed in the space — believed it was a place the Lord would bless — and together, through sacrifices of time and money, the humble foundation has begun to transform into a state-of-the-art health care center, complete with surgical labs, X-ray rooms and more than 100 doctors trained in advanced care. And with the transformation of the building has come an improved livelihood for families in the region.

Continue reading “Building on a Promise”

Still, an Orphanage

Holt President and CEO Phil Littleton just returned from a trip to Holt’s programs for children and families in Ethiopia. Here, he blogs about his visit to a few of our partnering care centers in country.

Tuesday, Oct 15 — Today, we will be visiting three orphanages supported by Holt.  You never really quite know what to expect when you enter an orphanage.  Will the children be older? Are there many infants, recently abandoned?  Are the children sick, or in good health?

I asked Holt’s country representative, Tamarat, if these were good orphanages that we would be visiting. He said, “Yes, very good orphanages, but still an orphanage.” That comment stuck in my mind. It is so true — an orphanage can be well run and provide good care, but it’s still an orphanage.

Children do not belong in orphanages… That is not where they should grow up.

Unfortunately, in our broken world, orphanages are a way of life in many countries.  At Holt, we believe in trying every day to get kids out of orphanages — in finding a way to get children back with their birth families. In the meantime, we strive to place them in the loving care of a family in their community, through foster care. And when reuniting a child with their extended birth family is not possible, we turn to international adoption.

On this day, I met a little 3-year-old named Mashukan.  When I walked into the room, she put her arms out to me as if to say, ‘Please pick me up.’  Once in my arms, she just wanted me to take her wherever she pointed. So I did.

She was one of the healthy ones — a beautiful little girl, needing someone to pick her up out of the crib.  My thought was, ‘We have to find a way to get this little girl into a home.’

By the end of the day, we visited three very good orphanages, and I am proud of our work and dedicated staff and partners here in Ethiopia. But I’m also reminded that, at the end of the day… it’s still an orphanage.

Click here to learn more about our work in Ethiopia.

To learn more about Holt’s mission and model of services to children, click here.

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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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.

Continue reading “Every Child Deserves A Family… And An Education!”

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.

Continue reading “The Lives They Saved”