An Update on Our Work in Haiti

Despite significant changes in our adoption and sponsorship programs over the past year, we look forward to a year full of possibility for continuing our mission of ensuring stable, loving homes for children in Haiti.

Holt sponsors are now helping to meet this little girl’s needs.

At a small orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, tree limbs spread across one wall, branching in every direction. Falling from each limb like leaves are exactly 53 hearts. All but one of these hearts represents a child who died when the orphanage nursery collapsed in Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake. One heart is dedicated to a nurse who died while caring for these children.

At the time of the earthquake, 156 children lived in this orphanage. Today, about 60 children remain in care. Some of them are in temporary care and will later rejoin their families. Others are eligible to be adopted internationally.

Last month, Holt enrolled every one of these children in our sponsorship program. When the earthquake hit, it severely damaged the infrastructure of the orphanage, which has struggled to rebuild over the past five years. With few resources, the orphanage staff has also struggled to provide adequate care for the children. Through their monthly donation, Holt sponsors will help meet the nutritional and medical needs of the children. They will ease the financial burden on the orphanage so the staff can focus on rebuilding the structure and making it safe for the children. And ultimately, with support from Holt, the orphanage hopes to resume an education program for children in the community that abruptly stopped on January 12, 2010.

For Holt, this new partnership highlights a new direction and new momentum for our work in Haiti.

A little over a year ago, Holt was forced to suspend our sponsorship program for most of the children we serve in Haiti. Although we continued to meet the needs of children in care at Holt Fontana Village, rising costs in Haiti hampered our ability to serve children living with their families in the community. At the same time, the Haitian government ratified the Hague Convention — changing the process for international adoption from Haiti, and creating new guidelines for partnerships between agencies and orphanages. Whereas before, agencies worked directly with orphanage partners to find families for children, Haiti’s central adoption authority has now taken on the role of matching children referred for adoption to pre-approved adoptive families on their waiting list.  Although agencies can still provide non-adoption related support for orphanages, they no longer work together to find adoptive families for children. Continue reading “An Update on Our Work in Haiti”

Haiti Vision Trip 2012; A Photo Essay

Early last week, a team of ten departed for Haiti on Holt’s inaugural vision trip! Made up of sponsors, adoptive families and donors, the vision trip team spent five very full days immersed in work and play alongside Holt staff and the children we serve in Haiti. They got to know the children in our care at Holt Fontana Village. They met families in our family preservation program. They worked hand-in-hand with children from one of the schools Holt supports through educational sponsorship — cleaning and painting to get it ready for the coming 2012/2013 school year. And most of all, they saw first-hand the “why” and “how” of the work we do overseas, gaining greater insight into what they can do to further Holt’s mission. Together with supporters, sponsors and adoptive families like them — and like you — we can come closer to realizing our vision of a world where every child has a loving, secure home.

Click here and here to read blogs from vision trip participants! And watch for the fall Holt Magazine, which will feature stories and photos from the trip. Thank you to Sharon Boyd, Larry Carter and Sarah Halfman for contributing photos.

Continue reading “Haiti Vision Trip 2012; A Photo Essay”

Two Exciting Weeks for Holt in Haiti!

Sarah Halfman, Holt’s director of programs for Africa and Haiti, is currently in Haiti leading the first group of Vision Trip participants. But before meeting up with the group, Sarah spent a week at the Holt Fontana Village with Zeina Makhoul of the SPOON Foundation. Here at the Village, the care center Holt supports in Haiti, Zeina and Sarah completed the first assessment for a pilot nutrition screening program. Once complete, the nutrition screening will be implemented throughout our country programs — ensuring all children in Holt’s care receive the nutrition they need to grow and thrive!

by Sarah Halfman, Holt Director of Programs for Africa and Haiti

Sarah with children at the Holt Fontana Village, photo credit Zeina Makhoul.
Sept.8, 2012 — It’s an exciting two weeks here in Haiti!

Last week, Holt and the SPOON Foundation completed our first assessment together at the Holt Fontana Village! We have teamed up with the SPOON Foundation to pilot a nutrition screening and training program for orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children in our care. This program aims to deepen our knowledge in pediatric nutrition and feeding – SPOON’s specialties!! – and enhance our capacity to develop our very own experts in growth tracking, nutrition screening, feeding practices and training for staff. Together, we are working to ensure that the children in our care receive the best nutrition possible to allow them to grow and thrive!

At the beginning of last week, SPOON’s nutrition assessment specialist, Zeina Makhoul, joined me at the Holt Fontana Village to conduct the first of three assessments for this new initiative. She learned about Holt’s program in Haiti and more specifically about our nutrition and feeding practices at the Village.

I won’t lie, I felt like I was showing off a bit! Our staff at Holt Fontana run a very atypical care center by international standards. Started by Peter and Shay Fontana, founders of the Hope for Haiti Foundation, the Holt Fontana Village was designed to mimic family-like care. All of the children live in little cottages with no more than eight children per house.  Siblings live together and children in the cottages eat together family style.  There is no large dining hall for the children.  On average, each cottage has two housemothers to care for the children, and they stay with them all hours of the day. They wash their dishes, clean their clothes, put them down for naps, play with them and most of all provide a loving atmosphere.  It never ceases to amaze me! These children all know that they are loved… unconditionally.

Overall, I think that Zeina was impressed. Throughout the course of the week, she was able to interview our childcare and administrative staff as well as our clinical team, and she got to spend a day with the Village’s resident cooks. She even learned how to prepare a typical Haitian meal in the kitchen! I don’t know how she withstood the heat in there, but I’m glad she did because lunch was DELICIOUS!

Continue reading “Two Exciting Weeks for Holt in Haiti!”

A Challenging Road to Paradise

Brian Campbell joins Secret Keeper Girl speaker Suzy Weibel on a journey to Haiti this week.  While there, the group, which also includes Dove-award winning singer/songwriter Wayne Watson and Holt’s Director of Donor Engagement Kris Thompson, will visit children at Holt Fontana Village as well as families in Holt’s family preservation program.

By Brian Campbell, Creative Services Director

Arcahaie, Haiti— It’s hot and humid as we step off the plane. This is typical for Haiti. Though the heat isn’t overwhelming by recent east coast standards, you could steam rice in the humidity here. Outside the

The road from Port-au-Prince to Montrouis, lined with makeshift homes nearly 2 years after a devastating earthquake.

airport, the masses of people that seem about to crush, give way to polite “excusé” and gracious smiles. A familiar face joins the fray, that of Supreme, Holt’s programs manager in Haiti. Soon the city of Port-au-Prince begins to fade and the miles to Holt Fontana Village slip by, as our SUV negotiates rough and unfinished roads to Montrouis.

Supreme, Holt's programs manager in Haiti, with Rachael, a child in Holt's care.

As Supreme picks and chooses the narrow roads, a red steel gate, along a walled compound appears. With a few toots of the horn, the gate slides to one side – inside, a paradise. Flowering trees and neat paths lay ahead. The humidity makes an attempt to dampen, but it’s blown aside by the sea breeze and the sound of excited little voices teetering from the cottages of Holt Fontana Village. The curious faces begin to pour out, and serious and polite little handshakes are exchanged. Little fingers poke at the camera bits and unusual hair colorings. Smiles meet smiles. Soon laughter ensues, as tickle jumping games take the place of the  planned activities. Just kids being kids. The outside world, filled with difficulty and distress, is replaced with love, happiness and opportunity.


To sponsor a child in Haiti, click here