In Booming Bangalore, Children with Special Needs are Left Especially Vulnerable

In the progressive tech capital of India, jobs and work are plentiful — and while this is good news overall, some of the adverse side effects from rapid urbanization and an increasing migrant population make caring for orphaned and abandoned children with special needs particularly challenging. During a visit to partner program Swanthana in April, Holt Creative Lead Billie Loewen met the children and caregivers most affected by these challenges.

16-year-old Alyssa lives in a care center for children with special needs in Bangalore, India. Alyssa says she would like to be a teacher some day.
Sixteen-year-old Alyssa lives in a care center for children with special needs in Bangalore, India. Alyssa says she would like to be a teacher some day.

A pair of deep, brown eyes peer curiously around the corner of a dark hallway. Pushing herself through a doorway, a small girl with short hair and a long purple dress appears in an old, metal wheelchair. She keeps her head low, her eyes shielded behind a red headscarf. Her short hair is held back with a barrette and a bindi decorates her forehead.

Alyssa is 16 years old, and she is paralyzed from the waist down. Abandoned by her family years ago, likely due to her disability, Alyssa has lived in a home for children with profound special needs for three years. She is one of the few residents at her care center who is able to express her thoughts verbally. Her voice is quiet, but in English she will tell you about her dreams.

Alyssa wants to be a teacher, someday, and teach little children how to dream big. She wants to live independently.

Sadly, at the moment, Alyssa’s dream is just that — a dream. She doesn’t receive any life skills training because her caregivers are too busy for that kind of one-on-one attention. She never travels beyond the very limited borders of her care center. She is stuck in a world that has forgotten her, and it isn’t her fault. Continue reading “In Booming Bangalore, Children with Special Needs are Left Especially Vulnerable”

An Update on Molly Holt

018_15A_1 As many of you know, our beloved Molly Holt, daughter to Holt founders Harry and Bertha, suffered a series of health setbacks two years ago, including cancer and ongoing complications from shingles.

Through wonderful medical care, and the prayers and support of family and Holt friends like you, Molly was able to recover, and today, Paul Kim, Holt’s director of Korea programs, says she is doing very well. “She is completely done with chemotherapy, and is managing her shingles,” Paul says. Molly will even travel from South Korea to Oregon this summer for a family reunion.

Molly’s mother, Bertha, had a special place in her heart for children with special needs, and today, Molly continues to carry out her mother’s vision — devotedly caring for children and adults with special needs at the Ilsan Center in Korea. Molly’s love for the world’s most vulnerable children can be felt in every country where Holt works.

We hope that you will continue to offer your prayers for Molly’s health and continued well being, and offer your support for the children with special needs around the world who have been touched by Molly’s legacy.

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She Could Have Been Just a Number…

ViviShe could have been just a number. Just another kid in an orphanage. Just another kid with special needs.

When Holt matched Vivienne with her family three years ago, she was about to receive surgery for her cleft lip and palate — a common condition among children living in orphanage care in China. At the time, she was in care at Peace House, Holt’s medical foster home in Beijing.

“It was hard being so far away, wondering if all was well,” her mom, Catherine, reflects.

Fortunately, Holt’s staff in China regularly sent updates about Vivienne’s progress —including medical records, photos and video. “We knew she was safe and well cared for,” says Catherine. Continue reading “She Could Have Been Just a Number…”

The Same Opportunities for Every Child

What is the difference between a child with special needs and a child without them?

Hint: it’s not the special need.

It’s the access “normal” children have to certain opportunities.

For example, the difference between a child who is deaf and one who is not, isn’t the ability to hear. The difference is how easily both of those children can learn a lesson in school. Or make friends. Or communicate with their family.

If, for instance, a teacher can give a lesson both audibly and in sign language, then both children can easily and equally learn the same lesson. In that instance, there are no differences between them.

Check out this video to learn how people like you helped our dear friend Jordan Love have access to all the opportunities he needed to live a full, independent life — and dedicate his time to advocating for children with special needs.

With the love and support of the staff at the Ilsan Center for children with special needs — as well as his sponsors and later his family — Jordan had every opportunity to achieve his dreams. But for many children with special needs, the playing field is anything but level.

Where Holt works in Shinshicho, Ethiopia, the rate of deafness is abnormally high, and no one is sure why. Disabilities are heavily stigmatized, and children with special needs are often hidden away. Very few people speak sign language, and when Holt began working in the region in 2010, there were no schools for deaf children.

Here, the difference between a child born deaf and a child who can hear is access to medical care, the opportunity to communicate, and the hope of a bright future and quality education.

Those are major differences.

But, they are all things that can be fixed … with resources.

So, with the help of people like you and your donations to the Molly Holt Fund for Children With Special Needs, we built the first school for the deaf in Shinshicho and over 400 deaf children attend classes each year.

Now, deaf children can access the same quality education as children who can hear. The school also helped educate the community about deafness, and the children in attendance are able to make friends and feel embraced by their community more easily. Nearby, a hospital project (also started by people like you) will soon research why deafness may be higher in this particular region. Perhaps someday, we can find a cause and a cure.

This is a simplified example of how people like you and I can serve children with special needs in a meaningful way. Children with special needs don’t need special treatment. They just need the same opportunities as every other child.

With a gift to the Molly Holt Fund, you provide those opportunities.

Today, help a child with special needs receive the resources he or she needs by giving a gift to the Molly Holt Fund! And learn more about who this special fund helps, and what your gift will accomplish.

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Introducing Holt TV!

Introducing Holt TV, a new video series designed to share inspiring stories and updates about our work serving children and families. Check out our first episode, in which we catch up with Molly Holt in Ilsan, South Korea!

 

No Legs, No Limits

Kanya Sesser, a 21-year-old Holt adoptee from Thailand, skateboards, skis, races, models and surfs. She’s also a college student studying fashion marketing, and she hopes to join the Billabong surf team soon. Born without legs, Kanya has become an inspiration to friends and fans around the world with her motto “No legs, no limits.” 
Continue reading “No Legs, No Limits”

Honoring Dr. Joseph Ha

For more than a decade, Dr. Joseph Ha was an important part of Holt — a friend and ambassador, a supporter and advocate. When he died in 2010, after only a year of service on Holt’s board, he left behind a remarkable gift — one that continues his mission to bring education and opportunity to those less fortunate, and defines his personal legacy.

Dr. Joseph Ha with his three granddaughters, who he doted upon and loved dearly. In the last few weeks of his life in the hospital, Dr. Ha asked his eldest granddaughter, 12-year-old Lainey, what she most wanted, and she replied that she wanted a dog. Dr. Ha wasn’t necessarily a dog person, and his daughter Karen even recalls times when Dr. Ha would feel confused how people could lavish dogs in gifts as if they were people.
Yet, every morning, Lainey’s dog Pepper runs into the kitchen dressed in clothes and with braided ear hair. She’s become the inside joke in the house, and also a beloved member of the family.

THE FIRST FEW TIMES Dr. Joseph Ha spent Christmas at Holt’s Ilsan Center — a long-term care facility in Korea — his wife and daughter had no idea what he was doing.

Perhaps they thought he was away on business, which was common in his role as Nike’s vice president of international business and government relations. As a Korean man himself, with an extraordinary talent to make and connect friends, Dr. Ha spent a lot of time overseas, particularly in Japan, China, Korea and Southeast Asia.

However, Dr. Ha wasn’t in Korea for business — he was there for a party, one that he threw every year for more than 10 years.

Ilsan is a very special home, and one of Holt’s most historically significant programs, since it was the first care facility in Korea to offer a loving, permanent environment to orphaned and abandoned children with special medical needs. Dr. Ha‘s passion for Ilsan and Holt International’s work in the region prompted him to come every Christmas bearing gifts — Nike coats and shoes, toys and treats — and anything to make the residents feel special. Susan Cox, Holt’s vice president of policy & advocacy, says that Dr. Ha came to know many of the children, as well as Harry and Bertha Holt’s daughter Molly — who devoted her life to caring for the residents at Ilsan.

“Most years, he would be there to celebrate with the kids, wearing a Santa suit and laughing and having as much fun as the children,” Susan says.

Dr. Ha’s daughter, Karen Chi, says the orphans inspired her father.  This is perhaps rooted in the fact that Dr. Ha was himself an orphan.

Continue reading “Honoring Dr. Joseph Ha”

Honor Molly Holt with a gift to children with special needs!

They were the children no one else wanted, but that only meant Molly loved them more. When they were abandoned, left to wander the streets alone … she welcomed them into her own modest home. Some couldn’t speak or hear or see. Others were missing limbs.

For nearly 57 years, Molly Holt has lovingly cared for homeless children in Korea, primarily at the Ilsan Center for children and adults with special medical and physical needs. The second eldest daughter of Harry and Bertha Holt, Molly first came to Korea in October 1956. Then 20 years old and fresh out of nursing school, she came to help her parents care for children left orphaned and abandoned in the wake of the Korean War.

Here, Molly found her life’s purpose. In 1961, when Harry founded the Ilsan Center, Molly worked alongside her father to care for children with mental and physical disabilities. And when Harry passed in 1964, Molly remained in Korea — caring for children at Ilsan. Over the past 57 years, she has not only carried on the legacy of her parents — she has helped to realize their vision of a nurturing, long and short-term care home for children with special needs.

Continue reading “Honor Molly Holt with a gift to children with special needs!”