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”

From Ashes to Beauty

Given the strength to overcome her own struggles, child sponsor Karis Feezell strives to help others overcome theirs. 

Hello, my name is Karis Feezell. I am a determined, strong and compassionate 19-year-old artist who has struggled with physical issues all my life. I have cerebral palsy, Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, and birth defects in my hands and feet. When I was born, the umbilical cord was wrapped around my neck, resulting in lack of oxygen for eight minutes until I was revived. During this incident, my cerebellum was injured, causing constant, shaky tremors. The tremors make it a struggle to control my hands, particularly opening them.

That I have these issues, and can still draw and paint, is proof to me that God is still working miracles today. Continue reading “From Ashes to Beauty”

16-Year-Old Adoptee Launches GoFundMe For His Sponsored Child

After his sponsored child, Munkh, is seriously burned in an accident, 16-year-old adoptee Zack Myers launches a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for Munkh’s hospital costs. He’s not sure he’ll meet his goal. But as more people read Munkh’s story, his Go Fund Me goes farther than he expects!

Zack with his sponsored child, Munkh (center), and Munkh’s brother in the Seattle Seahawks cap that Zack gave them when they met during the Mongolia Heritage Tour.

The relationship began at the Red Stone Informal School during Holt International’s heritage tour to Mongolia last summer. The school is located in the poorest district of Ulaanbaatar, and provides education, meals, hot showers and other supports for about 40 children, ages 6-12, each year. For these kids, the school is a welcome refuge from the many challenges of growing up in deep poverty. Continue reading “16-Year-Old Adoptee Launches GoFundMe For His Sponsored Child”

Life Inside the Caves of Northern China

Through Holt’s child sponsorship program, dedicated sponsors create pathways for orphaned and vulnerable children to escape poverty and chase their dreams — an especially rare opportunity for children living in caves in northern China.

Pei is able to attend school because of Holt's child sponsorship program.
If 15-year-old Pei ever hopes to escape the poverty and stigma associated with living in a cave, she will need to stay in school as long as possible.

Only the poorest families still live in caves.

Some families use the dusty, mountainside rooms as animal pens to protect their sheep or goats from the freezing winter cold. Others store grain or farm equipment in their cave, and live nearby in a more modern brick or concrete home.

Until she was 4 years old, Huan Yu Pei had never lived in a cave. She didn’t face the stigma cave families feel as the bottom of society. She never felt the draft from the makeshift door.

In the cave-dwelling community where she grew up in China’s Shaanxi province, Pei’s family was considered middle class.

Her father worked in a factory and her mother cared for the house. Pei’s grandfather spent his days harvesting their large plot of land, where they grow sweet apples. Their life was comfortable.

Then, in 2006, Pei’s father was in a motorcycle accident on his way to the printer manufacturing company where he worked as a machine operator. His leg was badly mangled and broken. In this rural, underdeveloped region of northwest China, there were few hospitals and none that Pei’s father could afford without health insurance. The injury never fully healed, and Pei’s father needed crutches to move. He lost his job, and the family fell into poverty and debt.

A view of several cave homes in Ruicheng, an agricultural region about 450 miles from Beijing, China.
A view of several cave homes in Ruicheng, an agricultural region about 450 miles from Beijing, China.

Soon after they moved into the cave where they still live today, Pei’s mother vanished. Continue reading “Life Inside the Caves of Northern China”

A Foundation in Education

3-Trapaing Kakas2[2]When you think about what it takes to keep a family on the verge of separation together, what comes to mind?

Did you think of money? How about food and housing?

What about daycare?

Not unlike in America, daycare and preschool can be rather expensive luxuries for many families in developing countries. Especially in impoverished communities, finding safe, reliable childcare can be extremely difficult.

Even if daycare services are available, many struggling families— especially those living on one income or helping to care for other extended family — simply can’t afford it.

And that leaves parents with a tough choice. Continue reading “A Foundation in Education”