When Holt staff member Celeste Snodgrass had the chance to meet her sponsored child, it affirmed her belief that sponsors are the key to keeping children out of orphanages — and with their families.
Celeste slipped off her sandals and swung her legs out of the SUV and into the squishy, dark mud. Looking at her surroundings, she couldn’t believe she was here. Lush palm groves lined the rutty, narrow dirt road that led her to a small collection of thatched houses raised on wooden stilts.
A photo essay about the impact Holt sponsors and donors have created in the lives of children and families living in one coastal community in Thailand.
Thick, sticky mud swallows your shoes as you approach the shoreline, where about five wooden boats dock in southern Thailand. After school, the kids of this community toss their shoes aside and let the mud squish in between their toes as they run to climb up onto their fathers’ boats. Fishing is the livelihood and lifestyle of the people here. It has been for generations. Continue reading “It Takes a Village: Holt Sponsors Change Kids’ Lives in Thailand”
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!
Through services provided by Holt Sahathai Foundation, Holt’s partner agency in Thailand, a fisherman is able to provide for his family.
Nadej casts his fishing net out into the murky, green water of the Pak Phanang River in the Nakhon si Thammarat district of southern Thailand. On this day, like many others before it, his catch will not yield the income needed to provide for his wife and four young daughters. The family’s home is in disrepair. They don’t have enough to eat, or enough funds to send their daughters to school.
Desperate, Nadej casts his net out once more, hoping for assistance. Praying for an answer.
And then, a helping hand…
The Pakphanang Municipality referred Nadej’s family to Holt Sahathai Foundation (HSF), Holt’s partner agency in Thailand. Through an initial assessment, an HSF social worker discovered the family’s critical state. Caring for the family’s youngest daughter as well as her ill parents, Nadej’s wife, Lawan, was unable to help with the family’s income. Eight individuals lived in a small, dilapidated house with no windows. The four daughters were never taught proper health and hygiene practices. The eldest daughter, 14-year-old Tang, suffered from tooth decay, severely dry skin and lice. Nadej and his wife encouraged the children’s education, but also needed help with household duties. The children rarely attended school. The family lacked in many areas, the HSF social worker observed. What they weren’t lacking in, noted the social worker, was love.
“The family members love and care for each other deeply,” read the HSF family report. “The children try to help the parents reduce their burden. The parents love and accept their daughter who has special needs, always encouraging her.”
At a learning center Holt supports in rural, southern Thailand, children build skills using the natural environment while parents learn how to grow low-cost, nutritious food for their families.
by Jessica Palmer, Director of Adoption Services, Southeast Asia
Stepping into an organic garden, seeing fresh vegetables ripe for the picking in a lush green atmosphere, I forget for a second that I’m not in the Holt headquarters city of Eugene, Oregon. Instead, I am in a rural part of Thailand, Tha Sala, just outside the city of Nakhon Si Thammarat that serves as the southern office location for Holt’s local partner organization, Holt Sahathai Foundation (HSF). Among the many programs HSF provides for vulnerable children and families in Thailand is a learning center in Tha Sala, which is full of sensory stimulation and learning opportunities for children in the area — including many in Holt’s sponsorship program.
Although sponsorship is not typically a pathway to adoption, Holt sponsors Daniela and Scott Stewart defied the norm — applying to adopt, and turning out to be the right family for a 13-year-old girl in Thailand who they had sponsored from the time she was 2 months old.
by Robin Munro, Managing Editor
Every year for the past twelve years, Daniela Stewart has sent a little gift to her sponsored child in Thailand. Usually on her birthday. Usually something small. One year — several years ago, when Holt staff traveled frequently to escort children and could deliver larger packages to sponsored children — Daniela decided to pick out a doll. As she stood in the aisle of the store, looking at rows of dolls in every shape and style, she asked herself, “If she were my daughter, which one would I pick?” In a moment of clarity, she reached for a very soft and cuddly doll with brown hair, beautiful eyes and a big smile.
For Daniela, envisioning her sponsored child as her daughter was not too difficult a task. Over the years, she and her family had watched her grow from the 2-month-old baby pictured in their first sponsorship report, to a darling girl with a beaming smile. “We always felt a special connection to her,” Daniela says. “Every update on her made for a joyous day.” She became, in a sense, a part of their family.
But little did Daniela know as she stood in the aisle of the store that, one day, the little girl she sponsored in Thailand would become her daughter for real.
Fourteen years ago, Daniela and Scott Stewart traveled to Thailand to adopt their first son, a 10-month-old boy they named Timothy. Not long after, they returned to adopt their son Benjamin. While waiting to join an adoptive family, both boys stayed in a loving foster family in Thailand. In fact, they stayed in the same family! While in Thailand, Daniela and Scott met their sons’ foster family, as well as their social workers. They visited Holt Sahathai Foundation (HSF), Holt’s partner organization in Thailand, and learned about our programs to strengthen families at risk of separation.
Holt International CEO and President Phil Littleton is currently touring Holt’s programs in Southeast Asia and Korea, visiting the children and families we serve. Today, Holt’s creative services director, Brian Campbell, reports on Phil’s visit with a struggling grandmother and her grandson. Through family strengthening services, Holt is helping to support this family in partnership with Holt Sahathai Foundation (HSF) in Thailand.
by Brian Campbell, Creative Services Director
In the parking lot of a high-rise apartment building stands a dilapidated utility building, long forgotten by the apartment residents. Abandoned signs, old promotional banners and tarps to keep out the rain cover this small one-room structure. A couple of broken office chairs and a few stumps of wood make up the living room. This small utility building is now home to Tien and her grandson, Satang.
Today, Holt Sahathai Foundation (HSF) director, Jintana, will introduce Phil Littleton, Holt president and CEO, to this struggling family and detail how Holt and HSF have come alongside them.
After Tien’s daughter gave birth to Satang, she refused to raise him. Tien then stepped up to raise and care for her grandson. The family’s difficult situation came to the attention of HSF through a cooperative effort with local social workers and hospital authorities. Since Satang’s birth, HSF has made repeated efforts to contact Satang’s mother, but she has been unresponsive, only appearing from time to time to ask her mother for money. It is HSF’s hope that one day, through counseling and support, Satang will be united with his mother.
In the meantime, HSF has stepped in to help this grandmother and her grandchild stay together, providing Tien with powdered formula, food and social services to ensure good health and nutrition for both of them.
In 1976, HSF began providing support services to struggling families, enabling them to care for their children. Over the years, services expanded and today include counseling, financial assistance, vocational training, educational sponsorship and income-generating projects. Training in proper health and nutrition also reinforces a family’s ability to care for their children.
“With support, Tien and Satang are going to make it,” explains Jintana to Phil. “Having Satang in Holt’s child sponsorship program will help a great deal. It’s going to take some hard work on the grandmother’s part, but she is dedicated to keeping her remaining family together. They will make it.”
Holt CEO and President Phil Littleton is currently in Thailand visiting the children and families Holt serves alongside our long-time partner in the region, Holt Sahathai Foundation (HSF). Here, Holt’s creative services director, Brian Campbell, reports on Phil’s visit with a little girl he helps to support through Holt’s child sponsorship program.
by Brian Campbell, Creative Services Director
Nakhon, Thailand— After a busy couple days visiting HSF programs and services for children and families in the community of Nakhon, a special moment awaits Phil Littleton, CEO of Holt International.
For the past two years, Phil and his family have helped to support a little girl named Mali*, who lives here in Nakhon with her mother Lawan*, her twin sister Kanya* and several extended family members. Mali and Kanya’s mother is 24-years-old and works as a server at a small restaurant, earning about $7 per day. On such low income, she can hardly afford to meet all of her daughters’ needs – especially their educational expenses. With assistance from Phil’s monthly sponsorship donations, HSF is able to give Mali the supplies she needs to attend school – including a school uniform.
Last November, when another Holt staff member visited Lawan and her daughters at their home in Nakhon, Lawan asked to send a special message to Phil. “Thank you,” she said. “Without your support, it would be very hard for my children and me. Expenses are very high, and I could not afford to provide for two children and their education. My main concern is the education of my children.” Mali and her sister started preschool in August 2011, and are now in Kindergarten.
At home in Eugene, Phil’s family keeps a picture of Mali in a little magnetic frame on their refrigerator. As new child reports arrive from Holt’s child sponsorship program, Phil and his wife share the updates about Mali with their three children and pass pictures of her around the dinner table. From a distance, little Mali has become a part of their family.
Today, for the first time, Phil will have the opportunity to meet Mali and her family.
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.
Holt established a partnership with HSF in 1975. HSF serves a large number of vulnerable children through a variety of programs including adoption, pregnancy counseling, foster care, educational sponsorships and outreach services for children in hospitals and orphanages. Many of these programs help birth families stay together through counseling and assistance.
Bangkok, Thailand — I am still adjusting to my new life in Bangkok. For the last month and a half Pi Tuk, Pi Malee and I have coordinated with Child Adoption Center (another adoption agency in Thailand) and assessed approximately 30 children with special needs, all of whom live in governmental orphanages and have been diagnosed with various disabilities. Some of the common disabilities we see in the children are: cerebral palsy (CP), fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), microcephaly and macrocephaly, seizure disorders, visual and hearing impairment, delayed development, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and a variety of physical disabilities. Of the four orphanages we visited in the past month, two — Nong Khai Home for Boys and Udornthani Home for Girls — are located in the northeastern part of Thailand and the other two — Ban Fueng Fah Home for Children with Special Needs and Pakkret Babies Home — are located in a nearby province outside of Bangkok. The HSF social workers and I flew by airplane to the two northeastern orphanages and spent four days assessing the overall development of 14 children.