We celebrate families every day at Holt, and for International Day of Families, we put together the following photo essay to highlight some of the beautiful families in our programs around the world. From birth families to adoptive families to families overcoming poverty, we celebrate people around the world who come together and stay together as family — providing safe and loving homes for children everywhere.
A Good Example
Twin brothers Somsak and Somchai are thriving in the care of their parents. Although when they were first born, it was a difficult beginning.
Their mom, Sachee, was just 17 years old when she got pregnant. Her boyfriend, Paal, was 15 when he learned he was going to be a father. Neither of them had any income — they were just kids themselves. Then they learned they were expecting twins…
To help care for their sons, Holt sponsors and donors — through our local partner in Thailand — began providing food, clothing, diapers and other basics. With their immediate needs met, Somsak and Somchai began growing stronger and more healthy. Sachee and Paal felt less stress — allowing them to focus on more long-term goals for their family.
Over time, as Sachee and Paal became financially stable and increasingly confident in parenting their sons, they became role models for other teen parents.
“They are a good example,” their social worker says, “because they worked together to care for their children.”
The Difference a Family Makes
Amanda and Jared Abuhl had always wanted six children, but when their fifth child, Evangeline, was born with an extremely rare form of genetic epilepsy, they decided that having another child just wouldn’t be possible. But then they learned about Anna, a 1-year-old girl in Bulgaria with the exact same genetic condition as Evangeline…
“I don’t think we would have sought out this experience if it wasn’t for Evangeline,” Amanda says. With five children already, one of whom required complex care, their life was full. But as soon as they saw Anna, they knew that this was something they could do.
They traveled to Bulgaria to bring Anna home in August 2022. Now, with adequate nutrition, medical care and the love of a family, Anna is thriving. She is reaching developmental milestones Amanda and Jared hadn’t even dared to hope for. That’s the difference a family can make.
Stable and Strong
In a rural community in northwestern Cambodia, Kola and Bunthong stand proudly in front of their home, with their five beautiful children. Their life looks entirely different than when we first met them just four years ago.
They used to be afraid every night when they went to sleep. Twice, poisonous snakes had slithered into their old home — a thatched structure with holes in the floors and the walls.
But now, they are so proud of their beautiful new home, provided by Holt sponsors and donors. They sleep peacefully every night. Even more, their older children are all in school, and receiving the education — and a chance out of poverty — that their parents always dreamed of giving them.
The gift of new home, the gift of dignity, has transformed their lives. Now, not only is their home stable and strong — but their entire family is, too.
A Connection With My Birth Family Means the World to Me
“I was in the middle of the table. I had my adoptive family on one side, and my biological family on one side. Like, emotionally, it just felt like I was in two different corners essentially. And neither corner loved me any less.”
When Nate Schiffer traveled with his family to the Philippines for vacation at 17 years old, he didn’t expect the chance to meet his birth family. But here he was, in their single-roomed home — comprised of three walls and a blanket covering the opening — in an alleyway between two buildings in the city. They directed him to sit on a metal folding chair beside a small table. His biological siblings and biological parents sat feet away on the pallet bed they all shared, and his adoptive family stood near the doorway opening because there wasn’t enough room for everyone inside.
“I visually saw myself between both of them, and I knew that they both loved me. I just felt super loved, and super lucky,” Nate says. “Even though it was a sad situation, I was more just overwhelmed with happiness. I’m glad that I met my birth family. It helped me feel more completed and filled in the missing pieces of my story. Having a connection with my birth family means the world to me.”
In Pune, India, in a slum neighborhood, through a narrow doorway in a building and up several flights of stairs, you’ll find this family’s home. The father, Suraj, is so proud of their home — and of his children. He can’t stop smiling as he talks about them.
The children, 12-year-old Vasant, 10-year-old Chandra and 8-year-old Meera, are all going to school with support from their Holt sponsors. So many children in their neighborhood don’t get to go to school. So they know just how important it is. Every morning, Suraj leaves early for work and leaves out breakfast for the children. Vasant helps get Chandra ready for school, although Meera likes to wake up even earlier to get ready all by herself!
Their mom works too and wasn’t home to be in their family photo when we last visited, but she too is so proud of her children.
“Do you love your mommy?” their social worker asked Chandra. He smiled shyly and nodded his head.
Give Job Skills Training
Job skills training is one of the most effective tools you can give a parent struggling to support their children. Parents in Holt’s programs around the world have chosen courses in tailoring, construction, computer programming and more. Within months, they can make a reliable income to independently support their children, overcoming poverty for good!