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With COVID Microgrants, Sponsors and Donors Keep Families Together

Around the world, the COVID crisis has significantly increased the risk of family separation. But because of Holt sponsors and donors, vulnerable families have what they need to stay together. View a slideshow of families in Cambodia who received COVID microgrants to start small businesses they can sustain throughout the pandemic.

Around the world, the COVID-19 crisis is far from over. Cases continue to spike in communities where sponsors and donors support children, and families continue to struggle with loss of employment, school closures and sick family members.

But everywhere, our in-country staff and partners remain dedicated to caring for children and families in our programs. They continue operating under difficult work conditions to meet families’ immediate needs. In many countries, they have also begun developing and implementing long-term solutions to help families remain stable and self-reliant.

In Thailand, our local partner, Holt Sahathai Foundation, taught families how to grow vegetable gardens to provide them with a sustainable source of food. In Cambodia, meanwhile, our team on the ground has helped parents who lost their jobs start businesses they can sustain for however long the pandemic continues. For these families, COVID microgrants provided by sponsors and donors make all the difference. 

Mou lives with her husband and four children in Battambang, a province in northern Cambodia on the border with Thailand. Like many families in this impoverished rural region of Cambodia, Mou and her husband migrated to Thailand several years ago in search of work. They knew they could earn more working in Thailand’s thriving tourism and construction industries than they could earn at home in Cambodia. As migration can be dangerous, they left their four children behind in the care of relatives when they crossed the border. But they missed their children and in late 2019, they returned home for a visit.

Then, in early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit Cambodia.

Under quarantine measures, Mou and her husband could not leave Cambodia and return to work in Thailand. They had had no income and could not provide enough food for their children. For many families in this kind of crisis situation, their only recourse is placing their children in an orphanage.

“The situation of [Mou’s] family is slowly getting better now. The kids have food to eat and continue their studies. Most importantly, they are able to stay together with their parents.”

Pola Ung, program manager for Holt Cambodia

In many countries — including Cambodia — the COVID crisis has significantly increased the risk of family separation due to poverty. But with the support of Holt sponsors and donors, our on-the-ground teams are actively working to keep families together — including families like Mou’s.

“Our social work team saw the risk of separation and then we started our intervention,” explains Pola Ung, program manager for Holt Cambodia in Battambang. “After conducting proper assessment, Holt decided to support the family with [a small business] so that the parents can start generating income and earning money for food and supplies for their children.”

Through the generous support of Holt sponsors and donors, Mou received a COVID microgrant to start a small business selling cakes and noodles in the local market. Once quarantine measures lifted, Mou’s husband also found work on a local construction site.

“The situation of the family is slowly getting better now,” Pola says. “The kids have food to eat and continue their studies. Most importantly, they are able to stay together with their parents.”

Because of the generosity of Holt sponsors and donors, families like Mou’s have a sustainable income to help them weather this ongoing crisis.

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