Allie and Brent Bestwick are the parents of six children. But when Allie started sponsoring children through Holt, her family suddenly grew by leaps and bounds!
Davaajav is a friendly 10-year-old boy who lives with his family in a remote, mountainous area of northern Mongolia. Like many people in the region, Davaajav’s parents are herders, tending to sheep and goats in the countryside. When not in school, Davaajav loves playing outdoors with his brother and other children, swimming in the river near his home and riding horses. His dream, however, was to own a bicycle!
Knowing that I was a small part of something wonderful that made a child smile was truly priceless.
Davaajav’s parents rely on seasonal work and could not afford to buy him a bike. But that was not the end of Davaajav’s dream.
Allie Bestwick, a mother of six in Olathe, Kansas, has been sponsoring children through Holt since February 2021. Davaajav is one of the many children she sponsors. Allie’s monthly sponsorship covers basic needs for her sponsored children, including food, school supplies and clothing. But Allie understands that sponsorship doesn’t always cover a child and their family’s every need.
“The monthly [sponsorship] fee may help cover basic necessities like food, healthcare and school costs,” Allie says. “But when you learn more about the families, you see that many are still struggling.”
Allie likes to donate extra funds to her sponsored children and their family to address any unmet needs they are facing. “I’m not always aware of a particular need before I make a designated donation,” she says. But when Allie learned that her donation provided a bicycle for Davaajav — and that the little boy was able to use his bike last summer to help his family herd sheep — she was overjoyed. “Knowing that I was a small part of something wonderful that made a child smile was truly priceless,” Allie says.
Allie became a Holt sponsor in 2021 because she has a big heart. But her story runs a little deeper. Although Holt was not their placing agency, Allie and her husband Brent also have a deep personal connection to another significant aspect of Holt’s work — international adoption.
Back in 2008, Brent and Allie were the parents of four biological children — three sons and a daughter, ranging from 3 to 13 years of age. The Bestwicks had always wanted to grow their family through adoption, so that year, they traveled to China to adopt a 34-month-old daughter they named Quincie.
Allie and Brent were prepared to parent a child with some heart issues, as their 3-year-old daughter Mallory was born with a minor heart condition. But once Quincie was home, the Bestwicks would discover that Quincie had severe cognitive issues and profound deafness in addition to major heart disease. “We were blindsided by the magnitude of Quincie’s needs, and her first decade with us was extremely tough,” says Allie.
Still, in 2018 — a decade later — the Bestwicks returned to China to adopt a second child. “I was 48 at the time, and all my children were in their teens or 20s,” Allie says. “Brent and I had requested a 10-year-old, but we were matched with a 1-year-old girl with special needs — a major heart condition. We decided to move forward with the adoption because we’d already had so much experience in this area.”
Initially, changing diapers and caring for a baby after more than a decade was a bit of a shock, Allie admits. But after a few years of settling in with her new daughter Rose, Allie was ready to adopt another child. “I would pretty much go back and adopt forever — I just have a heart for it,” she says. “But my husband thought six children were enough!”
Brent suggested that Allie become a child sponsor, as this would be a way to share the family’s love and resources with many children. (Each year, the Bestwicks tithe — or donate — 10% of the family income to their church and charitable organizations.) Scouring the internet, Allie found Holt International one day and was impressed by its sponsorship and family strengthening efforts. “Many of the kids Holt sponsors are living in a family unit, often with a single parent or grandparents,” she says. “I love being able to help not just one child but an entire family [through my donations].”
I love being able to help not just one child but an entire family [through my donations].
Allie became a Holt sponsor in early 2021 and has since added 17 kids to her “family” of sponsored children! When choosing which children to sponsor, Allie often gravitates toward older kids (“I tend to have a heart for children 10 and older,” she says) and toward those from Asia, because of her connection with China. Sometimes she’s drawn to a child because they have no sponsor, or because their family has a particularly compelling story. Other times, she sponsors a child because their birth date has a particular significance. For example, one little girl she sponsors shares a birthday with her sister, and two girls share a birthday with Allie’s grandmothers.
Rising Global Costs Endanger Children
Basic living costs have skyrocketed due to inflation, devastating children and families who were already living in poverty.
As a Holt sponsor, Allie enjoys writing to her children four times a year and receiving semi-annual updates from Holt. In addition, she appreciates seeing how her sponsorship dollars and extra gifts help a family in need.
Holt allows sponsors to make a specific donation to their sponsored child (and their family) in the amount of $250 or more at any time. Holt staff in the child’s country help determine what the family needs, whether it’s extra food, firewood, home repairs, a bicycle or something else, and they ensure that the money is used for this purpose. As Allie describes it, “Receiving these funds is a bit like getting an unexpected gift or windfall.”
In the past year, Allie’s gifts have been used in the following ways:
- Hanh, 14, was able to purchase an electric bike that cost $378. Holt Vietnam contributed $22 to the cost of the bicycle, and Allie donated the remainder. Hanh lives in rural Vietnam and will use the bike to travel from her grandparents’ farm to school each day. Previously, Hanh was living alone in her family home, which is located closer to her school.
- Prisha is a vibrant, motivated 9th grade student living in India. Her family used the money from Allie’s gift to buy additional supplies Prisha needed for school that her sponsorship does not already cover.
- Li lives with her family in the Jilin province of China. Due to ongoing concerns over Covid-19, Li and other students in her area must stay home and take classes online. With the help of Allie’s donation, Li was able to purchase a new smartphone, which allows her to connect to the internet, take courses and upload assignments to her teachers. Li was also able to buy workbooks and other school supplies with the extra money.
- Duuren lives in a ger (a traditional Mongolian home) with her mother, grandmother and siblings. The family was able to purchase much-needed food, warm clothing and school supplies with the additional funds they received.
When describing what sponsorship has meant to her, Allie says: “I know how blessed I’ve been in my life — and I really, truly just want to give back. Sponsorship is so humbling and so rewarding, and I encourage everyone who can contribute to do so.”
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