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Smiling 25-year-old graduate of the ILEA program for aged-out orphans in the Philippines

Thoa Bui, Holt’s vice president of programs & services, shares how Holt sponsors support children aging out of orphanage care — including the story of 25-year-old Rosaline, who received a bachelor’s degree while part of the Independent Living & Educational Assistance (ILEA) program in the Philippines.

Through your monthly sponsorship, you not only support your sponsored child — you also support sustainable change for children and families through Holt programs around the world. This month, I would like to share how you support and empower older children aging out of institutions in the Philippines.

The Philippines is home to an estimated 2 million orphans. The government works alongside child welfare organizations — including Holt and Holt’s in-country partner, Kaisahang Buhay Foundation (KBF) — to reunite many of these children with their birth families, or find families for them through domestic or international adoption. Yet, many children are not adopted and instead grow up in — and age out of — orphanage care. Research has indicated that aged-out orphans face high risks of homelessness, joblessness, substance abuse, trafficking and crime due to lack of support networks.

Now I can testify to the fact that a difficult past is not an impediment to achieving our goal of a brighter future. As I always say, it is never too late to make changes in our lives and learn to appreciate those we know who care about and love us. Thank you very much!”

Roseline, who received a bachelor’s degree while part of the ILEA program

To help children aging out of orphanage care in the Philippines, KBF developed a program called Independent Living & Educational Assistance (ILEA). This program provides education and life skills to help prepare youth to live independently. Groups of boys and girls live separately in a group home. With support from Holt sponsors and donors, they receive tuition and supplies so they can attend either a secondary or vocational school, or college. They learn life skills such as cooking, grocery shopping and financial management. They receive counseling to prepare for independent life, and ILEA program staff network with employers to provide internships and job placement opportunities. The outcome has been outstanding as more than 90% of youth in the program find jobs and are living successfully on their own six months after graduation.

Roseline, graduate of the ILEA program for children aging out of orphanage care in the Philippines, in cap and gown
Roseline in cap and gown at her college graduation. She received a BA in information technology and now has a job in her field.

Roseline’s life story is a testament to the ILEA program — and to her own determination to overcome obstacles and achieve her dream.  Now 25, Roseline was only 2 years old when her mother left for Korea in search of work, leaving her in the care of the landlady of the boarding house where they used to stay. Roseline attended school and received honors for her academic performance despite being separated from her family. Her birth mother continued to support her financially for a while until she could no longer sustain the support. And although Roseline had a living grandmother, she was too old to care for her. 

When Roseline reached adolescence, she started to engage in smoking, drinking and illegal drugs. She also failed to complete school due to frequent absences. Her grandmother referred her to the Department of Social Welfare and Development and Roseline was placed in institutional care at age 12. While in care, the staff saw her determination to have a better future — and recommended her for the ILEA program. At ILEA, Roseline pursued a bachelor’s degree in information technology. Sometimes, studying became hard and she thought about quitting. But the ILEA staff helped her through challenging times. She graduated in June 2022, found a job in her field and a place to live, and can purchase her basic needs and wants. 

“I’m grateful that God used KBF as a means for me to realize my lifelong dream of becoming a professional,” Roseline shares. “And now I can testify to the fact that a difficult past is not an impediment to achieving our goal of a brighter future. As I always say, it is never too late to make changes in our lives and learn to appreciate those we know who care about and love us. Thank you very much!”

As a sponsor, you also help to support programs for aged-out youth in China, Colombia, Mongolia and Korea. Thank you for your heartfelt support of your sponsored child, and for supporting programs for orphaned and vulnerable children around the world!

Single mother with daughters, Thailand

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