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girls in yellow dresses in Uganda

Recent program updates from Holt-supported family strengthening and orphan care programs around the world!

Children celebrate World Library Day in India with a week of activities organized by Holt partner BSSK.

India

In celebration of World Library Day, one of Holt’s partner organizations in India, Bharatiya Samaj Seva Kendra (BSSK), organized a week-long series of activities in its centers located in the cities of Pune, Chiplun and Sangli. Various engaging events were held, including interactive sessions with renowned writers, editors and poets, aimed at igniting and nurturing a passion for reading among children.

In India, the literacy rate for women (69%) is overall 14 percentage points less than for men (83%). But in recent years, as efforts have been made to reduce gender disparities, girls are catching up to boys. In 2022, the literacy rate for girls ages 15–24 was 95.54%.

In the communities where Holt works alongside our local partners, sponsors and donors have helped create this generational change in education and opportunity among girls and women.

In many slum communities and rural areas of India, traditional gender roles continue to shape women’s lives. But through our two long-time partners in India, BSSK and VCT, sponsors and donors are helping to ensure children complete their education.  Some children in Holt-supported programs are boys. Most are girls who would otherwise drop out of school early to help earn income for their family, take care of younger siblings or learn household duties before marrying at age 15 or 16.

a single mother with her two sons
A mom and her two boys in a Holt-supported family strengthening program in Colombia.

Colombia

In Colombia, Holt partner Bambi recently held two workshops for parents and caregivers of children in Holt-supported programs. One of the trainings was in Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI®) — a popular parenting approach that emphasizes connection over correction, and uses an evidence-based model that helps children heal from past traumas.

During the training, parents and caregivers learned how their different attachment styles impact the development of children in their care. Caregivers learned the cycle of secure attachment, emotional management, biology and brain development, self-efficacy and confidence, which could have a long-term impact on the quality of their and their children’s physical and psychological health and interpersonal relationships.

In Colombia, many families struggle to escape a generational cycle of neglect and abuse and many have been separated by crisis and conflict. But at Holt, we believe that families can change with counseling, training and support and that every child should have the opportunity to grow up in the love and care of their parents. Alongside our local partners in Colombia, Holt sponsors and donors help support efforts — including workshops like these — to strengthen and reunite children with their families and ensure they can grow up in a safe, stable, loving home environment.

Foster parents in the Philippines hold a baby in at a Jollibee Christmas party
Holt-supported foster parents in Philippines hold a baby in their care.

The Philippines

Holt’s long-standing partner in the Philippines, Kaisahang Buhay Foundation (KBF), recently celebrated a heartwarming achievement as one of the children in Holt-supported foster care was reunified with his birth family.

Far too often, around the world, poverty separates children from their families. But at Holt, we believe that children should have every opportunity to grow up in the love and care of their family. Everywhere we work, we strive to reunite children living in orphanages with their birth families before we consider in-country or international adoption for them.

In the Philippines, our local partner works to reunite children living in foster homes or childcare centers. Before children return home, social workers ensure their families are stable and equipped to care for them and can provide a safe home environment. In recent years, our staff in the Philippines have helped an average of 20 children rejoin their families every year.

With the support of Holt sponsors and donors, children from a vulnerable community in northern China are able to participate in enriching activities.

China

Holt China recently implemented non-formal education activities for children at a sponsor and donor-supported children’s activity center in northern China. Open after school and on weekends, these centers are a place for children in the community to study, socialize and spend their time when not in school. Children have access to books, child-friendly desks and chairs, toys and sports equipment, and can play and engage with the materials freely. Holt sponsors and donors also support activities for children such as tutoring and story time. And during holidays, such as the Mid-Autumn Festival and New Year’s Day, these centers are also a place for children to gather, cook traditional dumplings, make lanterns, and play under the guidance of local social workers.

Education in China is free and compulsory until the ninth grade, but families still face a lot of costs to educate their children. These include books, uniforms, supplies and “supplementary” classroom costs. Many families also live in rural or mountainous areas without access to a nearby school. For these families, their only option is to pay room and board for their child to attend a boarding school far from home. Collectively, these fees can overwhelm families living in poverty and cause children to drop out of school early. But across China, Holt sponsors and donors help cover school fees for children living in poverty with their families. 

Within each province where Holt works in China, our local staff also partners with teachers, schools and local ministry of education officials to ensure children receive additional support and advocacy in and out of the classroom. Through home visits and regular meetings, advocates inform families about the importance of education, find ways for children to remain in school longer, help with exam prep, provide links to tutoring resources and more. With the support of sponsors and donors, advocates also work to ensure safe living conditions, medical care and good nutrition for children in educational sponsorship.

girls in yellow dresses in Uganda
Children play on the playground at a Holt-supported preschool in rural Uganda.

Uganda

With the end of the school term approaching, Holt’s partner schools in Uganda celebrated National Play Day, which encourages parents and caregivers to play with their children. With support from Holt Uganda, schools set up games and activities for children and their parents to engage in together while school administrators shared about the benefits of playful engagement for developing positive parent-child relationships and to support learning through play.

In the rural villages where Holt sponsors and donors support children in Uganda, more than 30 percent of 6- to 9-year-olds have never or are not able to attend primary school. The reasons vary but are primarily due to a few main factors. First, education is very expensive in Uganda. The cost of school fees, books, supplies and uniforms is too much for families living in poverty. In rural areas, school may also be too far to walk for some children and few families can afford the fees for them to attend a boarding school.

But every year, Holt sponsors and donors make it possible for hundreds of children living in rural villages in Uganda to attend preschool, primary school and even secondary school.

Family of four stands together outside in front of a mossy rock
A Holt family with two boys adopted through the Thailand program.

Thailand

Thailand is currently experiencing a shortage of COVID-19 vaccines for children under age 5, causing a delay in the adoption process for children who are waiting to join families in the U.S. But thanks to efforts coordinated with doctors in many hospitals, our local partner, Holt Sahathai Foundation (HSF), has finally secured these much-needed vaccines for the children.

Since 1975, Holt has helped to unite more than 1,000 children from Thailand with permanent, loving families in the U.S. Learn more about Holt’s adoption program and the children waiting for families in Thailand.

boy standing in front of his family

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