On this blog, we share stories and updates about our work around the world. With reporting from Holt staff in the U.S. and overseas as well as contributions from adoptive parents, adoptees, sponsors and supporters, we strive to represent the heart, life and experiences of our extended “Holt Family.”
Today is the Chinese Lunar New Year and all of my family members are gathering together for a family reunion. On this most important holiday in China, I can’t help but think about you and the children who benefit from your sponsorship.
Because of you, in 2014, a total of 304 children from Longchuan, Yunnan province were able to stay in school — their daily nutrition guaranteed. Because of you, none of these children had to worry about the cost of school supplies, health insurance, immunizations or school uniforms. Because of your sponsorship, they didn’t have to face the risk of leaving school due to the extra cost. As part of Holt’s family strengthening program, the elementary students who attend boarding school in Yunnan were also able to go home for a family reunion on Chinese holidays and school breaks. Without your sponsorship, they could not afford the round-trip fare home. I still remember a time when I visited the school and saw one girl crying very hard because all her classmates were able to go home for the holiday to visit their parents, but she wasn’t sure if her grandmother would show up to take her home.
This Chinese New Year, she could visit her family with the help of her sponsors!This year, some children in Longchuan No. 2 Elementary School were also able to take music classes and learn to play the Hulusi flute. Their public performance not only enriched their spare time, but also strengthened their confidence. With your continued help, three more students graduated from the university last summer. All three students, their guardians and teachers are very grateful for your support as otherwise, they wouldn’t have made it all the way through.
Zhang Guo Yu is one of these three graduates. Her mother died of disease and her father was addicted to drugs and left home when she was young. She had to live with her grandparents thereafter. When Holt started the Longchuan project in 2007, she was one of 155 students enrolled in our new sponsorship program. She treasured the opportunity and studies hard in school. In 2011, she passed the exam and was admitted into Yunnan Wenshan Institute to major in biochemistry. After three years’ study, she successfully graduated last year. Right after graduation, she passed the civil service exam and now works for the land and resource bureau of Nanlao town, Maguan County, Wenshan prefecture. So far, she is the first public servant among all the sponsored students in Holt’s Longchuan project. She is very thankful to her sponsor’s destiny-changing support over the past seven years. Her relatives are all proud of her as well as thankful to her sponsor.
In 2015, we hope to enroll more children in sponsorship. Two other high school students will graduate this summer and if they pass the university entrance exam, we hope to continue sponsoring them. Meanwhile, both the Hulusi flute class and the mentor family project will continue so that the students can enjoy their spare time in school as well as family time on holidays and school break.
Zhang Guo Yu is just one of the students in China who has benefited from your continued help. I myself have seen so many other students whose lives have been touched and changed by you. Thank you so very much, dear sponsors, for your kind heart and generous help through all these years. Whether you sponsor a child in our foster care program, help a child to receive an education, or ensure a child in our group home receives the love and support of devoted caregivers, you are truly changing a child’s life.
On behalf of myself, my colleagues who work together with me here in China, and all of the sponsored children, I would like to wish you and your loved ones a prosperous and happy new year.
Site Manager, Fujian Province
As I’m sure you’ve seen on the news, Nepal was hit by a massive earthquake in April, causing buildings to collapse and killing thousands of innocent men, women and children.
We are always heartbroken when already vulnerable families are forced to endure the life-changing devastation from natural disasters, and even more heartbroken when they are forced to wait in the rubble for aid to arrive.
We were similarly distraught when Haiti was hit by a catastrophic earthquake five years ago. And again when typhoons destroyed homes and childcare centers in the Philippines in 2013. And when food shortages and drought kill thousands in Ethiopia.
Sadly, we can’t anticipate every natural disaster, but we can create solutions that help us act fast in the face of the unpredictable.
When you give a gift to our emergency relief fund through Gifts of Hope, you help deliver critical aid — like food, water, medicine and temporary shelter — to families, care centers and programs for children following a natural disaster.
By having a pool of funds ready, we are able to act faster and more efficiently, saving lives and keeping families together.
Just like in Haiti and the Philippines, Holt will always remain in the wake of devastation to help rebuild. But with your help, we can be prepared to act immediately — because no child should have to wait for food and water to arrive.
We thank you for your love and compassion. Consider giving a gift today.
Susan Voss-Rothmeier, a former Holt social worker and adoptive parent, recently returned from the Philippines with three other Holt advocates. While on this special Philippines Ambassador trip, the group bonded with 14 older children who are in need of families. Today, Susan and the rest of the group are back in the United States, and ready to find these children loving homes!
Below, Susan shares a blog post from her first day in the Philippines:
Manila —The Philippines Ambassador program is well underway. We arrived Saturday night after a long flight and settled into Manila amid the heat and periodic rain. Then, on Monday, we met six children, ages 10 to 14, at the KBF office, Holt’s partner organization. Initially reticent and shy as we engaged them in a painting project, the children eventually began to open themselves up to us over the course of the afternoon. Their personalities fully emerged, however, after we all traveled to a resort outside Manila to spend two days and loads of free time in a range of activities — swimming, biking, craft-making, and games. Their shy faces gradually turned to smiles and then laughter. The pool proved to be a huge success, as even the most hesitant ones let their guards down amid the horseplay and games of tag and catch.
Some of the children are sweet in nature, while others are jokesters, ready to ham it up. Whatever their personalities, they’ve all managed to weave their way into our hearts. They are so ready to be loved and they soak up any attention we offer. Their coy smiles, and the way they grab our hands amid our jokes and teasing, demonstrates their hunger for connection. Although they speak little English, and most of us know almost no Tagalog, it’s amazing how much we can still communicate. They are eager to know about us and want us to know who they are. They are so deserving of families of their own and our commitment to finding them homes grows stronger with each moment we spend with them.
It’s an intense, but enriching week for us, but we feel energized with the task at hand. We appreciate the opportunity God has given us to know these children.
Susan Voss-Rothmeier | Portland, Oregon
Anh* loves the color pink. She looks for it everywhere. In pictures. On toys. In the basket of colorful bouncy balls the children play with at her care center in northern Vietnam. So when her caregiver asks her to select a pair of shoes from the cupboard, her eyes naturally fall on the hot pink heels peeking out of the pile. Anh slips her feet into the pink sandals and practices walking along the balcony and up and down the stairs — her heels click-clacking on the hard ceramic tile.
For Anh, walking in heels is more than playing dress-up. For Anh, learning to put on shoes, walk down stairs, take off shoes and put them back in the cupboard is part of the occupational therapy she receives every Monday-Friday. With each step, she is learning a new skill.
A 6-year-old girl with short silky black hair and milky skin, Anh is the only child with special needs at her care center. Found abandoned at about 3 years old in the streets of Hanoi, she was diagnosed with autism shortly after coming into care. Anh cannot speak, but she engages the world in other ways. She does not hesitate to jump in your arms or sit in your lap, and easily takes the hand of her therapist or responds in kind to a “high five” — raising her arms and gently mirroring the gesture. Read More
We are 100 percent committed to family. Our entire mission is built around keeping vulnerable families together or finding families for children who have been orphaned or abandoned.
But there is one Gift of Hope item that is all about delaying families, and that’s our girl’s education fund.
Stick with us here.
Every year, thousands of girls are forced into arranged marriages — starting their own families while they are still just children themselves.
Worldwide, 18 percent of girls are married before their 15th birthday. In India alone, more than half of girls are married before they turn 18.
Child marriage robs girls of their childhoods. They are stripped of their dreams and their futures. They are pulled from school and forced to work or raise a family of their own.
That’s one of the reasons why we started a scholarship fund specifically for girls.
In so many of our programs around the world, we strive to keep girls in school as long as possible, helping to change social norms and empower women.
While preventing child marriage is not our core mission, it is one outcome of our efforts to ensure that every child can reach his or her full potential in life — that every child can receive an education, and grow and thrive in a loving family.
When girls are educated, they are more likely to grow into independent and economically self-reliant women. They are more likely to have high-paying jobs and escape the clutches of poverty.
Most importantly, they are able to decide when and if to start a family.
This Mother’s Day, honor the women you love by empowering a girl in our programs to dream big and stay in school.
For $100, you cover a year of school tuition for a girl facing a hardship or living in a vulnerable family. When you give a Gift of Hope, you become a miracle for a child in need.