Holt International CEO and President Phil Littleton is currently touring Holt’s programs in Southeast Asia and Korea, visiting the children and families we serve. Today, Holt’s creative services director, Brian Campbell, describes their visit to a childcare center in the Philippines where Holt helps to support orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children through child sponsorship. Holt also works to find loving adoptive families for eligible children in care.
by Brian Campbell, Creative Services Director
Manila, Philippines— Today, Holt International President and CEO Phil Littleton and I are heading out of Metro Manila to visit an outlying childcare center where Holt helps to support many of the children in care through child sponsorship.
Joining us on today’s visit is Eva Cubacub, a social worker from Kaisahang Buhay Foundation (KBF), Holt’s longtime partner in the region. Eva knows the children well at this orphanage, as she has made several trips to visit children in Holt’s sponsorship program. Some of the children are also in process to join families through adoption.
A warm, steady rain falls as we leave the city, and we watch as people on the streets dart from one covered porch to another. “Oh, it looks like an early spring for the Philippines,” says Eva as she looks up at the flannel gray skies.
Away from the traffic of Metro Manila, we come to a quiet building that looks like an old mission school, with Spanish arches, tile roofs and stucco and brick construction. A birthday party is taking place – not for one of the children in care, but for a little boy from the community who has decided to celebrate with the children in this orphanage. It’s lunchtime and the children eat quickly as they spy the big cake being cut into generous pieces.
Eva stands near a pretty little girl sitting apart from the other children. “Are you the one who picked up my friend?” asks the girl in a small, sweet voice. Surprised, Eva gets down to 6-year-old Christina’s* eye level and asks, “What do you mean?”
Holt International CEO and President Phil Littleton is currently touring Holt’s programs in Southeast Asia and Korea, visiting the children and families we serve. Today, Holt’s creative services director, Brian Campbell, reports on Phil’s visit with a struggling grandmother and her grandson. Through family strengthening services, Holt is helping to support this family in partnership with Holt Sahathai Foundation (HSF) in Thailand.
by Brian Campbell, Creative Services Director
In the parking lot of a high-rise apartment building stands a dilapidated utility building, long forgotten by the apartment residents. Abandoned signs, old promotional banners and tarps to keep out the rain cover this small one-room structure. A couple of broken office chairs and a few stumps of wood make up the living room. This small utility building is now home to Tien and her grandson, Satang.
Today, Holt Sahathai Foundation (HSF) director, Jintana, will introduce Phil Littleton, Holt president and CEO, to this struggling family and detail how Holt and HSF have come alongside them.
After Tien’s daughter gave birth to Satang, she refused to raise him. Tien then stepped up to raise and care for her grandson. The family’s difficult situation came to the attention of HSF through a cooperative effort with local social workers and hospital authorities. Since Satang’s birth, HSF has made repeated efforts to contact Satang’s mother, but she has been unresponsive, only appearing from time to time to ask her mother for money. It is HSF’s hope that one day, through counseling and support, Satang will be united with his mother.
In the meantime, HSF has stepped in to help this grandmother and her grandchild stay together, providing Tien with powdered formula, food and social services to ensure good health and nutrition for both of them.
In 1976, HSF began providing support services to struggling families, enabling them to care for their children. Over the years, services expanded and today include counseling, financial assistance, vocational training, educational sponsorship and income-generating projects. Training in proper health and nutrition also reinforces a family’s ability to care for their children.
“With support, Tien and Satang are going to make it,” explains Jintana to Phil. “Having Satang in Holt’s child sponsorship program will help a great deal. It’s going to take some hard work on the grandmother’s part, but she is dedicated to keeping her remaining family together. They will make it.”
Holt CEO and President Phil Littleton is currently in Thailand visiting the children and families Holt serves alongside our long-time partner in the region, Holt Sahathai Foundation (HSF). Here, Holt’s creative services director, Brian Campbell, reports on Phil’s visit with a little girl he helps to support through Holt’s child sponsorship program.
by Brian Campbell, Creative Services Director
Nakhon, Thailand— After a busy couple days visiting HSF programs and services for children and families in the community of Nakhon, a special moment awaits Phil Littleton, CEO of Holt International.
For the past two years, Phil and his family have helped to support a little girl named Mali*, who lives here in Nakhon with her mother Lawan*, her twin sister Kanya* and several extended family members. Mali and Kanya’s mother is 24-years-old and works as a server at a small restaurant, earning about $7 per day. On such low income, she can hardly afford to meet all of her daughters’ needs – especially their educational expenses. With assistance from Phil’s monthly sponsorship donations, HSF is able to give Mali the supplies she needs to attend school – including a school uniform.
Last November, when another Holt staff member visited Lawan and her daughters at their home in Nakhon, Lawan asked to send a special message to Phil. “Thank you,” she said. “Without your support, it would be very hard for my children and me. Expenses are very high, and I could not afford to provide for two children and their education. My main concern is the education of my children.” Mali and her sister started preschool in August 2011, and are now in Kindergarten.
At home in Eugene, Phil’s family keeps a picture of Mali in a little magnetic frame on their refrigerator. As new child reports arrive from Holt’s child sponsorship program, Phil and his wife share the updates about Mali with their three children and pass pictures of her around the dinner table. From a distance, little Mali has become a part of their family.
Today, for the first time, Phil will have the opportunity to meet Mali and her family.
As malnutrition continues to grow among children entering and living in institutions overseas, Holt has begun to explore new ways to address this devastating problem. In one major step forward, Holt has entered into an exciting partnership with the adoption nutrition organization SPOON Foundation. In the coming years, Holt and SPOON will design and implement a wide range of sustainable and affordable nutrition programs to optimize the health and wellbeing of the children in our care overseas. Here, Jennifer Goette reports on the vital importance and potential impact of Holt’s growing work with SPOON.
by Jennifer Goette, Director of Strategic Initiatives
Rajeesh* is a staff favorite at the Vathsalya Charitable Trust (VCT) informal school in Bangalore, India. A 4-year-old charmer with deep brown eyes that gleam with an impish twinkle, Rajeesh bounces around from one activity to the next and often offers to help his teachers in class. He is also quite self-sufficient. On a weekday visit to VCT – Holt’s partnering care center in Banglore – I watch, and giggle, as Rajeesh takes a cup out of the cupboard, helps himself to a drink of water, and then places the unwashed cup back in the cupboard. He flashes a big smile and skips off. One of the cooks shakes her head and smiles as she retrieves the cup and washes it.
Two years ago, Rajeesh was nowhere near the energetic kid that he is today. The sparkle in his eye was dulled by malnutrition. Less than 2-years-old when he was found abandoned and referred to VCT, Rajeesh was quickly diagnosed with severe anemia and moderate cognitive delays. At the time, Rajeesh was not able to speak and could not sit up without assistance. He also had a protruding stomach, often a sign of protein deficiency.
This little guy was immediately given a blood transfusion for anemia and started on iron, zinc and calcium supplements. The staff at VCT balanced his diet and began to regularly monitor his anemia. It still took more than one year in care before the staff noticed significant improvements in Rajeesh’s energy and his iron tests reached normal levels. A few months before his third birthday, Rajeesh was transferred to Bangalore, where he now lives with a loving foster family and has access to speech therapy twice a week. Although Rajeesh continues to struggle with concentration and has some difficulty speaking – signs of the irreversible damage caused by early malnutrition – he has shown vast improvements in his energy level and overall health.
A Growing Problem, A New Challenge
We know malnutrition is a serious problem. Malnutrition has been responsible, directly or indirectly, for 60% of the 10.9 million deaths annually among children under 5 around the world. Research shows that mild to moderate malnutrition during a child’s critical early years, particularly iron deficiency, can have significant consequences – such as delayed motor and mental development and reduced resistance to infection. Severe malnutrition during the first few years of life can lead to impaired cognitive functioning and irreversible stunting. We know all of these things. And yet, while there are several global initiatives to address malnutrition and hunger for children living in the care of their families, none of these programs focuses on the most vulnerable children – those living in institutions and care centers, outside of family care.
In many countries where Holt works, our partner agencies are seeing more children like Rajeesh coming into their care. Some partners estimate that as many as 85% of all children now entering care have significant nutrition and health-related problems! This poses a daunting challenge for our staff and partners. Research shows that children with poor nutritional status are less likely to form and maintain healthy attachments with their caregivers or engage in activities that would otherwise advance their development. This could affect their chances to be reunified with their birth family or successfully placed with a foster or adoptive family. Rajeesh is one of the lucky ones. He has not only survived and thrived despite early nutritional deficiencies, but he has also been matched with an adoptive family and will soon start a new life in the United States!
Not every child is so fortunate.
At Holt, our primary goal is to ensure a safe, stable home for every child. To achieve our mission, we must do everything we can to maximize nutrition and health in the children we serve. Our partners have excellent clinical teams on the ground focused on determining the course of treatment and care for each child, but the nutrition issues are complex. Not only are more children entering care undernourished, this issue is confounded by the increasing number of children with special needs. Further complicating the issue are the nutritional risks posed by institutionalization itself. While many children enter care malnourished, children also become malnourished as a result of being in care.
We at Holt are very happy to introduce “China Moon,” a blog developed and maintained by Holt’s China program staff. Designed to give families and constituents an insider glimpse of Holt’s China program, China Moon will feature tips and FAQs for families in process, updates from the field, info on adoptee tours and camps, and much more! Click here to read and follow!
Phil Littleton, Holt International’s president and CEO, is currently in Thailand visiting Holt’s longtime partner Holt Sahathai Foundation (HSF), and spending some time with HSF foster families and the children in their care. For over 35 years, Holt has worked in cooperation with HSF to serve the needs of homeless and at risk children and families in Thailand.
Takeo Province, Cambodia — The sky, a soft blue sheet, void of any clouds, adds to the quieted peacefulness of Takeo Province. To my left are the vast never-ending rice fields dotted with cows, children, and the occasional palm tree. It is dry season now and there is no water in sight. As I walk down the road, the houses of Khvav Commune come into view, most of them look the same, built up on stilts with palm frond roofs. You can tell a family’s income level by whether the house has walls, and if there are cows, chickens, or pigs in the yard.
Seeing a westerner is a rare occasion for these families; one might come through town once or twice a month. The children in the houses and on the streets are always very intrigued. Some are excited to practice their English, and yell out a, “Hello, how are you?” Others are shy and peer around a fence, their eyes focused on me.
Even though school got out several hours ago, many of these children are wearing their school uniforms, a dark blue top with white pants or dress. For many children, their school clothes, which are a requirement to attend the village school, are the only clothes they own. I now fully understand the importance of Pathways to Development’s activities to provide over 200 children with school uniforms and supplies.
As my day resumes, I will continue to witness how Pathways to Development, in partnership with Holt International, provides support for these children living in extreme poverty.
Walking down the dusty road, I pass a boy who looks no older than 6, marching three cows toward the rice fields—he carries a small stick, letting the cows know who’s in charge. During the dry, non-planting and harvesting season, most villagers have little or no work. Six months out of the year they take their cows, if they have them, to the rice fields to eat. The men also climb palm trees, cutting down the fruit and cooking it into palm sugar, which they can then sell at market. This activity generally brings in around a dollar per day for the family. Continue reading “Putting it All Into Perspective”
Learn more about adopting a child from China. Join us for an informational webinar.
News travels fast. And in today’s 24-hour news cycle, newspapers seem to publish a constant and steady stream of articles on the growing decline in international adoption. While one country closes their adoption program, another places tougher requirements on families hoping to adopt.
As a family considering adoption, don’t lose heart.
One fact remains: our world is home to a staggering number of orphaned and abandoned children. And every day, Holt continues to find loving families for children who need them.
In China, a great many children with treatable or manageable conditions are waiting to find loving, adoptive families. Through strong relationships with the Chinese government and social welfare institutes, Holt is able to match many of these children with families in a relatively short timeframe. The process is smooth and reliable, and once you apply to adopt a child with an identified special medical or developmental condition, or an older child, your child can be home in 12-18 months!
As you consider your options, we encourage you to talk with families who have recently completed a special needs adoption from China. Experienced families are often a great source of guidance and insight.
Calling all Holt friends, families and supporters! We need volunteers for the upcoming God of All Glory tour!
For several years, Holt has partnered with Christian artists to share Holt’s mission and vision with concertgoers. During the events, our partnering artists also encourage their fans to support a child in need through Holt’s child sponsorship program.
With a booth at each event, Holt makes it easy for concertgoers to sponsor a child right then and there.
That’s where you come in!
Holt needs volunteers to help sign up new child sponsors at each upcoming show. In gratitude for your service, you will get free admission to the event and a CD. It’s quick to learn, easy to do and no selling is involved! At the end of the evening, you will also go home knowing you played a role in giving orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children the love and care they need.
Check out the dates and locations, and click here to sign up online. If you have any questions, please email Holt’s volunteer coordinator, Sue Paiement, at email@example.com.
God of All Glory, featuring Wayne Watson, Steve Green, Larnell Harris and Twila Paris
We began the adoption process in October of 2011, after I had received a recommendation of Holt International through a friend who had researched adoption. I sent an email to the agency, inquiring which countries would be open to working with my husband and I. Given that my husband is deaf, we worried that other countries would view his deafness as a disability that would prevent effective parenting. I received a response from Holt that if we were willing to adopt a child who was also deaf, most countries would be open to working with us. So, we sent in our application and began praying.
About two weeks after submitting our application, we were asked by Holt’s waiting child assistant if we would be interested in looking over the file of an older hearing impaired boy from India. We were cautiously optimistic. We didn’t want to get our hopes up, but the minute we saw Abraham’s face, we knew he was our boy.
Abraham Herston waits in India for his family.
A week later, on November 3, 2011 to be exact, the Waiting Child committee at Holt met to discuss Abraham’s future. That same afternoon, I received a call that we had officially been matched with him. We will never forget that day – the excitement of knowing that we were finally going to be parents, the gratitude we felt to our Lord and to Holt, and the fear of the unknowns ahead.
Because my husband is deaf, we knew that getting Abraham home in timely manner was key. Due to the fact that he was an older child, the timeframe for his success at learning language was growing thin. We had to get him and get him home fast, so that he did not miss his opportunity for learning language.
Through a Special Needs Adoption Fund (SNAF) grant provided by generous donors, we were able to bring Abraham home sooner than we had expected.
Abraham has been home for three months. During that time, he has gone from having no means of communication and knowing no sign language, to having a sign language vocabulary of over 120 words. In addition, he is also signing short sentences. He is able to tell us what he needs and that he loves us.
Before learning about Holt and beginning the adoption process, we thought that having children would not be a reality for us, and that children were not in God’s plan for us. However, through Holt and the assistance of the SNAF grant, our prayer was answered and we were blessed with the most amazing little boy. Through the assistance of the SNAF fund, not only did our child come home, he came home quickly. And we are so thankful for that.
Holt’s Special Needs Adoption Fund helps children with special needs come home to the families who are waiting for them. Help a child come home today! Give a SNAF grant!