For some reason, the children with HIV stuck with him the most.
Last summer, when David Choi traveled to see Holt’s programs in China, he visited orphanages, special medical foster homes for babies, and group homes for kids with special needs.
But something about the children with HIV in the Nanning Group Home project — children who lost their families and now live together in a three-story apartment, hoping to be adopted — those kids touched his heart the most.
“Maybe God highlighted those kids,” says David, a Southern California-based IT professional who began supporting Holt programs last year.
The 28 kids in this program have lots of needs. They rely on donor kindness to provide everything from their school fees and medical care to their monthly rent, their clothes and salaries for their caregivers.
But David wanted to give them something special, and different.
He wanted to give them birthdays.
“Kids with HIV in China are shunned,” he says. “They are closed off from society. They are in one of the worst situations — being orphans and ‘disabled’ in China. But they had so much joy. It was incredibly humbling.”
In China, HIV remains poorly understood. People often fear that they can catch the disease just by sharing air with someone who is HIV-positive. And this fear leads to discrimination — blocking even young kids from attending school. Many of the children at the HIV group home are there because they lost their parents to the same disease. But many still have extended family who wouldn’t take them in — likely out of fear. Once at the group home, the kids have to keep their status a secret because if their landlord finds out, they will be evicted. This has already happened more than once. The kids at the group home have moved eight times in 10 years.
“One of the girls I met said she wanted to be a doctor but she couldn’t because she has this disease,” David says. “That just broke my heart. It makes me sad that these kids are shunned.”
The children at the group home are beautiful, smart, talented — entirely normal — kids. They are vibrant and loved by their caregivers and by Mr. Huang, the man who started the group home. But, they know that HIV makes them different in China.
They know it may hold them back for their whole lives.
But like the many Holt donors who help support these children, David hopes it doesn’t have to.
That’s part of what inspired his generous decision to give a year’s worth of birthday celebrations.
“After my trip, I wanted to tell these kids they are special and valuable and worth celebrating. I really wanted to make sure that each child knows they are seen and known,” David says. “And I wanted to stay connected to them.”
Now, every child celebrates their birthday — complete with cake and decorations and a full party!
While visiting the group home, David also noticed that the children used dated, clunky computers to do their school work.
“I worried about the knowledge gap. Just missing out on technology,” David says. So, in addition to birthdays, he bought them new computers.
“Everything I do is because Jesus changed my heart — He saved me and adopted me as His child,” David says. “Because of God’s grace, my heart overflows with love for these kids. While I was with them, it really opened my eyes to what it means to have an eternal Father — that we are all a part of His family.”
David is like so many child sponsors and donors. His love for kids, his heart for people in need, overflows from a place of understanding how lucky he is for simple things — like the ability to celebrate his own birthday each year — to big things like having a stable, loving home. And, like David, you too can give your sponsored child or another child in Holt’s programs with special needs everything they need to thrive!