The World’s Best Investment

On the cover of this year’s Gifts of Hope catalog, 10-year-old Gloria holds a goat her single mother received to help her build the strength and self-reliance she needs to independently support her four daughters. Gloria and her family live in rural Uganda, where graduation rates for boys still exceed that of girls, where girls often marry by age 16 and where women often become the sole source of support for their children. But through Gifts of Hope and child sponsorship, Holt supporters are helping to empower women and girls in this community — making, as some have said, the best investment in the world. 

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Gorret stands beside her twin 10-year-old daughters, Gloria and Angella.

That is a ridiculous question.

This is what Gorret’s face conveys in response to the question just asked of her by the guests in her home — a team of visitors from Holt International, the organization that sponsors her two eldest daughters.

Gorret is a 28-year-old mother of four girls. Angella and Gloria are tall and slender 10-year-olds with thoughtful brown eyes. They are identical twins. Her youngest daughter is a playful 4-year-old who peeks, giggling, from behind a curtain as we talk. Her middle daughter is 7. They are a house full of women, and a house headed by a woman. Four year ago, the girls’ father abandoned his family in a rented room in Kampala — leaving his wife alone to care for her four young children, including a newborn daughter. With no source of income to pay her rent, and no way to support her children, Gorret packed up their few belongings and moved her girls back to her childhood home in the rural Ugandan village of Dwambe.

It is here, in the modest stone house where she grew up, that we ask Gorret about her hopes and dreams for her children. Continue reading “The World’s Best Investment”

They Are Welcome Here

Ten years ago, long-time Holt partner Jolly Nyeko donated her land to build a school for the children of Masulita, Uganda. Most of the children had never before seen the inside of a classroom. Today, nearly 300 children attend Jolly Children’s Academy with the support of Holt sponsors.

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Children mug for the camera at Jolly Children’s Academy, a primary school for children ages 3 and older in Masulita, Uganda where Holt child sponsors provide school fees, supplies and uniforms for 150 of the 295 children in attendance. They also help to pay teachers’ salaries at the school.

Jolly Nyeko has started many things in her life. The first helpline to report child abuse in Uganda. One of the first organizations to help children and families recover from brutal conflict in northern Uganda. A PhD in early childhood development, which she also later finished.

But one thing Jolly Nyeko never meant to start was a school.

“Starting a school was not my idea,” says the founder and director of Holt’s long-time partner in Uganda, Action for Children (AFC), as she stands on the grounds of Jolly Children’s Academy — a primary school at the center of a village called Masulita, located about 20 miles outside of Kampala.

Today is an exciting day at Jolly Children’s Academy, where Holt sponsors have teamed up with local staff to throw a party in celebration of International Children’s Day. Earlier, the 150 children in sponsorship at Jolly Academy gathered in the grassy field between their classrooms to perform songs and dances, open gifts from their sponsors and eat a three-tiered cake with white and purple frosting. They now sit and giggle in groups, drinking soda pop and relaxing on the grounds of the school — a school that was once, but is no longer, Jolly’s farm. Continue reading “They Are Welcome Here”

A Joyous Celebration

Last summer, for International Day of the Child, 200 children in Uganda celebrated with songs, dance, cake and gifts! But maybe the most meaningful part of the day was the children’s reflection on their lives and their heartfelt thanks for the transformational support they receive from their sponsors.

A large group of children from Holt’s family strengthening program in Uganda waited nervously to board a van. It was June 1, the International Day of the Child, and they were driving to the Jolly Children’s Education Center for a birthday celebration supported by Holt sponsors. So why were they nervous? For most of the children, this was their first time ever riding in a car!

At first, many of the young children cried when the car started, but it didn’t take long for their whimpers to be replaced by happy laughter that filled the van. It was going to be an exciting day!

The 150 total sponsored children in Uganda live in the Kalongero and Bika communities where they attend Jolly Children’s Education Center. Primary school-aged children traveled from all around these communities to attend the party. Siblings of children in sponsorship were also invited to attend the party — making it a birthday celebration for a total of 200 happy children. Their schoolteachers would be there as well, along with leaders from Holt’s Uganda program and Holt’s local partner organization, Action for Children. Continue reading “A Joyous Celebration”

Can you guess what gift made children shriek with joy?

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It’s only October. So why are we blogging about Christmas?
Because in order to create an incredible Christmas for every orphaned and vulnerable child we serve, we need you now.

This year, let’s create something truly magical for children. Miraculous, even.

So many of the children in Holt’s programs have experienced so much pain and poverty — hardships that no one should ever have to endure, but especially children. The children in our programs have an adult-like maturity. You can see the worry in their eyes.
Continue reading “Can you guess what gift made children shriek with joy?”

Gifts of Hope

Can you put a price tag on Hope? Can you calculate the worth of something so abstract?

The worth of something is, after all, relative — it changes from place to place, person to person, currency to currency. Hope is relative too, and looks different for everyone.

By definition, hope is a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.

The expectation that something is about to change.

Something is about to get better.

Hope is also a feeling — a very powerful one — that drives us to continue to push through hard situations, eager to find the light in the darkness.

Continue reading “Gifts of Hope”

Rights of Children

On November 20, the world will celebrate an important landmark anniversary for human rights and children.

The day marks the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the 1989 United Nations treaty that — for the first time in history — defined the civil, economic, political, social and cultural rights of children. It also set goals to improve the livelihoods of children around the world.

Today, as we reflect on Holt’s nearly 60 years of serving vulnerable children and families around the world, we also celebrate the ways in which the lives of children around the world have improved thanks to the Convention and the work of dedicated children’s rights advocates.

In the same breath, we also recognize areas where more work needs to be done to reach the goals of the Convention, and how Holt can push forward — working toward a more just and equal world, where every child is valued and loved and no child is alone. Continue reading “Rights of Children”

How Does Your Money Get To Your Sponsored Child?

Every month, you faithfully send your $34 to your sponsored child … Sort of.

Technically, you send your gift to Holt International, trusting that we will properly steward your money and direct it to your sponsored child. We don’t, in fact, actually give your sponsored child and his or her family $34 in cash or check each month.

Why, you ask? Wouldn’t our sponsorship program be just as effective if we simply wrote a check each month?

Well, that’s a great question, and it is one that our sponsorship team hears often.

There are many reasons why Holt doesn’t give cash to the children and families in our programs, but the biggest reason is that we care deeply about those who we serve and we want every mother, father and child in our programs to be successful. Remember, Holt’s ultimate goal is to ensure that every child has a permanent, loving family. But while our goal for every child is the same, the way we work toward that goal is different for every child. Continue reading “How Does Your Money Get To Your Sponsored Child?”

Can Holt Sponsors Send Letters

The question our sponsorship staff encounters most frequently is, “Can I write my sponsored child?” followed swiftly by, “What can I send my sponsored child?”

We think both these questions are fantastic! They show that you take your sponsorship seriously — often sending positive thoughts or prayers to your sponsored child, and wondering how he or she is doing. Your desire to connect with your sponsored child and bless him or her with additional gifts is one that warms our hearts … and your sponsored child’s, too!

Generally, the answer is yes, you can write your sponsored child, and yes, you can send extra small gifts. But, there are a few stipulations, mostly designed to ensure your sponsored child and his or her family remain safe and successful in our programs.

Here, we’ve created a “10 do’s and don’ts” list regarding correspondence with your sponsored child.

1. Do send cards, letters and words of encouragement.

What you can send your child varies slightly from country to country, but generally, if your sponsored child lives in China, Korea, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Haiti, Mongolia or India, you can send hand-written cards or letters to your sponsored child.

Unfortunately, sponsors of children living in Ethiopia and Uganda are not able to send personal letters at this time. In these countries in particular, fairness and equal distribution of resources is critical to maintaining the positive relationships the staff have formed with families. If one child receives a letter while another does not, it could cause feelings of jealousy within the community. In order to avoid favoritism and encourage healthy working and learning environments, program staff request that no letters come to children or families in these programs at this time. However, there are some ways you can still give to your child. See #7 below!

2. Do tell your sponsored child about yourself and your family!

We encourage you to write about your family, activities you enjoy together and what life is like where you live. Sponsored children like to hear about your town, if you attend school, what you do for work, if you have pets, and other details that help them get to know you. Continue reading “Can Holt Sponsors Send Letters”

Holt Sponsorship transformation

Every day, more than 7,000 children we serve around the world receive life-saving nutritious food, medical care and access to education. Their families are growing stronger and more stable with the help of vocational training, free daycare programs, medical care and counseling — even forming community groups for support and networking, and their children are learning about sanitation and nutrition.

These are Holt’s sponsored children — children who, through the generous monthly gift of Holt supporters, are thriving and learning and finding hope for the future.

One of those children is Dawit — a young boy living with his family in rural Ethiopia. He has been in Holt’s sponsorship program for a little over two years, and in that time his life and the lives of his family have changed dramatically. You can see the change in his photos, the ones a Holt social worker snaps of him every six months. You can see his face change from sunken and sad to bright and smiley.

Two years ago, Dawit’s family was very poor and did not have enough land to generate income or grow crops to feed their family. They lacked basic sanitation and enough food too eat. Dawit suffered from malnutrition, but his parents could not afford to take him to a hospital.

Then, Holt helped Dawit’s family receive a cow, which provided nourishing milk every day — with extra to sell for income. When the cow had calves, Dawit’s family could sell them and add the earnings to a savings account. Soon after, Dawit developed pneumonia, and thanks to the support of Holt, he was able to see a doctor and receive the antibiotics he needed to grow healthy. Slowly, he grew stronger and taller, and he added weight.

Now, Dawit has close, loving relationships with his mother and father, and he is especially fond of his eldest brother. He likes playing soccer and marbles and he has many friends. Dawit is in school, and in the winter his parents paid for his school fees with the income from a calf. Each day, the whole family is stronger and more stable. Dawit is on track developmentally, and he is not malnourished. He is cheerful, friendly and respectful.

We celebrate victories like Dawit’s and his family’s, but we also know there are many children who need the same support that Dawit receives.

We encourage you to sponsor a child today. It is truly life changing — and the proof is in the pictures!