The Gift of Hope

When Tieu endures a horrific accident at work and loses her source of income, she fears her daughters will be forced to drop out of school because she can’t afford their fees. But when she receives an unexpected gift, in an unusual size and shape, she begins to feel hopeful again.

Tieu lightly rests her left hand on her right arm. Her skin is painful to look at. Marbled and pocked, shiny and red and raised about an inch above her healthy skin, a severe burn runs the length of her arm, serving as a daily reminder of the gasoline fire that nearly took her life. Tieu is 40 but looks much younger, with shiny black hair parted down the side. She has five daughters — the youngest of which sits beside her now, giggling and bouncing with excitement to have visitors in her home. Another of Tieu’s daughters sits on the other side of her giggly sister, watching her mom with worry as she talks about her burn.

“This daughter,” Tieu says, looking solemnly at her older daughter, “wants to become a doctor so she can treat my hand.” Continue reading “The Gift of Hope”

The Loveliest Place

At a special library and after-school program in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, children growing up in poverty discover a love of reading — and so much more. Read the poems that several children wrote in gratitude to sponsors and donors for their beloved library, full of dreams. 

Smiling shyly, 12-year-old Davaa brings her library book over to show me what she is reading. The title is in Mongolian Cyrillic, but the cover image seems familiar. It’s a group of Western-looking girls in Civil War-era dress, sitting around a table, eating pie.

“She is working on a book about little ladies,” explains our translator, May Gombo, a member of the Holt Mongolia staff.

Little ladies… Oh, it’s “Little Women!” I realize. Of course, Davaa is reading “Little Women” — the classic Louisa May Alcott story about the four March sisters, a story almost unavoidable if you’re a girl under 12 years old and growing up anywhere in the U.S. It’s perhaps surprising to see it here, in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia — about as far as you could possibly get from the book’s setting in Concord, Massachusetts. But it’s not at all surprising that the book’s timeless and universal themes would resonate with a young woman like Davaa. “Little Women” is a story about the bonds of sisterhood, and about a family learning to live with less after the loss of status and wealth. It’s about growing up, and about learning what’s most meaningful in life. Continue reading “The Loveliest Place”

A Language We All Share

When adoptive mom Cindy Lamb visits with students at the Yesus Mena Deaf School in Ethiopia, her fluency in sign language helps her communicate. But it’s another language that creates the most soulful connection. 

This past October, my husband, Steve, and I had the rare privilege of participating in the perfect intersection of a lifetime of interests and passions when we traveled to Ethiopia on a medical mission trip with Holt.  Holt helped build and still supports Shinshicho Primary Hospital and also supports Yesus Mena Deaf School in the same town. Steve is a family practice physician and I am an RN with a graduate degree in deaf education. Twenty-two years ago, we adopted a 4-year-old daughter through Holt who is deaf. So, when we were asked to participate in a medical mission trip to Shinshicho with an opportunity to also be involved with the deaf school, we were immediately determined to be a part of the adventure. Continue reading “A Language We All Share”

Life in the Caves

In China, some of the poorest children and families live in ancient, hand-dug caves — the only housing they can afford. In the harsh, frigid winters, life is not easy. But these kids are in school because of the support they receive from their sponsors. Through education, children like Ping have the best possible chance to escape poverty forever. Thank you for supporting kids like Ping! Your commitment to children is making a world of difference.

To read more about life in the caves, click here.

Back to School, Because of You

On August 28, 2017, Holt Haiti partnered with organization Education Works to throw a first annual Back to School Kickoff for children from impoverished communities and those living in orphanage care in Haiti.

The kick-off was a great success! And, it was all made possible because of the generous gifts of sponsors and donors!

Many parents in Haiti struggle to afford the high cost of school fees, uniforms, books and other supplies for their children. Sometimes, these costs alone are more than they might make in a week, month or longer. But when children don’t have the supplies and uniforms they need, they can’t go to school.

Children living in crèches (Creole for ‘orphanage’) are even more unlikely to receive their very own backpacks and school supplies.

During the Back to School Kickoff, more than 110 children from one northern crèche and school received backpacks, notebooks, pencils, crayons and other school supplies — all lovingly provided by Holt donors and Education Works! Continue reading “Back to School, Because of You”

With A College Degree, Her Life Will Never Be The Same

When Tham Sao Run is home for a visit, her accounting books are so foreign to her family, they could be written in another language.

Neither of her parents have bank accounts. Sao Run isn’t sure if anyone in her village does.

Sao Run reads in the shade under her stilted house, learning about cash flows and shareholders equity. A rusting blue bicycle rests against one stilt and chickens pick through the grass and dust.

In high school, Sao Run raised chickens to pay for her school supplies, books and uniforms. She was especially proud to purchase her bike, a cherished item that meant she would no longer have to walk an hour each way to her high school classes. Continue reading “With A College Degree, Her Life Will Never Be The Same”

The Story of My Life

Through the Independent Living and Educational Assistance Program in the Philippines, young adults aging out of institutional care gain the skills to live successfully on their own. Marlon Cruz was once an ILEA scholar. This is the story of his life, as told by Marlon. 

I was 5 years old when I got lost in the market of Marikina City and never found my parents again. That was the start of my struggles in life. I did not know where I would stay and how I would eat. I came to the point that I was sleeping anywhere I could. To survive, I started to carry baskets and bags of goods for people in the marketplace so I could get money for food. When authorities learned that I had no parents, they put me in an orphanage and they started to look for my parents.

But nobody was found and nobody came back to claim me.

The barangay authorities sent me to Boys Town Complex in Markina City, an institution for children without parents. I was admitted in Mahay, a section in the institution where children like me are housed. I had mixed feelings, happy but sad. Happy because there were people who would care for me and there was food, so I did not have to wonder how I would find food to eat. Happy that I would not experience again what I had been through, I experienced playing again. I focused my attention on playing to avoid thinking of my lost parents and continuing to wonder why I no longer have parents. Continue reading “The Story of My Life”

If We Don’t Adopt Him, Who Will?

When Eric and Jen Grabill first read about their son, Landon, on Holt’s China photolisting, they knew they could give this boy with a severe birth defect the love and care he needed. They also knew that at home with them, he would have access to something he would likely never have in China: an education.

Adoption was something that Eric and I had always planned. We never knew when or where, but we knew we wanted to make a difference in a child’s life. Just like having biological children, no one ever thinks they are ready, but when they do have children they figure things out as they go. So we decided to move forward without “feeling” we were ready and just trusting that it was the right thing to do.

We were early in our process when I found a little boy on Holt’s China photolisting. His innocent little face with his big almond-shaped eyes really caught me. Without hesitation, I clicked on the button to request more information about this little guy. Continue reading “If We Don’t Adopt Him, Who Will?”