It’s Safe Here

While domestic violence has become a growing issue in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, only one shelter remains open for the dozens of women and children who seek refuge here every year. Earlier this year, with a loss in government funding, the shelter nearly closed it doors. 

Och* leans into her mom – making herself as physically close to her as possible.

Och is 4 years old, with shiny black, braided hair, a red striped dress and knee-high boots. She is shy of strangers, and whispers into her mom’s ear as she eats the sugar cube that came with her mom’s tea. Her mom, Bayarmaa*, is 29 and has the same dark shiny hair as her youngest daughter. It’s late morning on a Tuesday in May, and Och’s older sister — a third grader — is currently away at school.

But neither of Bayarmaa’s daughters like being away from their mom for long. And they never, ever want to be left alone.

Bayarmaa sits with her hands tucked between her knees, and her shoulders curved protectively inward.

“How are you feeling now?” we ask her.

Tears start forming in the corners of her eyes.

“The most important mission in my life,” she says, “is to raise my children safe, and to give them all the education they can get. I will support them in every way.” Continue reading “It’s Safe Here”

Transformed in One Year

One year ago, 1-year-old Archelle weighed 16 pounds. Her tummy protruded and her hair had an orange-ish tint from malnutrition. But then she received a Gift of Hope — a gift of sponsorship.

In October 2016, Johnise walked into the Holt Haiti office in Port-au-Prince, her 20-month-old daughter Archelle on her hip. Weariness dulled Johnise’s eyes as she used a tissue to wipe her daughter’s runny nose. She sat down with a social worker, and began to share about her life.

Archelle and Johnise in October 2016, when they first came to the Holt office.

Johnise is a single mother who lives with her daughter, her grandmother, mother, sisters and their children — all nine of them in a single-room house. Their home is near a trash-strewn riverbed in Tabarre, one of the poorest neighborhoods in the area. When it rains, their house floods. In the rainy season, Johnise spends sleepless nights bailing muddy water out of their flooding house one bucket at a time. Mosquitos hatch in the stagnant water and buzz endlessly in the thick tropical air.

Continue reading “Transformed in One Year”

This Gift of Hope Keeps Kids and Families Safe and Warm!

Preun’s three children outside their home before repairs.

Cold. Wet. Shivering at night. Constant colds and flu. Kids with sleep deprivation. For Preun, a single mother of three school-aged children, this was simply her reality.

With no money to repair her leaking roof and thatched walls, the rainy season in Cambodia was absolutely miserable — and a very serious threat to her children.

Every time it rained, her children’s school supplies, their precious rations of rice and few blankets were soaked or ruined. Her children struggled to keep up in school. The coconut leaves they used for walls dripped with cold, dirty water. When they fell sick, they could not afford to see a doctor.

But in June, Preun received the most surprising, exciting, miraculous news! Continue reading “This Gift of Hope Keeps Kids and Families Safe and Warm!”

Ending Domestic Violence, One Neighborhood at a Time

For women and children at risk of abuse in India, Holt donor and sponsor-funded education programs are helping to prevent violence and help moms and children escape abuse. 

Raji, 12, stands outside the door to her home.

Even at night, when Raji’s father pulls the string switch to the single light bulb in their one-room house and her surroundings go dark, there is no privacy.

A single trickle of orange street light flickers in through a crack under her tin door, and with the faint glow of light, Raji can see her two brothers as they shuffle and roll on the floor next to her, trying to get comfortable. She can hear and see her parents as they climb into their iron-framed twin bed, settling into sleep. Continue reading “Ending Domestic Violence, One Neighborhood at a Time”

There For Them Always

After Kavi and Krit were born, life became difficult. But with the support of Holt sponsors and donors, they now have everything they need to grow strong. And their mom has everything she needs to be there for them, always.

“This time,” says Ping, “I will do things differently.”

As this mother of three shares her story, she can’t focus for long before Kavi or Krit — her twin 8-month-old boys — draw her attention back. With buzzed hair and drooly grins, they scoot and shriek and take off crawling in opposite directions.

Twins are exhausting.

But Ping’s wide, eye-reaching smile is genuine — barely hinting at the hardship she has endured.

Continue reading “There For Them Always”

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”

Thank You For Seeing My Life

Before leaving on Holt’s inaugural Mongolia Heritage Tour this past summer, John Clark and his family donated the funds to build a new ger — a new home — for a vulnerable family living beside a garbage dump in Ulaanbaatar. Below, John shares what inspired his family to give, followed by a radio interview with the family who received a new ger. 

Standing in front of the brand new ger they built, the Clark family poses for a photo with the family who received this new ger. From left: Ariana Clark, Carver Clark, Enkhjargal, her husband and three children, and John and Janette Clark.

The most memorable time for me on the Mongolian tour was being able to help a family in need of permanent housing in Ulaanbaatar.

Before we left for our tour, I was moved by the Holt video showing how others had donated funds to help build gers for needy families. I didn’t consider the expense. I felt we should do this. Continue reading “Thank You For Seeing My Life”

Preventing Trafficking, Keeping Children Safe in Cambodia Part 3/3

Part three of three

Pelly, second from the left, at a community group meeting in her village.

Just down the road from Yai lives Pelly and her family. With four children to care for and feed, Pelly used to travel to Thailand to work, making just a few dollars a day tilling and harvesting fields for other farmers or doing manual labor. Her husband makes about $7 per day working construction, but he often travels for work, too. Continue reading “Preventing Trafficking, Keeping Children Safe in Cambodia Part 3/3”

Preventing Trafficking, Keeping Children Safe in Cambodia Part 2/3

Part two of three

Yai at a community group meeting.

Garment production is booming in Cambodia.

Nearly 80 percent of Cambodia’s exports are textiles — shoes, clothes, plush toys. And of the 300,000-500,000 people who work in garment factories, 91 percent are women. Garment factories dot the countryside, especially southwest of Phnom Penh’s city center, where land is cheaper. Some factories are large — huge, sprawling tin buildings with giant, industrial fans swirling overhead. Some are built campus-style, where many factories occupy the same fenced-in space, with security controlling traffic through a front gate. Continue reading “Preventing Trafficking, Keeping Children Safe in Cambodia Part 2/3”