Widowed at 38, and supporting six children, Sao Yien struggled to make ends meet. But when she received a Gift of Hope to build a small business, she realized how strong and independent she truly could be.
When Sao Yien said goodbye to Thoa, she buried her head in Thoa’s shoulder and cried. She didn’t say anything. She just cried. And so did Thoa.
Thoa Bui is Holt’s vice president of programs in South and Southeast Asia. Sao Yien is a woman in our family strengthening program in Battambang, Cambodia. A widow, Sao is the sole support for seven members of her family, including her own child, her sister’s five children and her 90-year-old grandmother. Until two years ago, when Holt’s social work team in Cambodia began working with Sao, she and her family were living in extreme poverty.
“At that moment before we parted,” Thoa says, “she was crying — and I was crying too to be honest — and I said I have a lot of feelings because I totally understand what you have gone through, and I understand the burden of responsibility that you continue to carry for these children and your family.” Continue reading “Realizing Her Potential”
Because of you, Gerel and her daughters have a safe home, and hope for the future. But when we first met them nine months ago, Gerel was six months pregnant, and bone thin. She ate only flour so that her 3-year-old daughter, Erhi, would have enough to eat. Both Gerel and her daughter suffered from malnutrition.
Holt’s feeding specialists have traveled the world training caregivers in nutrition and feeding best practices — and sometimes, something as simple as a spoon can make all the difference.
Several months had passed since Holt’s Child Nutrition Program team’s last trip to Ethiopia — to help lead a nutrition training at Sele Enat orphanage. And now, Rae Miller, an occupational therapist who specializes in feeding — a skill particularly helpful in her work with the child nutrition program — was there to evaluate how things were going. Already, rates of anemia had decreased and children looked healthier — and happier!
Because of your kindness and generosity, children growing up in a garbage dump in Mongolia have warm meals, nice new school supplies and are able to study just like other kids. Watch as the founder of the Red Stone School shares about this special sanctuary for children, and how you are helping them to live happy lives.
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”
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.
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.
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.
A misconception we often hear is that Holt International is only an adoption agency. This probably stems from our long history in international adoption, but in truth, Holt serves far more children through programs that help them stay with their families.
At Holt, we in fact consider international adoption to be the last, best option for children. Holt’s model of adoption is child-centric, meaning that we uphold the needs of the child as our number one priority. Through this model, international adoption is the final effort we make to ensure that every child has a loving and secure home.
We believe, first and foremost, that every child deserves to grow and thrive in the loving care of their family, whenever possible.
To that end, we strengthen families who are on the edge and need just a little assistance to stay together. We do this through nutritional, financial, health, education and counseling services, which provide the tools and resources families need to independently care for their children. These programs would not be possible without our generous child sponsors!
Unfortunately, and far too often, children are unable to stay with their birth family for a variety of reasons. While we strive to reunite children with their families when this happens, many children remain growing up in orphanages. When that is the case, our goal is to find a family through domestic adoption — which gives a child the opportunity to grow up in the country and culture of his or her birth.
Finally, if the child is still waiting, then we begin to look at international adoption as a way to find a permanent and loving family. We understand the challenges that come with a child being adopted into a new country and culture, and so when international adoption becomes our only choice, we work very hard to make sure that the parents are as prepared as possible to care for the child. We have systems in place to prepare and support both the family and the adoptee — from the moment they apply to the moment they come home, and again when they need support, at any time throughout their lives.
Each child’s journey to a loving and secure home is different. But when you are matched, rest assured that every option was explored, and that international adoption was the best option for your child.
When a team of Holt donors travels to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia to build homes for four of the most vulnerable families in the poorest district of the city, something so unexpected happens — so stunning and so moving — they decide on the spot to build one more.
Amin-Erdene kneels down to zip up her little cousin’s vest — a shiny, hot pink, sleeveless thing that looks far too flimsy for the weather, which has dropped 40 degrees since yesterday. It’s early spring in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, a high desert region where the temperature can swing dramatically from both season to season and day to day. Yesterday, it reached the high 70s. Today, it’s in the low 30s, but feels even colder — a face-numbing, paralyzing cold that makes me want to curl into myself like a potato bug.
But 7-year-old Amin-Erdene and her cousins seem unfazed.
In a country where in the depths of winter the temperature can drop 40 degrees below zero, this is nothing. Amin-Erdene blankets a heavy coat over her little cousin, who sits in an old car seat outside the crowded ger where they’ve been living. Her feet poke out of the coat, in socks and white-heeled dress shoes that make me think of something our local partner said — how parents will often keep their kids home from school in winter because they’re worried about frostbite, and they can’t afford warm shoes. Amin-Erdene’s older brother picks up another little cousin and snuggles her close to him, kissing her on the cheek. Continue reading “Never Their Fault”