A Life She Chose

Most girls growing up in poverty in India have one of two choices: marry young or work as a domestic helper while their brothers go to school. But Ashwini believed in herself, and so did her sponsor.

Seventeen-year-old Ashwini could be married right now. She could have a baby and stay at home cooking and cleaning all day for a husband she didn’t choose and doesn’t particularly like.

Or, Ashwini could be working full time as a “domestic helper” — as a maid in the home of a family that has no problem employing an underage girl who should be in school.

If Ashwini had a brother, she might have had to watch him go to school every day while she stayed home and helped with housework.

For thousands of girls growing up in poverty in India, these are their choices.

But Ashwini chose a different path. Continue reading “A Life She Chose”

Never Their Fault

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.

Amin-Erdene zips up her cousin’s vest on a 30-degree day in Ulaanbaatar. They live next door to each other in the ger district of Mongolia.

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”

Uniting Families and Building Opportunity in India’s Slums

Through family reunification and sponsorship, children living in orphanages or in the slums of New Delhi receive the love, support and resources they need to thrive.

 

Paavai’s parents died when she was 2 years old, and for the past 10 years she and her two brothers have lived with their elderly grandmother. Her grandmother has a tea stall, which is their only source of income, and she worries what will happen to her grandchildren when she passes away someday.

Eleven-year-old Vaishali lives in an orphanage. Her mother passed away and her father is incarcerated. Vaishali would live with her grandparents, but between her grandfather’s leg injury that left him unable to work and her grandmother’s meager salary, they don’t make enough to support her.

Ever since Aadita’s father passed away from tuberculosis, her mother has had to work two jobs — one at her tea stall and the other as a door-to-door housemaid — in order to support Aadita and her four other children. Aadita’s mother cares deeply for her daughter and hopes she will not have to be a housemaid someday, too.

These three girls all live in New Delhi. And for one reason or another, they are vulnerable — vulnerable to growing up without a stable family, vulnerable to dropping out of school and vulnerable to extended poverty.

Continue reading “Uniting Families and Building Opportunity in India’s Slums”

Blow out the candles and make a wish.

Kids and birthdays go together. Need proof? Just watch the video above, where we ask kids why birthdays are the best day of the year.

Birthdays are a great day to remind children how special they are, how much we love them and that they are making the world a better place, simply by being themselves.

Send you sponsored child a special birthday card!

But children living in an impoverished place or facing a difficult hardship, like the child you sponsor, may rarely have a chance to hear that they are valuable, precious and worthy of celebration.

That’s why International Day of the Child is so fun! On June 1, because of you and your generosity, your sponsored child just gets to act like a kid.

They eat special treats, play fun games, spend time with their families and friends and open a present just for them.

But, it’s only because of kind and compassionate sponsors that this special day is possible. Continue reading “Blow out the candles and make a wish.”

Thank You Holt Volunteers!

2017 Thank You Video-Volunteers from Holt International on Vimeo.

Thank you to our amazing creative team of volunteers, advocates and supporters!

You are amazing.  Seriously. We can’t thank you enough.

At Winter Jam this year, nearly 6,000 concertgoers felt moved to sponsor a child through Holt — a feat that simply would not have been possible without your heart, your energy and your dedication as a Holt volunteer. Continue reading “Thank You Holt Volunteers!”

Single Moms in Haiti Build a New, Wonderful Life

Through job skills training and support, single moms in Haiti work hard to create a better life for themselves and their children, sometimes in the most wonderfully unexpected of ways…

Julia Joseph Julien squats near the wall and mixes plaster in her small yellow bucket. Her black hair pulled back in tight braids and a colorful barrette, she scoops then spreads the mixture onto a ceramic tile and carefully places it on the wall, making a tight row.

The Haitian sun is hot. This is hard work, and she is the only woman doing it.

But she is smiling — she is so proud. As a single mom, she knows that these new skills will change her life and change her children’s future.

“So many single moms are taking care of children and unable to work or be trained to work because of that,” says Mike Noah, director of services for Holt’s Africa and Haiti programs. “Some moms said they were in despair for the future, not sure how they would get food or care for their children.”

Continue reading “Single Moms in Haiti Build a New, Wonderful Life”

Life Inside the Caves of Northern China

Through Holt’s child sponsorship program, dedicated sponsors create pathways for orphaned and vulnerable children to escape poverty and chase their dreams — an especially rare opportunity for children living in caves in northern China.

China child sponsorship — Pei
If 15-year-old Pei ever hopes to escape the poverty and stigma associated with living in a cave, she will need to stay in school as long as possible.

Only the poorest families still live in caves.

Some families use the dusty, mountainside rooms as animal pens to protect their sheep or goats from the freezing winter cold. Others store grain or farm equipment in their cave, and live nearby in a more modern brick or concrete home.

Until she was 4 years old, Huan Yu Pei had never lived in a cave. She didn’t face the stigma cave families feel as the bottom of society. She never felt the draft from the makeshift door.

In the cave-dwelling community where she grew up in China’s Shaanxi province, Pei’s family was considered middle class.

Her father worked in a factory and her mother cared for the house. Pei’s grandfather spent his days harvesting their large plot of land, where they grow sweet apples. Their life was comfortable.

Then, in 2006, Pei’s father was in a motorcycle accident on his way to the printer manufacturing company where he worked as a machine operator. His leg was badly mangled and broken. In this rural, underdeveloped region of northwest China, there were few hospitals and none that Pei’s father could afford without health insurance. The injury never fully healed, and Pei’s father needed crutches to move. He lost his job, and the family fell into poverty and debt.

China child sponsorship — Pei's life.
A view of several cave homes in Ruicheng, an agricultural region about 450 miles from Beijing, China.

Soon after they moved into the cave where they still live today, Pei’s mother vanished. Continue reading “Life Inside the Caves of Northern China”

Holt Cambodia Repairs Roofs for 18 At-Risk Families

In Cambodia, palm trees are used in all kinds of ways. The tall stalks act as landmarks, designating a family’s home and property. Its fruit is used to make delicious “fish amok” — a traditional Khmer dish featuring rich, creamy coconut curry. And when you pull apart the different strands of the palm leaf, you can bend and twist it upon itself to create the traditional craft of a rather lifelike locust.

Cambodians use palm trees for all kinds of good things.

But when palm leaves are used to thatch a family’s roof? This isn’t so good. Continue reading “Holt Cambodia Repairs Roofs for 18 At-Risk Families”

A Merry Christmas Thanks to Holt Sponsors

Since 2004, Holt child sponsors and donors have generously given a little extra during the holiday season to help children around the world receive extra special Christmas celebrations and gifts.

Because of those contributions, children enjoy a happy, healthy and warm holiday season, filled with nutritious food, special presents and celebrations with friends, family and caregivers. We recently received reports from our 2016 holiday celebrations around the world!

Last December, in Vietnam, 620 children received new clothes and ate a special meal. They cheered loudly when they saw the food set up for them, and enjoyed a special day of dancing and singing.

Special holiday performances for children and staff at a care center in Vietnam.
Sponsor-supported children in Vietnam show off their Christmas gifts.

Holt-Vietnam staff says:  “On behalf of the children, we would like to send our deep gratitude to Holt sponsors for your generous support, and invaluable gift to the kids to have a cheerful traditional holiday.”
Continue reading “A Merry Christmas Thanks to Holt Sponsors”

A Day-in-the-Life of a Sponsored Child: Wei’s Story

Just before Chinese New Year at the end of January, Holt staff and child sponsorship advocates in Nanning, China, visited Wei’s rural village.

Here, Wei lives with his mom and two sisters in a small home. Wei was excited to spend time with his advocate, Mr. Pan, who is the man in the leather jacket throughout this video. Wei showed staff his house, favorite fishing spot and the lush farmland that surrounds his home.

See what a day is like in Wei’s life and how sponsorship is helping him to stay in school — a luxury that his older sisters can no longer afford.

Thank you for the continued support of your sponsored child. We can’t emphasize often enough the very real difference your commitment makes in the lives of the children in Holt’s programs. Because of you, children are safer, healthier and staying in school longer. They feel loved and confident knowing their U.S. sponsor cares for them.

As you watch Wei’s story, consider how life may be similar or different for the child you chose to sponsor.

*As a note of authenticity, the voice in the video is not Wei’s, but it does accurately convey Wei’s responses during our recent visit and interview with him.