Watching Her Grow Up

Linda and Jim Vail have sponsored You Jun since she was 9 years old. Now 18, You Jun wants to say thank you for supporting her all these years.

When Linda and Jim Vail first “met” their sponsored child — when they received her photo in the mail and first read about her life — she was 9, and in crisis.

You Jun’s mother hadn’t been in her life for years, her father struggled with substance abuse and died the year before, and not long after, her uncle passed away too. She and her grandmother were the only ones left.

“The little girl and her granny depend on each other,” her social worker wrote in a sponsor report from 2009. “They lead a hard life.”

You Jun and her grandmother live on less than one acre of land near the Chinese border with Burma. They grow rice to feed themselves — selling any surplus to pay for necessities. But it has never been enough to afford school for You Jun. Continue reading “Watching Her Grow Up”

My Heart is Awake

For Courtney Hohenlohe Langenburg, Holt’s development officer, working on behalf of orphaned and vulnerable children around the world is personal. And nowhere was she reminded of this more than in Mongolia… 

It started in 2015. After a meeting, Paul Kim came to my desk and said, “You know, we should totally do a donor team to Mongolia.” I replied with what I can only imagine was a very blank stare, “Why?”

He sold me on the idea and two and a half years later a team of us were off. I didn’t know a lot about our programs in Mongolia. I just knew it as a small program that Paul had talked about from time to time and that I had a few donors specifically interested in. I left for Ulaanbaatar with an open heart and an open mind.

I want to highlight one day — a day that was particularly hard. After we went to visit the Red Stone School, we went out to visit families who were living near the landfill. The staff in Mongolia took us to find families who needed help — and hope. These families were literally living among the trash of the landfill. In on ger, they were surviving on moldy bread they had found in the garbage.

As an adoptee, it’s impossible not to see yourself in every child who seems to have a less fortunate outcome. That day I found myself asking, “Why me, God? Why was my outcome so different?”

One of my donors, a mother of two children from Mongolia, once told me that the hardest part for her was looking at the ones who would be left behind. The ones who would not go home with a family.

I understand so clearly that I’ve been blessed with the privilege to speak up for those who did not get to go home. And those who do not have anyone to advocate for them. After that I week I understood why Paul, for years, had been pushing me towards Mongolia. He knew that if he could get people to see the program we would understand the need. My heart is awake and ready to answer the call for these kids!

Courtney Hohenlohe Langenburg | Development Officer

Learn more about Holt’s work in Mongolia. 

Holt’s 2017 donor team in Mongolia.

You Made Last Christmas So Special!

Every year, because of the generosity of sponsors and donors, children in Holt’s global programs receive a special surprise: the gift of Christmas!

For most children living in impoverished communities or orphanages, Christmas is just another day. No gifts, not treats, no special meals or extra time with loved ones.

We think sharing Christmas with orphaned and vulnerable children is one very special way to celebrate the true meaning of the season and share the love of Jesus with children in need.

We are so grateful to sponsors and donors who give $25 per child to make this day possible!

Because of sponsors and donors, children receive hand-picked, wrapped gifts — items they want or need chosen by their on the ground advocate. They also receive special, festive meals, often for their entire family, and a day of games, arts and crafts, field trips, visits from Santa or other fun activities!

For each child, Christmas is a day they remember and cherish all year.

Want to join the fun this year? You can donate $25 to provide Christmas to one child here!

Check out just a few of the photos from last year’s Christmas celebrations around the world …

Caregivers in India celebrate with the youngest children at the orphanage.

Continue reading “You Made Last Christmas So Special!”

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.

Merry Christmas, From Aynalem to Degefech

p1b2n85snlp061h3nmd81t3i1tf83Six-year-old Aynalem was adopted from Ethiopia five years ago. One way she and her family stay connected with her birth culture is by sponsoring a child in Ethiopia — a girl named Degefech! This year, in her family’s Christmas card to Degefech, Aynalem — with some typing help from her parents — included a special note just from her.

Hello Degefech, my name is Aynalem. I am 6 years old and I live in Oregon, USA. I am in first grade, in elementary (your primary) school. I play soccer (your football) on a team called Fútbol Club Portland. I like to dance and sing, and I really like to draw. Continue reading “Merry Christmas, From Aynalem to Degefech”

Sponsors in China Become Friends, Mentors and Change-Makers

When a group of professionals from Beijing began sponsoring children in their own country, they soon learned that their impact could go far beyond a monthly gift. What ensued was a genuine relationship with their sponsored children and the possibility of changing China’s culture of philanthropy. 

On a cold winter day in a rural community in northwestern China, an unlikely group of people gather together. Ten of them are deemed among China’s most successful professionals from Beijing — businessmen and women, bankers, university scholars and government officials. The rest of the group, numbering about 30, are made up of 12-to-16-year-olds — most of whom have grown up in critical poverty.

They pull their chairs into uneven circles and sit facing each other — the young students listening intently to what the professionals have to say. And the professionals just as eagerly listen to the teenagers. Although they have never met before, the group bonds quickly over a mutual care and interest in each other’s lives. This connection transcends their differing backgrounds, ages and ways of life.

This group is made up of Holt-sponsored children and their sponsors —meeting for the first time.

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Here, two exciting and groundbreaking things are taking place. For the first time, Chinese sponsors living in China are sponsoring children in their own country. And as these sponsors and sponsored children meet and talk, they begin to build a deep, lasting, in-person relationship. Unlikely events, both. But perhaps even more unlikely is how it all came about.

Continue reading “Sponsors in China Become Friends, Mentors and Change-Makers”

What Makes Children 5x More Likely To Go To School?

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One of Mahananda’s students at the Montessori school where she now teaches.

Mahananda grew up the daughter of a single mother in the slums of Pune, India.

Where she comes from, education was never a guarantee. Public school is not free in India, and for families living in poverty, the choice between food and school fees has always been a no-brainer. Still today, India has one of the largest populations of out-of-school children in the world.

But beyond the poverty of her community, beyond her single-parent household and the barriers to basic education in her country, Mahananda faced another obstacle inherent to the life she was born into…

Mahananda was born a girl.

In India and many places around the world, girls are often kept home from school. If a family can only afford fees for one child, they often opt to send their son to school and their daughter to work.

But when Holt sponsors and supporters create opportunities for girls to go to school, the impact is far-reaching.

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Mahananda observes an activity at a summer camp for teens at the Montessori School where she teaches.

When girls are educated, they have the capacity to create unprecedented economic and social change in their communities. Girls who are educated are more likely to delay marriage until adulthood. They have fewer children. And the children they do have are healthier and stronger. An educated mother will have increased job opportunities and higher wages, giving her the resources to buy food and medicine for her children.

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Mahanada stands beside Usha, one of her fellow Montessori teachers. Usha also received educational sponsorship as a girl growing up in Pune.

Educated women are also five times more likely to send their own children to school – increasing literacy rates in their communities, and breaking the cycle of poverty.

Mahananda is one educated woman who is creating change in her community.

With the support of a Holt sponsor, Mahananda completed her education and went on to become a Montessori schoolteacher. Today, she works for our partner in the region — educating another generation of sponsored boys and girls from the same slum community where she grew up.

As back-to-school season approaches, will you consider giving a gift of $17 to help send a girl to school? By equipping a girl with everything she needs — from books and supplies to a uniform and fees — you can help one more girl to conquer the gender barrier and create a better life for herself, her family and her community.

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The biggest barrier between children and education is …

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Around the world, more than 57 million children don’t attend school.

Why? Gender-based violence and discrimination are a couple reasons, but not the biggest.

The main reason? Cost.

In many developing countries, public schools are not free. The cost of tuition can be more than a few hundred U.S. dollars per term — an overwhelming expense to an already struggling family.

Helping to keep children in school is a simple — and effective — way to keep a family stable, prevent child abandonment and break the cycle of poverty forever.

Holt’s dedicated child sponsors provide the tools and support to help children reach for their dreams, focus on their studies and succeed in school by covering the cost of their sponsored child’s tuition.

But we are asking you to rise up and help children in need, too — this time to provide for the additional costs associated with the exciting back-to-school time.

For $17, you can help cover the costs of books, shoes, uniforms and supplies for an orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable child — and help a child without a sponsor to stay in school.

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Thank you for giving children and families the tools to build a successful, hopeful future. You are transforming the world for an orphaned, abandoned or vulnerable child.