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”
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”
On the cover of this year’s Gifts of Hope catalog, 10-year-old Gloria holds a goat her single mother received to help her build the strength and self-reliance she needs to independently support her four daughters. Gloria and her family live in rural Uganda, where graduation rates for boys still exceed that of girls, where girls often marry by age 16 and where women often become the sole source of support for their children. But through Gifts of Hope and child sponsorship, Holt supporters are helping to empower women and girls in this community — making, as some have said, the best investment in the world.
That is a ridiculous question.
This is what Gorret’s face conveys in response to the question just asked of her by the guests in her home — a team of visitors from Holt International, the organization that sponsors her two eldest daughters.
Gorret is a 28-year-old mother of four girls. Angella and Gloria are tall and slender 10-year-olds with thoughtful brown eyes. They are identical twins. Her youngest daughter is a playful 4-year-old who peeks, giggling, from behind a curtain as we talk. Her middle daughter is 7. They are a house full of women, and a house headed by a woman. Four year ago, the girls’ father abandoned his family in a rented room in Kampala — leaving his wife alone to care for her four young children, including a newborn daughter. With no source of income to pay her rent, and no way to support her children, Gorret packed up their few belongings and moved her girls back to her childhood home in the rural Ugandan village of Dwambe.
Education is the single most effective weapon against poverty. When children are educated, they are empowered to transform not just their own lives — but to break the cycle of poverty in their families and communities.
But around the world, children face tremendous obstacles to their education and the sad truth is that millions of school-aged children are not in school.
In the Philippines, children and adults with even common disabilities, like blindness, face stigma so great that it affects every aspect of their life, including their ability to find jobs, educational opportunities or even safe, adequate housing. Some families, like single father Romy and his two Holt-sponsored children, live in isolation from their broader communities — out of sight and out of mind. But Romy is smart, savvy and motivated to build a better life for his children. Learn how $100 and just a little support from his community has given Romy and his sons greater hope for the future.
Romy de Luna is a tall, slender man with a kind, soft face. It’s raining hard in Manila today, and Romy huddles under a ripped white tarp that’s draped from the cinderblock doorway of his storefront — a wide set of steal bars painted bright blue and covered by thick grated wire to keep passersby from reaching through. The 10×12-foot space behind these bars serves as both his business, and his home. On one wall a computer — the only computer in Romy’s neighborhood — sits behind a plexiglass case. It’s coin operated, so any user can pay one peso, or about 2 cents, for five minutes of Internet use. Currently, a teenage boy stands at Romy’s computer, scrolling through his Facebook feed.
Romy is one of 51 families from his neighborhood in urban Manila, Philippines enrolled in a Holt-funded program intended to help keep vulnerable children in school and help struggling families learn the skills to increase their incomes. With the help of Holt donors and child sponsorship, Romy’s children receive support to ensure they are successful in school by providing supplies, lunches and other necessities, including a community development advocate who visits with the family regularly. Romy attends monthly meetings with the other families from his neighborhood, and they discuss common hardships, share advice, discuss business success and receive lessons from Holt’s partner staff on such topics as good hygiene practices, financial planning and raising strong, healthy children. Like Romy, all 51 families in the program have school-aged children living in their homes and all run a sari-sari — or “assorted goods” — store. As a part of the program, they can access small, low-interest loans, which they use to expand their product offerings or grow their business. They repay the loans, interest free, in small, weekly payments. Then, they can borrow again. Continue reading “With Hope In Sight”
In the most impoverished communities of Manila, Philippines, Holt’s on-the-ground partner is working with at-risk families to build and strengthen small businesses. Because when parents can independently provide for their children, we know that families succeed and children thrive.
Teacher Chris raises his hand to quiet his classroom of 15 children.
The 4 and 5-year-olds turn to look at him, each in their matching school uniforms — brightly colored T-shirts with Bertha Holt’s iconic “every child is beautiful” quote screen printed on the back. They break into song, cheerfully chanting, “Thank you, Lord, for giving us food. Hallelujah, praise the Lord,” in unison.