How Will You Celebrate National Adoption Month?

Join the Holt Ambassadors Network

National Adoption Awareness Month – a wonderful time to spread the word about children throughout the world who need loving families – is coming up in November.

Many Holt adoptive families have found a great way to raise awareness about adoption and help more children find families through the Holt Ambassadors Network.

Composed of people who share the Holt story and raise awareness in their communities about the urgent needs of homeless children around the world, Holt Ambassadors get involved by: organizing fundraisers, speaking at churches, schools or civic groups; or volunteering at Holt events…..Join the Holt Ambassadors Network today!

Post Holt’s banners on your facebook page or blog during National Adoption Month

Holt Ambassador stories and updates:

The Wolterstorffs:

“Once our eyes are opened, we can’t pretend we don’t know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act.”(Proverbs 24:12)

Speaking out for the orphans of this world is one of my passions. We need to be the voices for these vulnerable children; if we aren’t, then who will be? I try to find ways to help, speak out and gather donations for children whenever I have the opportunity. Being a member of the Holt Ambassadors Network helps me do this.

Most recently, I collected 200 dresses for an orphanage in Ethiopia and was recently given some photos of the children wearing the dresses. To see what the children had worn before and then to see them with those sweet dresses on and those big smiles, it made me want to do so much more.

Even the small things, like gathering dresses, makes a huge difference in the life of a child…and there is still so much more to be done.

With November being adoption awareness month, I encourage you all to find a way to spread the word. Continue reading “How Will You Celebrate National Adoption Month?”

Amesegenallo – an adoption story from a sister’s perspective

The journey that changed my life

by Alexa Dantzler

Exactly one year ago, my parents told me news that forever changed my life. One evening, my parents gathered us in the living room. We called our oldest sister, Dana, at college. And then my dad said, with a grand smile on his face, “Girls, your mother and I have decided to begin the adoption process of a little boy, in an age range between 4 and 7, from Ethiopia. We know you have always wanted a little brother. Now, the opportunity has presented itself to us.” After hearing this, it seemed as though our living room turned into a water park – we all broke into tears.

I was so overcome with joy and excitement that I could barely sleep that night. I prayed, asking God and St. Charles – the patron saint of orphans and adoption – to please watch over our adoption process and let it progress quickly. From that night on, I prayed every night for my brother’s health and spirit.

In June, we were matched with our little man, Berhanu. He was four years old and looked so adorable that I wanted to just take him out of the photo, hug and squeeze him. It was so exciting to hear my dad read Berhanu’s monthly health and social assessments, and see updated pictures of him. Finally, one afternoon, my dad called us. It was early December. He told us that we should start packing our bags – on Christmas day, we would pick up our “little prince” in Ethiopia!

All of a sudden, it was December 23rd. I was more than ready to take off for Ethiopia! We arrived in the capital city of Addis Ababa on Christmas Day, which was actually night in Ethiopia. When I stepped out of the airport and into the night air, I sensed a feeling of returning home, as though I just belonged in Ethiopia. In bed that night, I still couldn’t believe we were finally there, and that my brother was sleeping peacefully right next door in the Addis Ababa transition center. Continue reading “Amesegenallo – an adoption story from a sister’s perspective”

Built on a Solid Foundation

Holt’s Family Preservation program in Ethiopia

“The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”–Matthew 7:25

By Ashli Keyser, managing editor

In the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus uses a parable to speak about faith and trusting in Him. He discusses two builders, a man who built his house on an unsteady foundation of sand, and the other who built his house on a rock – a firm foundation of faith and trust.

While the two houses in Jesus’ sermon serve as metaphors for obeying the word of God, I couldn’t help but ponder this parable as I observed two very different houses set atop a small piece of land in southern Ethiopia. Standing in front of one structure was *Ejamo, his wife, *Almaz, and their five children, waiting for our team, including Holt President and CEO Kim Brown, to arrive.

I had seen this family in a photograph, just over a year ago, and was taken aback by how different each of them looked today. The parents no longer had gloomy expressions of hunger on their faces. The children no longer wore tattered rags of clothes. They each stood, happily, in front of their new house, a strongly built hut, made of durable wood and thickly packed mud. Flowerpots lined the windowsills – a mother’s special touch to a home that she could be proud of.

To the right of the family stood another house – a weak and dilapidated hut made of eucalyptus leaves, straw, and misshapen pieces of wood and branches – a house that looked to be more of a nest than a home suitable for two parents and five children. Today that nest-like shack serves only as a devastating reminder of what this family’s life once looked like and what it will hopefully never be again.

What an amazing moment for Ejamo, I thought. Showing off his family’s new and improved house to Kim Brown and the rest of our team. “Look what I’ve accomplished, look what you’ve helped me to accomplish.” The smile on Ejamo’s face matched his equally large 7-foot frame. This family, no longer weak and wanting – like the broken-down house they once occupied – has made a fresh start and stands strong beside their house, a new beginning and a renewed hope.

“We are going to help this family,” said Phil Littleton, Holt’s senior vice president, standing with Ejamo in 2009, in the beginning stages of Holt’s intervention. “We are going to give them what they need to build a better life for themselves.” Continue reading “Built on a Solid Foundation”

Unplanned Trip…Wonderful Blessing

The following is a journal entry from Ashli’s trip to Ethiopia with one of Holt’s medical mission teams.

By Ashli Keyser, Managing Editor

Durame, Ethiopia—Our last day in Durame had come to an end…or so I had thought. As our group piled out of the cars we had been traveling in all day, I thought about how grateful I was to be here and how much it meant to me to see and experience the work Holt is doing in Ethiopia. I thought about the children and babies I had witnessed being rocked, hugged and fed by their loving, smiling caretakers; I thought about Holt’s work at the Shinshicho clinic and the hundreds of sick children and families who were being helped during this week-long medical campaign. It had truly been an amazing trip. But on this particular evening, exhaustion had also set in and I was more than ready to rest my head on my pillow and drift off into sleep. I had already made it half way up the stairs when Dr. Fikru, Holt Ethiopia Director, suggested that a group of us take a trip to one of Holt’s partner care centers—an hour drive from our hotel. I guess sleep would have to wait.

As I positioned myself in the same seat I had left not more than ten minutes ago, I rested my head on the window to the right of me, closed my eyes and tried not to think about how tired I was as the van pulled away from the hotel. It had been a wonderful, eye-opening trip thus far but, at this particular moment, I was feeling a little unenthusiastic. So, I did what I always try to do when things aren’t going according to my plans…I prayed.

“Lord,” I thought. “Thank you for allowing me to be here. I am pretty tired right now and feeling a little unenthusiastic about this unplanned trip. But I am trying to have faith that you still have more to show me….more to reveal to me. I may not be able to see it right now, but I pray that my purpose for this hour-long trip will be revealed to me…help me to see what You want me to see.” An hour later we made it to the care center.

As we entered the gates of the center, the first thing I noticed was the absence of children playing outside. “Where were all the children,” I thought. “What am I do here, Lord?” Continue reading “Unplanned Trip…Wonderful Blessing”

Ethiopia—Where we Go from Here

Surgical center for children and their families

by Ashli Keyser, managing editor

The second Holt medical campaign in six months had come to an end. For a week, Holt Board Member Dr. Becca Brandt and her husband Dr. Kim Brandt volunteered their time and expertise at the Holt Shinshicho clinic. Arriving at the clinic in the early mornings, the Brandts stayed until each patient had been diagnosed and treated. With the conclusion of the campaign, hundreds of children and families had been treated for malaria, tuberculosis, meningitis, goiters, and other common ailments affecting the people of this region.

“This is good,” says Becca. “Most people would not come to the clinic, or they would wait until their needs are too great. The message went out to the community that we were here to provide the services, and they should come and use them.”

Holt’s renovations of the Shinshicho clinic and the subsequent medical campaigns have dramatically changed the lives of children and families of this area. People are now able to receive medical treatment, prenatal care and health and hygiene education in a clean and safe environment.

A lot has been accomplished in this area, and yet children and families continue to get sick, many of them succumbing to treatable illnesses—leaving the questions: what more can we do? And where do we go from here?

During the closing ceremony for the medical campaign, hundreds of residents and community leaders gathered to help answer these questions. One by one, men and women enthusiastically stood up, walked through the crowds of people, stepped onto the stage and proudly pledged what little they could to help the clinic, which has provided them with so much hope, enter into its next phase of expansion…a state-of-the-art surgical center.

“We don’t have surgeons or an operating room at this clinic currently, and the children and parents are not able to get the surgeries they need to survive,” says Dr. Mintesinot Tadewos, clinic physician and coordinator for the medical campaigns. Continue reading “Ethiopia—Where we Go from Here”

From Desperation to a Joy-filled Life

A mother is able to provide for her family with the help of Holt International’s family preservation program

Brian Campbell, Creative Services Director

An excerpt from Brian’s Travel Diary while in Ethiopia.

Messenich in 2008
Messenich recieving a micro-loan to start a small coffee selling business.

Durame, Ethiopia—I met an old friend today. Not an old friend from my childhood or college. Rather, a friend I encountered on my first trip to Ethiopia in February of 2008. Messenich is a smiling, healthy mother of two delightful daughters today, but this was not the reality when we met in 2008. Holt International had just introduced our family preservation services to the Durame and Shinshicho areas in southern Ethiopia. Recently widowed and the mother of three daughters, Messenich’s situation had been brought to Holt’s attention after her youngest daughter had been relinquished into Holt’s care. I traveled with two social workers to Messenich’s home to see what we could do to help preserve the remaining family and give them hope for a better future.

When I traveled there for the first time, I remembered thinking that Messenich’s home was tidy and the structure was sound and sturdy. The sturdiness of the home, however, was the only stability this mother had. In poor health and with almost no food to provide her children, Messenich waited for us in her dimly lit home, sitting politely with her hands folded and her eyes down-turned. As she spoke about her children and retold her story to the social workers,

Continue reading “From Desperation to a Joy-filled Life”

Shinshicho, Ethiopia–A place of healing

Brian Campbell, Creative Services Director

An excerpt from Brian’s Travel Diary while in Ethiopia.

Durame, Ethiopia—The washboard, gravel roads from the only hotel in Durame jostle our team along the way to the Holt Shinshicho Clinic. The clouds are beginning to break as the sun comes up and rain from the night before has created a shimmering lushness to the surrounding hillsides. All along this road can be seen people making their way to work. Bundles of firewood, donkeys carrying grain or coffee, women with containers of water share the road with us. To the side of the road, children can be seen in their well-worn school uniforms heading to classes. Other children remain behind, long switches in hand, tending to a couple of cows or a small flock of sheep and goats.

Continue reading “Shinshicho, Ethiopia–A place of healing”