March 27, 2009 07:39
Molly Holt, the head of Holt Children's Services, was awarded the Royal Order of Merit by the Norwegian King on Tuesday for her lifetime dedication to orphans and the disabled in Korea.
Receiving the award, the 74-year-old said, "I don't deserve such an award. This medal has been awarded not to me but to Holt Children's Services."
The third child of the founders of Holt Children's Services, Molly came to Korea in the fall of 1956 after the Korean War, right after she graduated from a nursing school in the U.S., at the request of her father.
At the age of 21, she began her life in a country in ruins, taking care of war orphans at a facility. Except for four years when she went back to the U.S. for study, she devoted a lifetime of service to Korea, remaining unmarried all her life. "When I meet those children again long after they were adopted, I can see the family love in their faces. It's really rewarding," she said.
Succeeding her parents as head of the organization in 2000, she lives with 300 disabled people at the Holt Ilsan Center in Gyeonggi Province. She is also responsible for cooking Western food for the children who will be adopted by foreign families, as well as educating them on Western lifestyle so that they can adapt to the new environment.
Holt hopes to build a communal center to help the disabled gain some independence and a clinic, and to expand support for multicultural families.
"In recent years, Koreans' perception of adoption has changed a lot, and an increasing number of families openly adopt a child. I'd like to see more support at the society level so that more people can adopt disabled children," she said.
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