Day 4: Living with strength and grace

Unbound blogger trip

Ana Teresa and her family in El Salvador.

By Kristin Littrell, freelance writer

As I reflect over the last few days traveling in El Salvador for the Unbound blogger trip, one thing continuously comes to mind: the strength of mothers.

We have met so many deeply inspiring women on this trip. Mothers who work hard for one reason: a brighter future for their children.

One of those mothers is Ana Teresa, who has two children sponsored through Unbound. I visited her on our first full day in El Salvador. The rain was coming down hard that morning, reverberating off the tin roof. I got ready, put on my rain jacket and we hit the road.

It wasn’t long before we arrived in Ana Teresa’s neighborhood, where the homes are made of corrugated sheet metal and are perched along abandoned railroad tracks.

The rain was coming down in sheets as we unloaded the van and climbed down a slippery, muddy hill. A teenage girl from the neighborhood guided us around muddy puddles and led us to Ana Teresa’s home.


As we came around the corner, Ana Teresa was waiting for us at the door. She was beaming and waving. “I didn’t think you would come because of the rain,” she said.

We went inside and our eyes adjusted to the dark room as we sat down in blue plastic chairs surrounded by three beds and a dresser. This room was the family’s living and sleeping quarters. The home has a small kitchen and another room her married son shares with his pregnant wife.

We sat and talked about her kids, school, sports and her dreams for her family.
Ana Teresa is a single mom of four kids — her husband died in a traffic accident six years ago. Her two youngest, Ana Zuleyma,15, and Melvin,12, are sponsored through Unbound.

She told me she found out her children were sponsored right after her husband passed away.

“When I most needed Unbound, they were here for me,” she said.

Her daughter, Ana, told me how Unbound helps them afford things her mom wouldn’t be able to on her own. The sponsorship helps them with shoes and sports uniforms, school supplies and fun outings to the water park.

Ana Teresa’s life is challenging, but she lives it with strength and grace.

She rises at 5 a.m. to collect firewood for her stove and cook breakfast for her children before they leave for school. Afterward, she heads off to her job doing laundry and ironing for other families. She makes $5 a day, and works six days a week. She comes home around 5 p.m. and immediately starts a cooking fire so she can prepare a meal for her family. Later, she’ll sweep the dirt floor of her home and do laundry in a plastic bucket.

Despite their challenges, this is what Ana Teresa tells her children:

“Let’s work hard. With the help of God, and your sponsors, we can do this. We can get through this. Let’s keep going and get ahead.”

And that’s exactly what Ana Teresa does.

Ana Teresa understands the value of hard work and long-term planning. She recently saved a portion of her child’s sponsorship benefits to purchase a set of plastic drawers for her kids’ clothes.

Unbound blogger trip

Ana Teresa and her daughter Ana stand next to a plastic dresser purchased with sponsorship benefits.

Now, she’s saving for sheet metal to improve their home and a washboard to do laundry.
After talking with Ana Teresa, and other mothers of sponsored children in El Salvador, I realized everything they do is for their children. They save their money to buy things that directly benefit their kids. Their dreams for the future always revolve around their children.

I was so moved by Ana Teresa’s love for her children, and their love for her, that I asked her if she had any parenting advice to share. This is what she said:

“Listen to your children. Talk as a family and dedicate time to each one of them. So whenever they have a problem, they’ll know who to go to.”

To help a family like Ana Teresa’s, sponsor a child today. It’ll change their world, and yours.

Related links:
Unbound blogger trip 2014

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