An image of a young man walking down a dirt road.
Jul 26 2017

Fighting a modern form of slavery

Your weekly reflection from Unbound

An image of a young man walking down a dirt road.
Every week we offer a prayerful reflection from a member of the Unbound community. This week our reflection was written by Outreach Volunteer Coordinator Clair Paul.

Consider what it would feel like to constantly worry about your child or spouse as they journey to and from work in the fields. Think about the anguish a family would experience if a child disappeared.

These are the realities that millions of families the world over face due to the threat of human trafficking. According to the International Labor Organization, there are an estimated 21 million victims of forced labor around the world. Almost a third of these are children, who, along with women, make up 71 percent of those trapped in this modern form of slavery.

Since 2010, the United Nations has been actively working to engage governments around the world in the fight against human trafficking. July 30 has been established as World Day against Trafficking in Persons, a time to focus on raising awareness of the crime and promote protecting the rights of those affected.

Unbound is working to protect the families in our program through education and awareness, and by fostering stronger local communities that make members less susceptible to outside exploitation. We are grateful to our sponsors who help provide the children they support with a safer, more secure future.

Click here to read more about human trafficking and what Unbound is doing to fight it.

Please Pray:

Lord, thank you for the blessings you provide that we are able to share with others. We pray we will one day live in a world where innocent people are not victimized by human trafficking. Give us the courage to stand up for those who cannot protect themselves, and be with those who live in fear of exploitation. We ask this in your name. Amen.

An image of Indian and Ugandan Unbound staff members.
Jul 24 2017

My observations from visiting Nairobi and Kampala

Indian coordinators' reflections from Africa, part 1

An image of Indian and Ugandan Unbound staff members.

Seema, center, takes a picture with her fellow Indian coordinators and staff members from Uganda.


Recently three of our program coordinators from India traveled to Kenya and Uganda to see how the Unbound program works in those countries. They had the opportunity to learn from their African coworkers and to experience what poverty looks like in Kenya and Uganda compared to India. This first reflection is from Seema Mohan Kumar, the program coordinator for our Chennai office in India.

“It is not sufficient simply to have an experience in order to learn. Without reflecting upon this experience, it may quickly be forgotten, or its learning potential lost. It is from the feelings and thoughts emerging from this reflection that generalisations or concepts can be generated. And it is generalisations that allow new situations to be tackled effectively.” — Graham Gibbs

I’ve taken a lot of positivity from this experience and a lot of learning too. Nairobi and Uganda was not what I had expected, and though we had to strictly take yellow fever shots, not all the places are filled with mosquitoes. The two African countries I’ve visited have been full of happiness. I have gained some life experience. Now I have changed more and I had to take the long road to re-examine my view of my community. Education in Kenya and Uganda was noticeably taken very seriously and it’s the key for their future.
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An image of upturned hands.
Jul 22 2017

The resilience of the Venezuelan people

A letter from our program coordinator in Venezuela

An image of upturned hands.
You may have seen news reports on the increasingly volatile situation in Venezuela over the past several months and wondered how Unbound is helping the families we serve there get through skyrocketing inflation, widespread food shortages and large-scale protests that have been occurring on a near daily basis for the past three months.

Eliezer J. Lobo R., Unbound’s general coordinator in Venezuela, recently wrote a letter addressed to those who sponsor children and elders in his country. He provided an update on how the situation there is affecting our sponsored members and their families, and how the families and our staff are innovating and adapting within the current reality. Because we know others also have concerns about the situation in Venezuela, we’re sharing the letter here as well.

As we see over and over, despite the challenges, the families we work with are full of hope. They envision a better future for their children and for themselves. Unbound is there to partner with these families as they work to achieve their dreams, and we’re there to support them through their struggles.

We ask that you keep these families, and all the people of Venezuela, in your thoughts and prayers.
Read Eliezer’s letter

Jul 19 2017

Casting our nets and opening our hearts

Your weekly reflection from Unbound

An image of a boat on a shore.
Every week we offer a prayerful reflection from a member of the Unbound community. This week’s reflection was written by writer/editor Maureen Lunn.

In May I had the opportunity to travel to Colombia on an awareness trip with a group of Unbound sponsors. One of them was Joseph Rivard, a retired psychology professor who signed up for the trip less than a year after beginning to sponsor a youth through Unbound.

Joseph wrote a reflection about his experience on the trip, and we posted it on the Unbound blog last week. He wrote about the time Jesus asked Simon to cast his nets in the deep, even though Simon had gone all night without catching any fish. When Simon did what Christ asked of him, he pulled in a catch so massive that it nearly sunk the boat. Joseph wrote:

“To [our] natural and human concerns, we need only witness what happened when Simon let go into the deep. His nets became full, and his heart was overwhelmed.”

Joseph’s reflection got me thinking about my own life and where I withhold my “nets.” Where am I holding on too tightly to my own expectations and attachments? Where am I missing out on opportunities to give to others, whether financially, with time or words of encouragement?

I think of Joseph and the other sponsors I traveled with in Colombia; all of them were my elders. They let go of their comforts of life at home and traveled to a foreign place with a group of strangers. What a way to cast your net, and what a way to be blessed in return!

I also think of the Unbound families we met in Colombia, for whom being sponsored is, at first, unfamiliar, yet they cast their nets deep and wide in community and opportunity.

Among my greatest inspirations from the trip to Colombia were my co-travelers and the families served by Unbound. They taught me a lot about what it means to let go, take a risk and let your heart be overwhelmed.

Read Joseph’s reflection, “Cast your net.”

Please pray

Lord Jesus Christ, you empower us to let go of our attachments in mind and body and open our lives to your blessings. Illumine the areas of our lives where we should cast our nets. From sponsored friends to our own family members to strangers we meet, put people in our path that teach us what it means to open our hearts and minds to receive your love. Amen.

An image of a girl in traditional Guatemalan clothing riding a bike.
Jul 17 2017

This is what makes Unbound different

An image of a girl in traditional Guatemalan clothing riding a bike.

Sponsored child Merlyn, 12, enjoys riding her bike in the streets around her home in Guatemala. Merlyn’s parents, like others in the Unbound program, have a voice in choosing the benefits that best serve their family’s needs.


The stories in our recent issue of Living Unbound are about the innovative ways that your sponsorship helps people around the world, delivering personalized benefits that give families the means to lift themselves out of poverty.

What you may not see is how exceptional these solutions are. Unbound is leading the way toward a new kind of service. The programs that you support look first to the wisdom and the creativity of the people we all serve. Conditional cash transfers help families take charge of their own lives. Parent groups provide opportunities for members to take microloans to start businesses and change whole communities.

And these methods work. Contrary to the myth that giving people money makes them lazy, research around the world shows that conditional cash transfers like the ones Unbound employs have positive long-term impacts. Children stay in school longer, their overall educational and health outcomes improve and they grow up to get better jobs.

Together, you and the rest of the Unbound community of sponsors provide opportunity.
Keep reading

An image of a nearly empty room in an apartment in Medellin.
Jul 15 2017

The cold of loneliness

Unbound staff member reflects on moving from El Salvador to Colombia

An image of a nearly empty room in an apartment in Medellin.

A room in Henry’s apartment in Medellin on one of his first nights there.


By Henry Flores, communications liaisons director

My family and I moved to Colombia, South America, from El Salvador about one year ago. We wanted to give our children a new international education experience and Unbound had an open position for a communications liaison in the country. It was a great opportunity for Unbound, my family and me.

I decided to come in advance of my family to make a path, find a place to live, get life organized, etc. While moving within one’s own country isn’t easy, it still allows for the same social, economic and cultural structure. Moving to another country is a completely different scenario.

When I moved to California, U.S.A., back in 1989, I arrived in a Salvadoran community. I had my relatives, Salvadoran restaurants, food, markets and traditions that were familiar to me. I felt part of my own culture and idiosyncrasy; I had a network. Here in Colombia, I’ve only met one Salvadoran in my new city of Medellin.

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An image of a brother and sister giving each other a hug.
Jul 12 2017

In search of empathy

Your weekly reflection from Unbound

An image of a brother and sister giving each other a hug.
Every week we offer a prayerful reflection from a member of the Unbound community. This week’s reflection was written by writer/editor Jordan Kimbrell.

As a child, I remember being able to tell when an adult was upset. I didn’t always understand why, but I could tell there was something going on. My solution? To go up to the adults and tell them they looked like they needed a hug — and then give them one. I figured that if getting a hug made me feel better, it would probably make others feel better too.
Read more

An image of a sponsor on an awareness trip in Colombia.
Jul 10 2017

Our 2018 Awareness Trip schedule is here

Pick one of the 14 countries we're traveling to in 2018 and come along!

An image of a sponsor on an awareness trip in Colombia.

John Harney from Arizona visits with his sponsored friends Juan and Karen on an awareness trip to Colombia in May 2017.

An Unbound Awareness Trip is the ultimate opportunity to see the work of Unbound firsthand. Whether you travel to meet your sponsored friend or simply experience the beauty of another culture, your experience on an awareness trip will be like no other.

We’ll be your guides all along the way on this affordable and exceptional experience. Sponsors and non-sponsors alike are invited to travel to any of the 14 countries we’re journeying to in 2018, or check out a trip later this year — there’s still time to sign up!

Learn more

An image of a sponsor and his sponsored friend in Colombia.
Jul 8 2017

Cast your net

A sponsor reflects on his trip to Colombia

An image of a sponsor and his sponsored friend in Colombia.

Sponsor Joseph Rivard (right) visits with his sponsored friend, 17-year-old Jan Sebastian, at Jan’s home in Colombia.


Unbound sponsor Joseph Rivard of Gulfport, Mississippi traveled to Colombia in May on an Unbound Awareness Trip. He joined Unbound as a sponsor less than a year before the trip, and sponsors three young men in Latin America. Joseph is a retired professor of psychology at Central Michigan University. He reflects on how the trip impacted his faith.

Like most Americans and others living in a “first-world” country, life is never perfect. Every Christian I know has a story to tell; stories that speak of the death of a loved one, sickness, stress in a career, family trouble, etc. Each of us, armed with faith, endeavor to overcome our own struggles. We journey through our lives doing the best we can to work through our own deficiencies while trying to understand and serve God in the midst of our confusing and sometimes tumultuous life journey.

When I left for Colombia in May, I knew this trip would be different from other mission-style trips I have made in the past. I knew it would be different, simply because God is always about things “now” and “new.” There were a lot of things in my life journey that could have justified not going on this trip, because life is that way — always filled with challenges and obstacles. Yet, whenever I quieted my worries, I was convinced in my heart that this trip was something God was calling me to do. He didn’t command me to go; God has never arbitrarily demanded things of me in that way. It was more of a gentle stirring and a pull on my heart that communicated invitation and opportunity.
Keep reading

An image of a young Guatemalan man with his sheep.
Jul 5 2017

Freedoms big and small

Your weekly reflection from Unbound

An image of a young Guatemalan man with his sheep.

Every week we offer a prayerful reflection from a member of the Unbound community. This week’s reflection was written by writer/editor Maureen Lunn.

I’ll never forget the first time I drove a car by myself. It was summer, I was 15 with a learner’s permit, driving in my grandpa’s hunter green Ford Ranger. My parents let me take the 15-minute drive down the highway to go to youth group at church, and then straight home. I still remember how amazing, how grown up, that felt! For a young person in America, that inaugural drive may be one of the greatest feelings of independence many of us will experience.

For people around the world, an opportunity for this type of independence also holds a lot of power, both personally and economically. For Ronaldo, a young man in Guatemala, the freedom to make choices for his future led to improving the economic situation of his entire family. One of his earliest memories of being in Unbound is of saving his sponsorship benefits to buy livestock.

Keep reading

Every week we offer a prayerful reflection from a member of the Unbound community. This week’s reflection was written by writer/editor Maureen Lunn. I’ll never forget the first time I drove a car by myself. It was summer, I was 15 with a learner’s permit, driving in my grandpa’s hunter green Ford Ranger. My parents let me take the 15-minute […]

Around the world with Unbound