An image of a home in El Salvador.
Aug 19 2017

‘The families are the reason I continue’

Serving as a social worker in El Salvador's gang-afflicted cities

An image of a home in El Salvador.

A home in El Salvador, typical of the homes Marlene and other Unbound social workers visit on a regular basis.



To celebrate the U.N.-sponsored World Humanitarian Day Aug. 19, Unbound is highlighting inspiring members of our global community who’ve overcome obstacles to help others. Carmen is from El Salvador and works for Unbound as a social worker in 11 communities in Santa Ana, with more than 200 sponsored children and their families. She started with Unbound seven years ago, learning about the organization while working as a caretaker for a sponsored elderly woman. Carmen and her husband have a 16-year-old daughter.

In this interview, conducted by Naresli Calitto, former communications liaison, Carmen shares about her experience working for Unbound amidst the challenges of life in El Salvador.

Keep reading

An image of Unbound staff visiting a home in El Salvador.
Aug 16 2017

‘To bind up the brokenhearted’

Your weekly reflection from Unbound

An image of Unbound staff visiting a home in El Salvador.

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

The prophet Isaiah’s great anointment, revealed in Isaiah 61, was an announcement of glad tidings for those whose lives were, perhaps, not so joyous. Much like the words Jesus would later speak in the Beatitudes, Isaiah proclaimed good news, comfort and freedom for those in pain and struggle.

“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed me;
He has sent me to bring good news to the afflicted,
To bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
Release to the prisoners,
To announce a year of favor from the Lord
And a day of vindication by our God;
To comfort all who mourn …” (Isaiah 61: 1-2)

This week we celebrate World Humanitarian Day, honoring people who dedicate their lives to serving those who are afflicted, brokenhearted or held captive. Like Jesus and Isaiah, these compassionate people act out of a deep calling to help others live with dignity, respect and equality.

We see this passion in women like Carmen, an Unbound social worker who faces the gang-afflicted streets of El Salvador to serve sponsored children and their families. Carmen promotes the welfare of others through her spirit and presence, showing those in need that they are seen, known and loved amidst the daily struggles of life.

This is the work of a humanitarian, following in the footsteps of Christ. May we all find ways today and every day to help bind up the brokenhearted.

Look for Carmen’s story on the blog later this week.

Please pray

God of justice, anoint each of us as you did Isaiah, that we may respond to the call to comfort those who mourn. We ask for your protection and blessings on all humanitarians who face danger in their day-to-day service, and we pray for freedom and safety for those in trouble today. In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, amen.

An image of Sonia wearing her Family Defense group vest.
Aug 14 2017

‘No longer afraid’

Peruvian mom works to prevent domestic violence

An image of a family of women in Peru.

Sonia (center), with her daughters, Lady (left), Heydi (right) and baby Luna. Lady is sponsored by Mary in Indiana and Heydi is sponsored by Edward in Nebraska.

By Corbett McKinney, student intern

To celebrate the U.N.-sponsored World Humanitarian Day Aug. 19, Unbound is highlighting inspiring members of our global community who’ve overcome obstacles to help others. In Peru, a tenacious mother named Sonia helps others by participating in the local Family Defense group, organized through our program in Lima.

Living in a rocky, dusty city south of the capital, Sonia is the mother of three girls, two of whom are sponsored through Unbound. She’s fiercely proud and protective of her girls. Lady and Heydi are her older children, who are sponsored. Her youngest daughter, Luna, is an infant. Together with her husband, daughters and the family dog, Sonia transforms their modest home into a joyful space filled with noise and laughter.

Sonia’s life wasn’t always so happy.
Keep reading

Field report
Aug 12 2017

Serving families in Venezuela amidst crisis

Field report

As government security forces clash with protestors and inflation continues to rise, tension and economic instability in Venezuela are escalating rapidly.

The 3,500 families Unbound serves in Venezuela face the daily hardships of food scarcity, transportation interruptions and power outages.

Our program in Venezuela is based in Barquisimeto, a city of more than 800,000 residents located 225 miles west of the nation’s capital, Caracas. We serve sponsored members and their families there through the efforts of 26 local staff members. Keep reading

An image of a young Bolivian woman with a traditional instrument.
Aug 9 2017

Helping youth find their wings

Your weekly reflection from Unbound

An image of a young Bolivian woman with a traditional instrument.

Every week we offer a prayerful reflection from a member of the Unbound community. This week our reflection was written by Senior Writer Larry Livingston.

Our work with youth is a particular joy for the Unbound community. They often inspire us with their creativity and resilience in the face of deep poverty. Encouraged by their sponsors, and blessed with the gift of hope, they dare to dream of a better life for themselves and their families. They also remind us that energy and industry, when bolstered by the encouragement of a friend, is a powerful force.

The young people in the Unbound world, like youth everywhere, brim with creativity and the desire to share their gifts with the world. All they need from us is a launching pad. They’ll take flight on their own.

The United Nations has designated Aug. 12 as International Youth Day. Thanks to all who nurture the gifts of youth and, especially, to those who sponsor young people in the Unbound program.

Read a story about the musical gifts of young people.

Please pray

Loving God, you bless the human family with the energy and idealism of young people. May we listen to them, protect them and stand in awe of your presence within them. Let us learn from our youth as well as teach them, knowing that each generation holds graces all its own. We ask this in your holy name. Amen.

An image of a Guatemalan woman holding a microphone.
Aug 7 2017

Understanding one young Mayan woman’s experience

An interview with a former sponsored member

An image of a Guatemalan woman holding a microphone.

Former sponsored member Selica Piloy shares her experiences as an indigenous Guatemalan woman at an event at Unbound’s international headquarters in Kansas City.


The U.N. has designated Aug. 9 International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. According to Dictionary.com, indigenous means “originating in and characteristic of a particular region or country.” In simple terms, an indigenous person is one whose ancestry is based in the country and region in which they are born.

According to the U.N., there are an estimated 370 million indigenous people living in 90 countries across the world. With that kind of diversity, the experiences of one indigenous group might vary greatly from the experiences of another. There are some common experiences, however, such as maintaining strong connections to tradition and community, and facing the challenges of discrimination and lack of opportunity. How these experiences develop depend on the country, region and even sometimes the gender of an indigenous person.

At Unbound, we focus on the individual to understand their distinct needs and goals. To gain a better understanding of what it’s like growing up as an indigenous person, we interviewed Selica Piloy, a former sponsored member from Guatemala who’s attending college in the United States and just finished a summer internship at Unbound’s international headquarters in Kansas City. Selica, 21, is getting ready to start her sophomore year at Cottey College in southern Missouri, where she’s pursuing a degree in international studies.

Selica is part of the Kaqchikel Mayan community in Guatemala. She’s passionate, bright and articulate in describing her experience as an indigenous woman.
Keep reading

An image of Unbound employee Abby Melgren wearing a Trailblazer shirt.
Aug 5 2017

Mark your calendars!

Upcoming events in the Unbound community!

An image of Unbound employee Abby Melgren wearing a Trailblazer shirt.
Unbound’s Global Insight Series: Latin America

Join us at our Kansas City headquarters on September 13 for an evening of discovery with Unbound’s program coordinators from Bolivia, Guatemala and Honduras. They’ll share insights on our programs, with stories on the challenges families in their regions face and how sponsorship benefits are customized for each family.

Global Insight Series: Latin America
Wednesday, September 13, 2017 — 5:30-8 p.m., program begins at 6 p.m.
Unbound HQ — 1 Elmwood Ave., Kansas City, KS 66103

Visit unbound.org/insightseries to RSVP. The event is free, but space is limited.

Trailblazers at the Omaha Marathon

Unbound Trailblazers will be running and walking to raise awareness about Unbound at the Omaha Marathon, Half, 10K and 5K on September 17.

Interested in joining? The Omaha Marathon’s flat course and variety of distances provide a chance to challenge yourself as you step up and challenge poverty. You don’t need to be a competitive athlete to walk or run, you just need to possess a desire to change one life for good. You can even take part in a cheer section along the race route, if running or walking isn’t for you.
Visit our Trailblazer website or email outreach@unbound.org to join us in Omaha and learn more about getting involved as an Unbound Trailblazer.

Unbound Awareness Trips

In August and September, there will be a total of six awareness trips. Travelers will be visiting their sponsored friends in Honduras, Kenya, Uganda, Chile, Nicaragua and Guatemala. Please keep these travelers in your thoughts and prayers.
Interested in going on a future trip? Check out unbound.org/trips to learn more information and see all our trip dates for the next year.

An image of a little girl in Colombia and her sponsor.
Aug 2 2017

The fruits of an expanded worldview

Your weekly reflection from Unbound

An image of a little girl in Colombia and her sponsor.

Every week we offer a prayerful reflection from a member of the Unbound community. This week our reflection was written by Senior Writer Larry Livingston.

One of the graces of the Unbound program is the path it opens for sponsors and their sponsored friends to get to know one another. Through the exchange of letters and, for some, meeting in person on awareness trips, members of our community are blessed to learn the realities of others living in circumstances very different from their own.

This expanded worldview helps us understand our differences, but it also leads to a deeper awareness of all we have in common. It helps us realize that the things that separate us — like race, religion, language or culture — need not be obstacles if we see others with respect instead of apprehension.

Unbound was founded on the belief that all human beings share a common kinship as children of God, and that each of us is imbued with a sacred dignity. Our desire is to help people better appreciate that dignity — within others and within themselves. In so doing, we help the world grow closer to becoming what God created it to be.

An expanded worldview is one of the characteristics that distinguishes the Unbound program. Learn more.

Please pray

God of life, you desire that all your children live together in peace. Help us break down the walls of fear and mistrust that drive people apart, and build bridges of understanding that benefit all. In whatever we do, may love for our brothers and sisters guide us. We ask this in your holy name. Amen.

An image of Unbound Program Coodinator Vincent Murmu.
Jul 31 2017

Exchange Trip to Africa 2017

Indian coordinators' reflections from Africa, part 3


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 the realities of families in Kenya and Uganda compared to India. This final reflection is from Vincent Murmu, the program coordinator for our Dumka office in India.

It is indeed exciting to visit the Unbound family on another continent. I, along with Seema,the coordinator in Chennai, and Selvaraj, the coordinator in Bhagalpur, and under the able leadership of our project director Amanda Heter from Unbound Kansas, had the wonderful opportunity to visit two Unbound projects in East Africa – Nairobi, Kenya and Kampala,Uganda.

It is like a dream come true landing on another continent. My eyes were fully opened with curiosity and excitement.
Read more!

An image of Unbound staff taking notes.
Jul 29 2017

Key learning points

Indian coordinators' reflections from Africa, part 2

An image of Unbound staff taking notes.

Selvaraj takes notes as Nairobi program evaluation team presents on how they conduct program evaluations at their office.


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 second reflection is from Selvaraj P., the program coordinator for our Bhagalpur office in India.

Nairobi:

First of all, I congratulate the Nairobi Team for their cordial welcome and family spirit. The Nairobi team is composed of knowledge and experience, and they are excellent teachers and possess great communication skill. The love and excitement they bring to the program is a treat to watch and emulate. Team spirit, program focus, talent recognition, people centered policies and excellent leadership at the top level are some of the keys to their success. It is a team on the move with great attitude and commitment. Keep up the good work you do for the poor!
Read more!

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 second reflection is from Selvaraj P., the program coordinator for our Bhagalpur […]

Around the world with Unbound