Families facing poverty don’t have the luxury of programmable thermostats, indoor heating and winterized vehicles. So how do our sponsored friends and their families weather the wintertime? It turns out they use many creative, low-cost ways to work on staying warm. Here are just a few:
1) Chicken soup and other comfort foods (Mexico, India, Bolivia)
Nohelia, who likes to be called “Noe,” is a sponsored child in Mexico. She found a perk to cold weather — her mom is an excellent cook!
“I like the cold season because my mother makes hot drinks, hot cakes and chicken soup,” she said.
Mothers in India use foods rich in natural fats — such as eggs, milk, nuts, ghee (liquid butter) and vegetables cooked in sunflower oil — to help keep their families healthy and warm.
2) Homemade clothing (Bolivia)
As Bolivia is in the Southern Hemisphere, its winter months are June, July and August. The temperature can drop to as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit.
So how do families living in poverty stay warm? A community gathers to make clothing from sheep and llama wool: hats, blankets, sweaters and leg warmers.
The men are proud to take part!
“All the dads make our own vests,” said one father of a sponsored child. “We like to make them with different colors and designs. The children help us make hats, leg warmers and scarves. We all help each other make them.”
3) Warm oil massages (India)
Women in northern India like Premwati (whose daughter, Bharati, is sponsored) have an ingenious method for tending to their babies during cooler months.
It’s an affectionate way to warm them and show them they’re loved and cared for, all without words.
4) Housing insulation materials (Guatemala, Bolivia and Peru)
Sponsored friends and their families are incredibly creative at turning everyday materials into valuable housing resources.
In Guatemala, for example, straw and corn stalks double as insulation material during winter, as well as bricks made from adobe.
Bolivians use mud mixed with hay to seal doors and windows. Plastic sacks filled with fabric are placed on roofs to help keep out the cold.
In Peru, families use cardboard, canvas tarps and plastic trash bags to cover the walls and floors of their homes. Floors typically consist of sand, which gets damp and muddy during winter rains.
5) Sponsorship benefits
When you sponsor a child or elder through Unbound, you’re contributing in a very real way to their warmth, safety and comfort during winter.
As part of their sponsorship benefits, families have the option to choose helpful supplies such as blankets, shawls and nutritional supplements – tailored for every community, from a protein drink mix in India to milk for warm drinks in Peru.
Next time you think of your sponsored friend, remember that you’ve helped warm their hearts this winter, literally and figuratively!
Our communications liaison for Unbound in India and Guatemala and our correspondents in Mexico, Bolivia and Peru contributed information to this report.