By Regina Mburu, communications liaison for Unbound in Africa
True friendship goes beyond the miles between people — beyond their culture, their religion and the color of their skin.
“I have been in Kenya thrice,” said Toni Guidice, who is from New York and sponsors three children through Unbound. “Seeing my sponsored children brings warmth to my heart. Each time I see them my heart melts.
“I feel nothing but love when I look into their eyes.”
Of the three children Toni sponsors, two are siblings. She visited them on a recent awareness trip in Kenya hosted by Unbound.
“I love Toni so much,” said 19-year-old Christine, one of Toni’s sponsored children. “She is my second mother. Without her assistance I would never have had the opportunity to go to school and pursue my dreams.
“It is because of her big heart that I am educated and have a roof over my head.”
Thanks to Toni’s support, Christine graduated from high school and is headed to college to study information technology.
It is during awareness trips, especially, that one feels the personal connections of the Unbound sponsorship program. The meetings between the sponsors and their sponsored friends are characterized by hugs, tears and immeasurable joy.
The seeds sown by the sponsors in the lives of their sponsored friends make a huge difference. Just as a stone thrown in an ocean makes ripples, the help from sponsors has a ripple effect.
The impact of their support is not only felt by the sponsored friends, but the whole family as well.
“I did not know just how much difference my little contribution makes in the lives of the families,” Toni said. “I am deeply touched at how well they [the staff of Unbound] manage the money.
“It is amazing how a little contribution can transform lives.”
While seated on the bus headed to the communities of sponsored friends, Delina, a teenage sponsor from New York, emphatically waved at every little child she saw. The children’s faces brightened with smiles as they waved back, chanting “mzungu,” which means white person in Swahili.
“I feel so happy being here and seeing the families,” Delina said. “I love children so much, and being able to hug them and being around them brings me so much joy.”
Delina was the youngest sponsor in the group that visited Kenya on the awareness trip. Her big heart and warmth touched the hearts of those around her.
She is no ordinary teenager. Her love for the families, especially children, shone through in her eyes and in her smile.
Delina had a chance to meet Unbound’s late co-founder, Bob Hentzen, when he visited New York last fall.
“I was privileged to meet Bob just before his sudden death,” Delina said as she fought back tears. “He was such a good man, and his life is a big inspiration to me.
“When I was walking in the village today, children came running to me and they held my hand and walked with me. I felt the spirit of Bob with me at that time.
“The spirit of walking together in hope came alive.”
True friendship leaves a permanent imprint. Friendship is sharing.
Toni and Delina gave a new face to the word friendship on their visit to Kenya.
If we could all learn to accept and embrace each other, regardless the differences between us, the world would be a beautiful place.
Just like Bob said, “One family at a time,” through Unbound and the friendships fostered by it, the world is gradually becoming a better place for all.
Interested in going on an awareness trip? Check out our website for more information.