Victoria had the opportunity to travel to El Salvador in June for Unbound’s first blogger trip. She was overwhelmingly inspired by the sponsored friends and families she met. Here’s one of her stories.
By Victoria Brown, social media coordinator for Unbound
I had the opportunity to travel to El Salvador in June for Unbound’s first blogger trip. I was overwhelmingly inspired by the sponsored friends and families I met. Here’s one of their stories.
One of the happiest experiences for young girls in Central America almost turned into the opposite for Esperanza from El Salvador.
Esperanza is like most teenage girls. She likes to spend time with friends, play sports, dance and listen to music. And she absolutely loves to read. She wants to become a literature teacher one day.
She lives in a humble, rented home with her dad, mom, older brother, baby sister and grandma.
As I was getting to know Esperanza and her family, I asked Esperanza if she had a story she’d like to share with me. She paused for a second and then tears rolled down her cheeks. I gulped. I couldn’t understand what she was saying in Spanish, but I knew at that moment something had upset her.
I listened to her speak and waited for the interpreter to tell me why Esperanza was crying.
Two years ago, at the age of 14, Esperanza dreamed of having a quinceañera. In Latin American cultures a quinceañera, or quince for short, is the day when a girl celebrates her transition from a child to a young woman. The celebration happens around her 15th birthday.
The young lady’s presentation to society can have a powerful effect. Celebrating the quinceañera traditionally involves a Mass or religious ceremony, a reception and a choreographed dance, usually a waltz.
Esperanza’s family did not have the money to give her a quinceañera. Her parents were already struggling to provide for their family.
But Esperanza said she was determined and told her mom she wanted to start working to pay for her own celebration. Her mom said no.
Esperanza was devastated. Her dream was crushed. Well … almost.
Esperanza’s dad, Salvador, felt awful that he couldn’t provide his daughter with this memorable experience. Before Esperanza’s 15th birthday, Salvador was able to find enough work to bring in a little more money than usual. Salvador told Esperanza she could have the quince. But Esperanza said no and to forget about it.
Salvador knew how much the celebration meant to his daughter and was willing to make the sacrifice. Despite Esperanza saying no, Salvador ended up putting a little bit of money aside for the quince.
So lo and behold, her quince was celebrated with family and friends. She had a ceremony and afterward danced with friends on an outdoor basketball court decorated for the occasion.
It wasn’t elaborate, but it was the meaning of the quince that mattered most. It was one of the happiest times for Esperanza, and it showed how much Salvador loves his kids and was willing to do for them.
After Esperanza finished sharing her story, she excitedly showed me her quince photos in a bright pink album. A smile replaced the tears.
She said she loves her dad very much and appreciates what he did for her. When I asked her what’s most important to her, she said family, studies, her life and the help she’s getting from Unbound.
The help she’s getting refers to the support from her sponsors through Unbound — Terry and Gloria Bockenstedt. Esperanza’s mom said life was really hard before Unbound. In addition to the financial benefits, Esperanza receives encouraging letters and photos from Terry and Gloria. She proudly displays a photo of her sponsors and their family alongside a photo from her quinceañera in a picture frame.
Esperanza said life has taught her to take care of herself and help others. Her story has reminded me to love always and help others, too.
Help make someone’s dream come true. Sponsor today!