Erika grew up in a rural part of El Salvador, where the majority of jobs come from farming. Erika’s father, Daniel, relied on farming to support his wife and six children. Unfortunately, the income was not steady.
As a young girl, Erika attended a school where many of her classmates were sponsored through Unbound. As the second oldest, she saw how much her parents struggled to meet her education expenses and those of her siblings. Erika knew sponsorship would help her family financially. But she got so much more out of it than that.
“I used to watch all the other children get very excited because they were sponsored, they said ‘I’m sponsored, I’m sponsored,'” Erika shared.
When she was 13, a group of Unbound sponsors visited Erika’s school to see where their own sponsored children learned. A young woman named Misty was also on the trip, though it wasn’t until she met Erika that she decided to become a sponsor.
“When I received the news that I was sponsored,” Erika said, “I felt so happy because I was part of [Unbound] and that someone chose me to be her sponsored child. When I remember that day, I still feel excited. It makes you feel special.”
Now 24, Erika is getting ready to finish her college degree in English, a goal she wasn’t always sure she would achieve. Higher education is expensive, and even with support from sponsorship her family wasn’t always able to meet their needs.
“There was extra sacrifice for my parents and even for my siblings,” Erika said. “Sometimes they didn’t have a complete meal to support me. Having those kinds of limitations is difficult.”
In El Salvador, having only a high school diploma means fewer opportunities and a decreased chance of finding a job. Erika knew that to help her family in the future, she would need to get a college degree.
“For a family that lives in a rural area and with low income, it seems like you can’t achieve [your goals],” Erika said. “Sometimes you have to make the decision and understand that, even if you don’t have the basic things or clothes or a good pair of shoes, you need to try it anyway. You have to trust and believe that God is going to provide.”
When Erika first started at the University of El Salvador, things were even tighter for her family. Already an active participant in the Unbound program because of her sponsorship, Erika decided to apply for an Unbound scholarship, which are funded by donations to Education.
Because of her hard work, leadership skills and dedication to serving others, Erika was granted the scholarship. It helps pay for the cost of transportation to and from campus, which is a couple of hours each way, books and other materials needed to complete her education.
As part of the service hours required of all scholarship recipients, Erika is teaching English in the same school where she first met her sponsor. Not only is it good experience for her goal of becoming a professional English teacher, but she says it has also helped her grow personally.
“The beauty of [Unbound] is not just about receiving money,” Erika said, “but they also have an interest in your personal growth and self-esteem.
“I want to say thank you to the sponsors and Education donors for their support of young people, like me, that have a desire to move forward.”
Help support Education and give hope to students like Erika.