Sep 3 2014

We need to be standing on the brink with these families

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by Cara VanNice, communications director for Unbound

Our recent coverage of the violence in Kenya, the plight of girls in India and the Central American children at the U.S. border highlight a common thread that runs throughout the communities where Unbound works – urgency. We are where we are because we are needed there. Help is needed there.

The families Unbound partners with are working against poverty, struggling to meet their daily needs in the face of tremendous odds. And, with a little support from Unbound and our generous sponsors, our families succeed.

Sponsorship offers families enough stable ground to work from to enable them to focus more on the future instead of just their next meal. Over time, many build businesses to support their families on this stable ground. And they’re able to keep their children in school, thus ensuring the next generation is equipped with the tools to succeed despite living in regions that are generations-deep in poverty and oppression.

Struggling against poverty is challenging on its own. But when people also face the daily threat of organized crime, violence, corruption or discrimination, their fight, and our fight to help them, becomes unimaginably difficult. And it is a fight.

Traveling with us, sponsors see firsthand the lives of people in the communities Unbound serves and the elements they struggle against. Many are inspired to sponsor another child, young adult or elder.

After meeting some Unbound staff and families in Central America, I won’t say that I was, at first, inspired. That came later. At first, I was angry. Angry at the living conditions I saw, the stories of violence and intimidation I heard, and the lack of opportunities families have to escape these realities. And I continue to struggle with that anger. Now more than ever, I see it as a fight, against incredible forces, for one person, one family, at a time.

At first, I saw sponsorship as a chance to offer a little assistance to a child and her family. It has become my way of saying: “You’re going to have to fight me for this one. This child is amazing and deserves a good life. And I will not just let her violent, unhealthy, precarious environment swallow her up.”

In our communications with you, we like to tell the beautiful stories we receive from our teams in the field. Stories of triumph, hope and celebration. Our publications, like this blog, are platforms to showcase the magnificent beauty of the families we partner with and the communities where they live. It is our way of honoring the work of our families and staff. But we never want to lose sight of the urgency behind what we are doing.

Many of our families aren’t just living on the margins – they’re living on the brink. They’re in constant danger. They work all day, every day, just so their children can eat. Their children fight to stay in school, struggling against the gnawing urge to drop out in order to help support their families in some way. If they drop out, they may continue this cycle of poverty with their own children.

That crossroads is exactly where Unbound and our sponsors need to be. We need to be standing on the brink with these families and their children, helping to pull them back from disaster and chaos. The support you provide will help. Of that you can be sure.

As we continue to wrestle with the news abroad, we can be angry. But we cannot be idle. Anyone, anywhere can help. Start with one child.

26 thoughts on “We need to be standing on the brink with these families”

  1. Good, take care of them in their own nations and help them build themselves up there.
    We, in the USA, already have enough third world nation transplants to last for another 100 years. Almost 1 in 6 who live in America were born somewhere else. That is far too many.
    Keep up the good work of making them learn how to live life in their own nations.

  2. In many of these poor countries, surely one answer which doesn’t cost much is for men to have compulsory vasectomies after their partner has had 2 children. Face it, in remote communities there isn’t much else for them to do except have sex, and the poor women have more children than they can feed properly. A small financial incentive for the men to do this would surely bring them in. Using carrot and stick approach. If they don’t agree, there will be no more financial aid forthcoming.

  3. no one gets to choose where they are born. Be happy if you were born here in the United States because no matter how poor you may think you are you have every opportunity set in front of you to make your life better. If you are poor in the United States it’s because you choose to be. There is always work and not to mention how much money the state hands out to people who just want to be lazy and keep having kids. There are so many children who are born into a world that have nothing and know nothing but struggle and have absolutely no way out. So be Thankful every day that your kids get to climb into a warm bed with their tummys full .

  4. Send these women contraceptives. They do not want the children or give them free sterisilation. No money.
    Where do the millions go the Government gives world vision. No doubt plenty of overseas holidays for those in charge of the charities and free credit cards for them.

  5. We can’t help everyone in the world but we can help who we want to help. It is sometimes due to life experiences that makes us choose who we want to help. An example, the reformed drug addicts would want to help those who are lost……etc.

    No one should tell anyone who they should help. It is a passion you will find closest to your heart. And when you find your purpose….you do something about it. You can’t be everywhere in the world and save the world. There is poverty in every corner of the world and one can only hope that help will show up at our doorstep one day.

    If anyone know of Scott Neeson …..he is a Scottish-Australian who was a film executive in the USA … him! He left America and his rich high life….to live in one of the most unthinkable of conditions in Cambodia….but it was his calling. Most of all….it was his money he’s spending to help those people in that part of the world. So please…help when you can, in any which way you can! It doesn’t have to be monetary. We can all do volunteer work to help, not just the needy or the poor….

    One thing one should stop doing ….is shooting the people who choose to help somewhere and not in your neighbourhood, in the leg for taking the money elsewhere. Like I said, do your bit and don’t tell me who or where to give my money or what charitable organisation I should give to. It is my money and I decide what my heart tells me. You can hope and pray that there will be help coming your way too…..OR….you can start something and do your bit in this world.
    I came from poverty and when you feel the pain of hunger…… believe me when I say this…..I didn’t pray for food. I prayed to just die!

  6. As an Australian I hope we never become so patriotic and inward looking as some of you. We live in a big world and we can help those at home and those overseas. We are one family. Yes help the homeless etc. at home but oh my word, if you travel you will see the options for the poor and it’s heartbreaking. Get a life all children not just ours, deserve hope.

  7. or taxes is or taxes not no illegals stay in your own country your not Americas problem .we need to take care of our own .not someone else country .stay home don’t come to America were all sick of other country not taking care of there own people .not Americas problems.

  8. these people are no Americas problem .we have hungry and poverty here in America we need to be taking care of our own ,another country is no my or Americas problem.

  9. l’ll start by saying that I understand the need, both here and abroad. For 12 years I worked as Men’s Shelter Supervisor at a rescue mission, and I have personally bought meals for homeless people that I met (never give a homeless person money, because way too often it is used for alcohol or other drugs.)

    OK, now that you now that I’m not completely uncaring, I have some real problems with the way some of these charities advertise on television, and our approach to poverty, hunger and homelessness in general.

    I’m not sure about this particular organization, but I have a lot of questions about some of the advertisments that I see on TV. Two examples:

    1. A commercial for Jewish relief shows Jews standing in a long line to get the basic staples for Jewish Festival dinners, and talks about how many needy people there are in Israel. I was very surprised, since I had just read a detailed article about how Israel was one of the most dynamic economies in the world, with the number of patents and inventions per capita almost equal to that of the United States. So which is true, is Israel a poor country or a rich one? I was getting too VERY different pictures.

    2. A man puts his arm around a sad-looking young girl about the same age as the boy in the picture. The guy says something to the effect that if she doesn’t get sponsored, she won’t eat tonight.

    Really? Either they are lying, or they found this girl on the street, used her in a commerical and didn’t even see that she ate that night.

    I found the commercial upsetting, dishonest, manipulative and deplorable. I wish I could remember the name of the organization, but I know that they will never get a dime from me.

    One more thing to be aware of. Our approach toward homelessness and hunger in the US is all wrong. We trot out slogans like, “We won’t stop until no one is homeless.” Well, good luck with that. The truth is that no one in the United States has to starve, and many are homeless by choice.

    Most cities have rescue missions, food pantries, soup kitchens, and other resources, where people can get a meal, and sometimes a bed as well.

    Every community, no matter how small, has a church. Some churches offer help that comes in many forms, from food to help finding a job. I don’t know any church that would turn away someone who said they were hungry.

    In my church, we will give food to anyone who asks. If they come back repeatedly, there are church members assigned to see if they need help in other areas, for example, money management and budgeting advice, someone to fix a car so they can get to work, or winter clothes (I live in Michigan.)
    When I worked at a rescue mission, there were people that stayed in a vacant house across the street in below-freezing temperatures. They didn’t want to stay in the mission, where they could get three meals during the day and a warm bed at night.

    The reason? Because the mission had a few basic rules such a no alcohol policy, and showing up on time for supper if they wanted to sign up to spend the night. Many who are homeless don’t want anyone to tell them what to do, and they would rather be homeless in he winter than follow rules.

    The mission has those rules for a reason. As the saying goes, we didn’t just give people fish, we taught them how to fish. And there is nothing more important to making a living than learning to be on time for an appointment or job.

    I guess the moral of this story is in the United state elp is out there if you’re willing to look for it and follow a few basic rules. If you don’t know how to find help, talk to any shelter, mission, soup kitchen, church or other social service organization. They talk to each other, and can point you in the right direction for whatever kind of help you, or someone you know, might need.

  10. I have read so many articles were it shows that only 10% of charity goes to the actual people it was mend for. Operation costs takes at least 50% and who knows were the rest goes. If I can be assured that 100% of my money will go to those in need, I would have no problem giving. But as it is, only 10 cents on the dollar goes to the needy. That is NOT acceptable!

    1. Thank you for your comment, Crystle. Researching whether an organization shows responsible financial stewardship is important. I’m proud to say that 93.5 percent of Unbound’s expenses go toward program support. That’s one of the highest percentages in the industry. To learn more about how we make sure donations go as far as they can to help those in need, or to see how independent charity watchdog groups rate Unbound, please visit Thank you!

  11. When I see and hear about this kind of stuff, it makes me feel so bad. I know that it is not my fault but I would really like to help those people. I know many people would. If only they could live like us and have what we have. We as Americans take way to much for granted. We should not. Many of the things that we take for granted, they dream about having. Like food, home, toys, money, and even family members. So please, let us not take any of these things for granted, but enjoy and give to those who are in need. Especially in this season. It is not the season of getting, but also giving and praising God. Think, Get, and Do. Do whatever you can to help these people in need.

  12. Medieval Knights took an oath to protect and defend the poor and the weak. That code of Chivalry evolved into belief that it is the obligation of the ‘haves’ to provide for the ‘have nots’… our basic belief in charity today. This shouldn’t be a discussion about whether we help people locally or around the world; nor should it be about if the person we help is a child, elderly, disabled, or otherwise. Let’s just help who we can, when we can, with what we can. Chivalry is NOT dead…

  13. I think each person decides who to help, and that Unbound is helping kids from other countries, works for them. There is a different poverty level in other countries. Here we might feel poor but have access to toilets and running water in city parks, might have SNAP or Medicaid, which keep one at a certain level of survival. In some countries, your child, or you, cannot sleep for the hunger pains, a young girl cannot dare use the toilet bc it is a hole outside and the fighters would rape her. Poverty is relative to each country’s definition. I hope there is very little Admin cost with Unbound, that is my main concern about these programs – what percentage of the money gets to those it is meant to help. Rhetorical question.

  14. The truth usually lies somewhere in the middle ground, not at one extreme or the other. hense, this is my point … it is important to help others in the world because we are all connected and we all deserve help and compassion, and its true that the poor in third world countries are much worse off than the poor here. However … I do feel that many humanitarian organizations focus on conditions “outside” and away from whats going on in the more needy neighborhoods right here at home, usually in other countries, while completely missing the fact that there are many different realities right here that people are living, where people are in great need as well, who can’t keep up with basic living expenses because of poor pay, lack of hours, lack of benefits, etc. and who can’t get a leg up, can’t affford to get a computer, can’t afford to pay for music or athletic support so their kids can attend and experience them, can’t afford camp, a vacation, a car, I could go on and on. I do think we need to do more for the underpriveledged here. America is a leading country, with the highest/widest income gap. Families at the bottom need more opportunites and more training to improve their lives, but unfortuanely most of the “need based” organizations are focused outside of the problems here. It seems its always easier to look outside oneself and identify problems with others than it is to look at our own, but thats exactly what we need to do. I’m an older single mother now, my daughter is now grown and going to college, accruing debt, but I struggled everyday and wished I was able to provide more opportunities for my daughter when she was younger. Life is a struggle and life is hard when you are alone in the world. People need to look around and do more for their neighbors, do more for those who can’t manage to do it all on their own. You CAN make a difference in the lives of others, but you need to get out there and connect with those who are less fortunate than yourself. Sponcer them, mentor them, get to know them and help them in any way that you can. Pay it forward by caring and reaching out to others

  15. I’m also tired of sending our HARD earned tax dollars etc to these countries where the government is the only one to benefit–there are many examples where our food and supplies are given to the government workers and personal staff NOT to those who actually need it-I read a story where a man came to America a year ago from Africa–he was starving and finally made his way to a city where he could gain transport here-he went back a year later–nothing had changed–the people that helped him were still there starving to death day by day–when he went to the airport to leave he saw an airplane on the runway being unloaded with pallets of bagged rice marked from the USA–he asked the men where the food was going and they told him all goes to the presidential palace–he thought they would laugh but none did–he cried on his way back to catch his flight–he saved most of his money and brought the people along his path to freedom as much food as he could carry–they all cried when he left–so please don’t preach to us about helping others when they don’t get the help we send–we need to take care of OUR homeless and stop acting like everyone in America is taken care of–they are not–open your eyes–these governments take our charity and use it for their own good-Why is the president of Mexico a Billionaire??? Why is there a Billionaire in Mexico worth over 72 Billion second only to Bill Gates while people are starving- killing each other and running for the borders???? Please don’t be naïve–Charity DOES begin at home.

  16. What is the answer when you cant feed your own children a healthy diet? When you are turned away from every source of help that is supposedly offered? When you cant get hired despite spending valuable resources for gas or electricity to have a phone and computer to search for work? When you struggle every day to find work sometimes ten hours a day. All of your comments are simple and ultimately meaningless. Many reflect no knowledge of real life in America today. Doing good works is important and I personally begrudge no one who does such works regardless of where. “Charity begins at home.”?????? Does it? You should try to see if you can find any. The solutions are not as simple from either side as you may suggest.

  17. I can not stand when people make remarks such as this. If they live in these extremely poor countries, they probably don’t have access to the necessary contraceptives! Also, I am sorry, but I was one of those children who grew up poor My mother and I where homeless more times than I can count, but do you know what we had? Soup kitchens, disability checks, kindness from strangers. Do you know what those poor children in third world countries get? Guns shoved in their hands, drugs taped to their bodies, bellies swelled up from starvation. So, please, tell me again how the children of the richest country in the world need more help then those children who can’t even go to school because they don’t have the proper shoes to walk the 5 MILES to their school house.

  18. You are right, Betty. My father was a foster child and lived in many different homes. NY state stop paying for foster care when he was sixteen. This was in the 1930s. He supported himself and his brother and finished high school. Did not have kids till he was married and had a decent/good paying job. Took sick for many years when I was four. Dad had to borrow but paid back every penny. People need to learn to be more sufficient.

    1. Your father is to be commended!
      Yes, people need to be more self-sufficient. I’ve often had to work two jobs during periods of my life when the going got tough, and my kids needed help.

  19. Here’s a thought. If you are that poverty stricken that you can barely take care of yourself, then DON’T HAVE CHILDREN or HAVE ONLY ONE! I broke the cycle by not having any and live well. It’s common sense.

  20. Thank you for your comment, Marie. There is, without question, great need in the U.S. and we commend the work of the many kindred organizations dedicated to helping address that need. The main focus of Unbound’s efforts happens to be in economically developing countries. But I believe we’re all in this together, and wherever the help is being offered, it benefits us all.

  21. PS. My kids speak English. They are respectful, they love the US and are pro American, and follow the law. They do not pick and choose which laws to obey. Get real people.

  22. We are hurting our own children by helping everyone else. I’m sick of it. We have people here in the US that can’t feed their kids, kids, that need and want things too. Charity starts at home, and it seems everyone hates to help Americans. I lost my house, my health care is gone I have a granddaughter that I can’t always help where are you

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