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Nov 12 2014

Putting Gandhi’s wisdom into action

Martin Kraus

Martin Kraus (second from right), director of finance for Unbound, with his family

By Martin Kraus, director of finance for Unbound

“You must become the change you want to see.”

As I walked through the Mumbai airport in India, I couldn’t help but notice this quote on a huge banner hanging overhead. Most of us, whether from India or not, easily recognize this quote as being from Mahatma Gandhi, one of India’s most influential and respected leaders. What struck me are the many ways in which I am privileged to see Gandhi’s quote being put into action all over the world.

At Unbound, our sponsors take this quote to heart by taking action. Their sponsorship allows them to “become the change” that this world so badly needs, and in doing so, they make significant changes in the worlds of others. Recently, while performing an audit of Unbound’s office in Manila, Philippines, I met two beautiful examples.

Meet Lilia.

Lilia is an 81-year-old woman who lives in Metro Manila. As part of Unbound’s normal audit procedures, I visited Lilia to discuss the sponsorship benefits she receives. Lilia was able to tell me and show me many things she has received because of the generosity of her Unbound sponsor, who lives in California. She told me of medications, food staples and clothing. But her eyes really sparkled when she described her new walker.

Just a few months ago, Lilia’s left leg had to be amputated just above the knee. Even within her own home, she could only crawl on the floor to get from room to room after the operation. Through their normal and ongoing exchange of letters, Lilia’s sponsor knew about her situation and sent money for the purchase of a walker. She now uses it with confidence and a huge smile.

When Lilia showed me the walker itself, it didn’t seem like such a big deal to me. It was a basic metal walker, albeit obviously new and shiny. My own mother has one. But to Lilia, it was truly a special gift because she was unable to afford it on her own.

As she showed it to me, Lilia insisted on giving me a demonstration of how it works. While watching her walk across the room, I thought nothing could surpass the sense of pride she obviously felt. But I was wrong.

A few minutes later, Lilia instructed her grandson to fetch her collection of letters. This was her true treasure. From a drawer in the kitchen, her grandson brought forth a plastic bag containing many letters that Lilia has received from her sponsor over the years. Looking at the postmarks, I could see that some letters dated back to at least 2007.

As much as Lilia loved the practical and needed gift of her walker, she clearly treasured the letters even more. Lilia’s sponsor from California became the change. The two have never met, but they have changed each other’s worlds.

I believe Gandhi would be proud.

Meet Jay Marie.

Like Lilia, Jay Marie is a success story, but in a different way. At 21 years old, Jay Marie recently graduated from school and also from Unbound’s sponsorship program. She received a degree in accounting and is now preparing for her country’s CPA exams.

While meeting with Jay Marie in her Manila home, it was clear that she is a confident, well-spoken, smart young woman. I was pleased that Jay Marie was able to clearly tell me the ways that her sponsorship benefits have made it possible to finish school. But once again, I was especially struck by the way she spoke of her sponsor.

In her excitement, Jay Marie ran to a back room of her home and returned with two small photo albums that she had assembled from photos her sponsor had sent over the years. Jay Marie knew the story behind each photo. Several of the photos showed the sponsor with family members or friends doing fun things such as a picnic or family reunion. Jay Marie recited all the details to me from memory as if she had shared it with her own family and friends many times before, (which, I think, she probably has).

Jay Marie’s world and her future have been changed forever because of the $30 a month provided by her sponsor and the letters and photos sent. Jay Marie was able to meet her sponsor a few years ago on an Unbound awareness trip. One of the photos showed the two of them together on the day they met. This was Jay Marie’s favorite. Jay Marie’s sponsor truly “became the change” that our world needs.

Hearing these stories and meeting Lilia and Jay Marie was a special experience for me. And I know these are but two stories of many. But we need more. Our world needs more people to “become the change.”

Become the change. Sponsor today.

3 thoughts on “Putting Gandhi’s wisdom into action”

  1. Martin thank you for sharing about these two beautiful relationships, and for giving us a window into your work.

    A big hug from afar,

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