Letter writing is an important aspect of Unbound’s sponsorship program. Not only do we require sponsored members to write at least two letters a year to their sponsors, we encourage sponsors to write back. We frequently hear from sponsored members how much getting letters from their sponsors means to them. Sometimes those letters have the ability to change lives.
But when sponsored friends are between sponsors, they don’t have anyone to write to or receive letters from. When sponsors must discontinue their support, their sponsored friends continue to participate in the program and receive assistance while Unbound tries to find new sponsors for them.
Currently, we have more than 5,000 children, youth and elders waiting for new sponsors. Some of them have only been waiting a couple of months, while others have been waiting a couple of years. They’re missing out on a huge part of the Unbound program experience.
That’s why Unbound is piloting a new initiative with our offices in Trichy, India, and Kampala, Uganda. The initiative gives visitors to the Unbound headquarters in Kansas City a chance to write notes of encouragement to sponsored members in India and Uganda who are waiting for new sponsors. Recently, some of our staff also had the opportunity to take the initiative to summer school students at a Kansas City middle school.
“What the sponsored members in our Unbound program are doing is not easy,” said Barclay Martin, a member of Unbound’s U.S. outreach team who’s helping pilot the new program. “They’re striving for a life with more opportunity, to be empowered to make their own choices and to move forward on their own terms in the face of deep challenges.”
The project gives young people in the U.S. opportunities to offer words of support through the simple act of writing a note.
“We all need encouragement in life,” Barclay said, “and for young people here, it is a beautiful opportunity to expand their own world by looking into the world of another.
“For the recipients of a note of encouragement, the simple, loving act of reaching out with a kind word helps a striving student or an elder know that someone has taken the time to know them, and to respond to the realities of their life. We all want to be understood, and this simple act can bring goodness to the lives of people on both sides.”
Some of the notes written by the middle school students revealed just how big an impact the project could have. One writer, Sarah, gained a new perspective on her own life from learning more about a young woman from India.
For another student, Adela, reading the profile of someone living in poverty showed her just how much they had in common, like their love of math.
Jessica Leader-Kirk was one of the Unbound staff members who helped organize the letter-writing activity at the middle school. She was impressed by the depth of character she saw in the notes written by the middle school students.
“Working with these kids was a heartwarming experience,” Jessica said. “I can remember middle school being the hardest time in my life. There were so many changes happening and I was trying to find myself. For kids that age to express the beautiful sentiments that came out in their letters is amazing.”
Plans are to continue to offer visitors to our headquarters the chance to write notes of encouragement, and to possibly expand the project to other schools, youth groups and organizations.
“In practical terms, this message gets to the heart of our program,” Barclay said. “Unbound is not simply a vehicle for the distribution of benefits, but it is a movement of compassionate people who have seen the transformational power of human connection.
“Reaching out with a simple word of encouragement has the power to recognize our shared humanity. It brings forth the courage to reach beyond borders, both seen and unseen, to see ourselves as fellow travelers along this human journey.”
Send your own note of encouragement to your sponsored friend today.