Aug 31 2015

Finding golden friendships in his golden years

Alan, a 75-year-old sponsored elder in Costa Rica.

Alan, a 75-year-old sponsored elder in Costa Rica.

At 75, Alan would not strike anyone as a likely candidate for adoption. But the Unbound mothers group in his community didn’t let that stand in their way. They have taken Alan into their hearts and care for him as one of their own.

Alan is a sponsored elder in Unbound’s San Jose program in Costa Rica. By his own account he has lived a full and happy life, but there have been struggles. As a young man he lost an eye in a motorcycle accident, and eight years ago he had a leg removed because of diabetes.

Once a proud and hard worker, Alan held a variety of jobs over the years. Most recently he sold fruit from a cart. Pushing it over the rough streets and hills of the city was difficult enough when Alan was healthy, but became impossible after he lost his leg.

Declining health forced Alan to retire to his small home. With no steady income he struggled to survive until he received assistance from Unbound.

“I remember one day I had no money to pay the rent,” Alan said. “I went to Maribel [an Unbound social worker], to see if she could help me. I don’t have any idea how she did it but she came to me and said, ‘Here is the money to pay [the rent for] your house,’ and that was the start of our special friendship.”

Alan has now been sponsored for 12 years. Through Unbound he was also introduced to the mothers group in his area. It was, from the start, a blessed relationship and Alan eagerly expresses his gratitude.

Mothers group members Josefa, Maribel, Eugenia (with baby) and Petrona surround Alan with loving care.

Mothers group members Josefa, Maribel, Eugenia (with baby) and Petrona surround Alan with loving care.

“It is like they are my siblings, with love and respect. The attention they have given me, the attention they give to everyone [is wonderful]. These ladies have helped me a lot. It’s like a new beginning for me.”

Besides helping with chores around his house, the women in the group provide Alan with friendship at a time of life when many seniors experience loneliness and isolation.

“Their presence in my life fills me up with energy,” Alan said. “Sometimes three or four mothers come to visit. They bring children and for me it’s a [welcome] distraction. For me it is a good thing.”

Alan’s friendship with the mothers group is one example of how Unbound helps foster community. The hope that sponsorship brings to children, their families and elders helps lift burdens of need and allows people to look after their neighbors with more tender care.

At this time in his life, Alan is greatly enjoying that newfound spirit of neighborliness.

“When [the women in the mothers group] look at me in the street, they stop me and ask me, ‘How are you, Don Alan?’, with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. There is a perseverance in them which has given me a spirit of encouragement. They cheer me up. I appreciate them very much.”

Learn more about how Unbound sponsorship helps make life less burdensome for seniors. Sponsor an elder.

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