Gabriela, a sponsored youth and scholarship holder from Honduras.
Feb 26 2016

Learning to lead

Gabriela, a sponsored youth and scholarship holder from Honduras.

Gabriela, a sponsored youth and scholarship holder from Honduras.

Gabriela is the quintessential leader.

She excels in her studies. She coordinates a church group. And she’s a service scholar and mentor for other sponsored friends in Unbound.

But Gabriela hasn’t always been an all-around leader. She’s come a long way since she was first sponsored at 4 years old.

“Fear and shyness have been challenges that I have been able to overcome through confidence in myself and the space I’ve found in Unbound and the church,” she said. “That has allowed me to counter these challenges and be free.”

Gabriela is in her third year of Honduras’ equivalent of high school. Her days are full of activities and commitments very different from most 18-year-olds.

Gabriela walks to the bus stop each morning to get to school.

Gabriela walks to the bus stop each morning to get to school.

“I wake up at 4 a.m. to pray for family and friends,” Gabriela said. “Then I take a shower, put on my uniform, take my breakfast and then I start walking to the bus stop. My school schedule is from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m.”

And that’s just before lunch. Her afternoons are filled with homework and volunteering at the local Unbound office. She attends church at 5 p.m. and then heads home to help prepare dinner for her family.

In addition to her daily routine, Gabriela hosts a weekly gathering at her home to share her faith with her neighbors.

Gabriela acknowledges her daily routine can be exhausting. The solidarity of her sponsor, Lynn from Kansas, has been an inspiration.

“We are living in a very difficult situation, but now it’s different,” Gabriela said. “My sponsor, Lynn, is walking by my side and it’s a valuable support.”

Unbound empowers sponsored members along their journey out of poverty. So it’s no surprise that Gabriela has also been given a leadership role to inspire others to follow in her footsteps.

“Thanks to the opportunity that I receive as a scholar and sponsored [member], people see me as a leader,” Gabriela said. “They are close enough to me to ask me for help or advice. They trust me.”

As part of the scholarship she receives through Unbound, Gabriela volunteers some of her time each week at the local Unbound office. One of her roles is leading a small group of young people called MicroRED. The group is an avenue for young people to engage in recreational activities and to dream together about a better future.

Sendy, a social worker for Unbound, walks with Gabriela on their way to a meeting with other scholars.

Sendy, a social worker for Unbound, walks with Gabriela on their way to a meeting with other scholars.

During group meetings, sponsored youth create an annual plan for using their monthly sponsorship benefits and discuss their futures and goals. They have monthly activities and volunteer with mothers groups in their neighborhood.

Gabriela is proud to be sponsored and is grateful for her firsthand experience with how Unbound heeds the Gospel call to serve the poor.

“Unbound works with families that sometimes are marginalized from society, people that might feel forgotten,” Gabriela said. “That’s the attitude that Jesus had. He walked with people and in a very personal way.”

Gabriela has come a long way from where she started 14 years ago. But she knows her journey is still just beginning. She hopes to graduate from high school with an emphasis in social work before going to college to become a doctor.

“My path to success is not something easy, but I trust in God and I give thanks to him,” Gabriela said. “I have a family in Unbound and I also have my sponsor, who is someone essential in my life. Your baggage gets light when someone is walking next to you.”

Walk with a child in poverty. Sponsor today.

One thought on “Learning to lead”

  1. I love the MicroRED concept. I can use that idea in my work in Alaska. We share many of same challenges in rural Alaska. I love the dreaming aspect and the planning. I am struck by the need to teach 21st Century children how to dream and believe in the them. It takes a lot of courage and support to follow your life-dream, especially in the dead, bright, blanche of social and entertainment media. Keep dreaming in color, and dare to be different.

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