Over the last decade Unbound has been shifting more and more of the decision-making power into the hands of the families we serve. We believe that families know best what they need and when, so creating a program that is personalized to each family just made sense.
As part of that shift, our local staff have focused on providing guidance to the families on making budgets and goals for how they want to utilize their sponsorship benefits.
Personal program goals put into action a belief in the decision-making power of individual sponsored members. For this reason, goal setting and goal orientation are an important part of living out many other Unbound program characteristics. A personal goal is simply a specific dream about how someone’s life or situation will be in the future. A goal could be related to someone’s future career, education, health status or economic situation.
Staff members from our office in Antioquia, Colombia, came together to share the process they went through when transitioning to the method of using personal program goals.
How did the Antioquia office begin to create personalized benefits (proposed plans and goals)?
The first step was to listen to the dreams of each sponsored member and their family members. We asked them to write it, draw it, visualize it and commit to it, under a simple motto: “If you can dream it, you can do it.”
Once this process of expressing dreams was finished, these dreams were integrated into the individual folders for each sponsored member and their family, as a fundamental working tool moving forward.
In the next step, families identified how the sponsorship of Unbound could support them in fulfilling their dreams. It was so important for families and for the whole team to hear so many dreams, desires, goals, aspirations, strengths and potentials to fulfill these dreams. This easily took us to the next step, giving “power” to the families by investing their monthly sponsorship contribution and focusing it to achieve these dreams. We called this “Unbound supports my dreams.” We committed ourselves to the strength of the word dream and the desire of every family to be the protagonists of their own change.
From the time it began to today’s date, has the new program developed positively?
It’s a resounding YES! A yes that inspires us to smile from the bottom of our hearts. Not everything has been rosy, that would be a lie, but we can say it’s worth placing confidence and power in families. We can feel the level of commitment, willingness and responsibility grow considerably within their own process.
Many families expressed how this exercise of writing their dreams and committing themselves to those dreams gives direction and a clearer sense of their lives. In addition, they can feel the presence of the sponsors and the Unbound community as a beacon of hope to guide and direct the way.
Our role as a team has changed; we’re past dedicating time to sort benefits, sizes and colors to investing more time in listening, guiding and learning about the great potential of each person.
What have been the achievements and difficulties of the process?
The main achievement is discovering the level of responsibility and empowerment that most families show with their transformation and commitment to their dreams. Their enthusiasm and strength to fight for what they want, identifying the increase in self-esteem to feel valued and to recognize that they can learn new things in their lives.
The difficulties are twofold. On one side there are the logistics of handling more than 7,500 individual accounts, tracking investment and savings and registering it in a timely manner to meet the times set for each process. While it has been challenging, we have managed to find best practices to overcome this challenge, involving scholars [students with Unbound scholarships] and leaders of the [Unbound] mother support groups.
The other side is the challenge that still occupies many of our efforts and energy, the fact that some families make an investment to contribute to basic needs such as food. We are aware of the daily shortcomings that our families face and the heavy weight of making decisions on the distribution of benefits, but we also know that we must transcend materialism. We want to continue being suppliers but in a way that transcends and transforms lives.
How many months did it take to plan and how many months to launch?
This new strategy has been at the heart of project staff and families for a long time, and we want to respond to this calling. It took about seven months to plan and shape the idea.
From being our inspiration, the families became protagonists for four months, running campaigns, launching activities and recognizing the initiative. It was a hard but satisfying job. Our families have shown great capacity to take on new changes in their lives. We went from focusing on the internalization of a new identity to innovating a new way to fulfill dreams. We are a capable force that transforms the world of today, where everyone is the protagonist of their own story.
Help a family reach their goals. Sponsor today.