Ana Alicia, 68, is a sponsored elder in El Salvador.
May 16 2016

A gift from God, a heart for service

Ana Alicia, 68, is a sponsored elder in El Salvador.

Ana Alicia, 68, is a sponsored elder in El Salvador.

If you were to ask Ana Alicia what drives her, at age 68, to stay as active as she is, she would probably tell you it’s the desire to help others.

“My secret for a long life,” she said, “is to pray, to get on my knees and pray to God to grant me life and health to help people.”

Ana Alicia is a sponsored elder in Unbound’s program in El Salvador. Her sponsors are Tony and Rosemary from New York.

“My sponsors, they are lovely,” Ana Alicia said. “I would love to meet them … and thank them personally for the things they do for me. I love them with all my heart.”

Widowed at a young age, Ana Alicia raised her five children by herself with what she was able to earn as a housekeeper. Today, her children are grown and raising their own families.

With her children gone from her home, Ana Alicia devotes her energies to helping her neighbors. She often visits those who are ill and homebound, and enjoys cooking for others.

Unbound is an important part of Ana Alicia’s life. Her home has become a center of activity for the local Unbound community. Reunions for sponsored children and elders have been held there, and Ana Alicia has opened her home to serve as a site for medical checkups.

While she appreciates everything that sponsorship provides, she especially enjoys the social outings.

“I love [the Unbound] trips,” she said. “I like to go out because I motivate people. When we are on the bus, I sing, I laugh, I like to dance. I dance so [other elders] can feel happy because there are some elderly that are sad and feel let down and I cheer them.”

She also finds joy in greeting sponsors and other travelers who visit El Salvador on Unbound awareness trips.

“I pray for the sponsors’ groups that arrive, no matter who they are sponsoring,” she said. “They are special people for me. I also pray for everyone working at Unbound.”

Though Ana Alicia’s life has included hardship and struggle, her faith and perseverance have allowed her to succeed in the things she believes are most important. All five of her children were educated at least to the ninth grade — an impressive accomplishment for a poor family in Latin America — and she remains close to each of them and her 14 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

She reflected on what she has learned from life, as only one with the wisdom of age can.

“I think that the gift God granted me is to be helpful, to be the way I am,” she said. “You’ll never see me angry even though I have problems or I’m sick.

“Whatever my mood is, I will always look for a way to help. Mrs. Mirna [her Unbound social worker] admires me and she says that it is a gift that God has granted me.”

Rarely has a gift been put to better use.

Experience the gift of sponsorship. Sponsor an elder today.

Larry Livingston

Larry Livingston
Senior Writer/Editor

Larry has been with Unbound since 2005. He has a background in theology, pastoral ministry and Catholic education, and has written for several national publications. Larry holds a bachelor’s degree from Benedictine College and a master’s degree from St. Meinrad School of Theology. He lives in Shawnee, Kansas with his wife, Kristi, and their son, Ben.

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