Luis Cocón, communications liaison for Unbound in Guatemala, laughs with sponsored children while taking a break from a photo shoot.
May 25 2016

Creating connections in Latin America

Luis Cocón, communications liaison for Unbound in Guatemala, laughs with sponsored children while taking a break from a photo shoot.

Luis Cocón, communications liaison for Unbound in Guatemala, laughs with sponsored children while taking a break from a photo shoot.

Around the world, Unbound communications liaisons and correspondents are hard at work collecting inspiring stories of sponsored children and elders to share through Unbound publications, blog posts, social media and other channels.

In Guatemala, communications liaison Luis Cocón works with 16 correspondents in three countries (Mexico, Guatemala and Bolivia). He utilizes Skype and webinars to hold training meetings with new correspondents.

Staff members learn how to identify stories, collect information and conduct interviews. He also teaches photography skills, from the technical aspects of camera function to composing an image.

But most importantly, Luis always starts his training with the “why” behind his work with Unbound. He believes the voiceless need to be heard and desires to create connections for those willing to listen.

“In the training process, it is equally important to mentor and encourage correspondents to discover their own answers as to ‘why,'” he said. “This definitely impacts the quality and satisfaction in their work.”

In Cochabamba, Bolivia, Roxana Paniagua is one of those correspondents serving on Luis’s team. She began her training as a correspondent in 2012 and sent off her first story material in June of 2013. Roxana sees good stories everywhere she looks, as she interacts with the more than 3,000 Unbound families in the area.

Roxana has learned that one of the most important things to note during an interview isn’t just what someone is saying, but how they’re saying it. She works hard to pay close attention to expressions and body language as someone is sharing, and she tries to capture that same emotion in the story. For her, the completion of a story is the beginning of a new friendship.

“Being a correspondent has brought me closer to places, sceneries, people, cultures, customs and traditions,” Roxana said. “It has given me the opportunity to inspire more people to join us at Unbound and help others.”

Jean Carlo Arias Matarrita has served as a communications correspondent in San Jose, Costa Rica, for the past five years. Like Roxana, Jean has no problem finding stories to write about, though getting to them to do the work can be difficult. But no matter the distance and coordination that it can take to cover a good story, Jean notes that the time with the family always makes it worth it.

“The kindest, most responsible and most struggling people are the ones where we see a light of hope behind their experience,” he said.

Working with other Unbound team members, Jean relies on the community to make his work a success — not only Unbound staff, he also receives constant encouragement from scholarship holders and members of mothers groups.

“There are no boundaries at Unbound, and I think it is important to transmit those stories to the audience, stories of faith and hope from every corner of our world,” Jean said. “There is a lot to show.”

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