This is the first in a series of four stories about fathers of children sponsored through Unbound. We’ll be posting these leading up to the celebration of Father’s Day on June 19. Click here to watch the companion video.
Parents take on the awesome responsibility of caring for small, vulnerable human beings and guiding them into adulthood. It’s hard to do under the best of circumstances and those who succeed are to be admired.
But parents who raise happy, healthy children while struggling with poverty are more than admirable. They’re heroic. There are thousands of such heroes in the Unbound community and Marcelo is one of them.
Marcelo is 47 and lives in Guatemala, where he’s in the last years of raising his six children, who range in age from 15 to 26. Irma, the youngest, is sponsored through Unbound.
The children’s mother, Catalina, was the love of Marcelo’s life. They were married for 17 years after first meeting in church.
“I fell in love with her because she was beautiful,” Marcelo said. “She was important to me because of her patience and humbleness. She helped me by motivating me to walk God’s path and fight spiritually and materially.”
That fight became more difficult when Catalina died unexpectedly.
“She passed away giving birth,” he said. “I was not able to take her to a hospital. I tried but half way there she died.”
The baby was also lost.
The shock of losing his wife and child was difficult enough, but Marcelo had the extra responsibility of suddenly becoming the single parent of six children, five of them girls. He learned a lot, quickly.
“When no one is home, I come and start my fire,” Marcelo said. “I cook [and] I can do the things that a woman does. I sweep and that’s what I do. There are always things to do. I clean up. I can wash clothes and dishes.”
This is in addition to his regular job farming.
“We work the land so our family has food,” he said. “I go at 7:30 or 8 a.m. and come back at 5 or 6 p.m. because I have to earn so we have bread for my family.”
His older children who are now young adults help around the house, too. His two oldest daughters work as weavers and contribute to the family income.
Unbound has also been a welcome source of support. Marcelo is grateful that Irma’s sponsorship has allowed her to go to school.
“My daughter has been sponsored for about seven years,” Marcelo said. “Unbound has helped us a lot because it is giving me great support. It helped me move forward with my family.
“And, thank God, it helped a lot, because with my efforts alone I could not do it. We are grateful to God.”
Faith anchors Marcelo’s life. He credits it for helping him after his wife’s death as he took on the burden of raising a large family alone.
“I have put everything in the hands of God.”