At Unbound, we love providing the opportunity for our sponsors and supporters to travel to see our work and meet their sponsored friends on Unbound awareness trips. We have a great team here in our Kansas City office that works closely with our staff abroad to make it all happen. This team is here to answer all your questions and get you ready for your trip, and we want you to get to know them! Learn about the trips team, and then check out upcoming awareness trips with Unbound.
Name: Stacy King
Title: Lead trip coordinator
Employed with Unbound since: May 2009
First Unbound Awareness Trip: Mérida, Mexico, in November 2009
Recent awareness trips: Philippines, Guatemala and El Salvador
A favorite cultural experience: While visiting families in our Bhagalpur office in rural India, families performed a welcome blessing that involved incense, singing and foot washing. Once the blessing was complete, some of the mothers took the ladies of the group to get dressed in saris. It was a beautiful moment that I will never forget!
When Stacy met her own sponsored friend on an awareness trip: In 2015 my husband, Matt, joined his first awareness trip to Kenya where we met our sponsored elder, Esther. As we sat in her little, dark home talking about life, loss and hardship, Esther also talked about her pets, two kittens and a duck. As we talked, the kittens would peek in and the duck would walk past the door, almost as if they were checking on Esther. We asked Esther if we could take a picture with her and at that moment one of the two kittens decided it wanted to come out and play with my shirt. Esther started to laugh and it was contagious! In that moment we felt that we connected with Esther on a very human level.
What do you want every Unbound supporter to know about awareness trips? These trips are so easy! You get to see and do so much, but you don’t need to worry about planning it. Awareness trips are not your normal tourism; you will do things and go places off the beaten path, and feel like you are going to visit old friends.
Name: Joanna Pergande
Title: Trip coordinator
Employed with Unbound since: August 2014
First Unbound Awareness Trip: Mérida, Mexico, in November 2014
Recent awareness trips: Costa Rica, Chile, Mexico and Honduras
A favorite site or landmark visited on a trip: I loved visiting and swimming in the cenotes in Mérida, which are freshwater sinkholes in the Yucatan.
What Joanna loves most about coordinating awareness trips: I love seeing the sponsor have the aha moment — that no matter where you are from, everyone has hopes, dreams, struggles and triumphs, and that’s something we all have in common. I also love working with the local staff and seeing sponsors from different backgrounds develop friendships over the course of the trip.
A favorite experience with a sponsor: I was on a trip with a traveler named Stephen, who was traveling with his wife and teenage son. He was very jaded with NGOs after living in Africa for several years and wasn’t very interested in Unbound’s work — he had come along merely to support his wife. But within two days, he saw that the work of Unbound was different. Not only did he now appreciate Unbound’s work, he decided to sponsor a young boy who reminded him of his son. The experience allowed him to take ownership in the work of Unbound.
What do you want every Unbound supporter to know about awareness trips? Just go. The experience will impact your life in many different ways — through meeting your sponsored friend, other sponsors, the local staff and getting to see a part of the world from a different perspective.