Luis has spent his whole life in La Paz, Bolivia. And for 15 of his 26 years, he has been sponsored by Anna from Ohio. Being part of the Unbound program has had a big impact on his life, and the values he learned from the organization helped shape his desire to serve others through police work.
“I have this strong desire to serve, to provide a helping hand for others,” Luis said. “If I have a coin in my pocket and I see someone who needs it more, I give it to the person even though I know that I also need it. I think I’ve picked up this type of attitude at Unbound, the spirit of serving with no self-interest.
“Sponsors are great role models because they provide support for people like me just because their heart says, ‘They need it.’ … I think I joined the [police] academy with the hopes that this career could provide opportunities for me to help society.”
Luis joined Unbound after his mother, Fabiola, went to the local office seeking help. She struggled to make ends meet as a single mother raising Luis and his sister.
“My mother is a fighter — she has raised both of us on her own,” Luis said. “My sister and I have different fathers, but mom loves us equally. I treasure and have a lot of respect for my mom.
“… As a child you don’t really realize what is going on, but I know that my mother had a hard time to provide the basics for us. Unbound has been supportive in providing things like clothes and food. And many other things like my desk, wardrobe and school supplies.
“Sponsorship has also given me the chance to make many friends. I remember playing soccer and volleyball with other kids after our monthly gatherings [at Unbound].”
In addition to the spirit of service Luis learned from Unbound, he was also inspired to police work at the age of 16 by his best friend’s brother.
“My best friend’s brother was in the academy, and the uniforms he used looked elegant,” Luis said. “But sadly I couldn’t join the academy because uniforms and equipment were too expensive.
“I was still determined to go so I decided to join GACIP (Civil Support Group for Police), which is a group of volunteers that provide civilian support to the police. I did this for four years. I helped the police give out toys to kids and provide security at parks and soccer games.
“I got so involved that I even got to be Paquito the Dog (the Bolivian police mascot). This is how I found more love and desire toward becoming a police officer.”
Money isn’t the only obstacle to joining the academy. Becoming a police officer is a dream of many in Bolivia. Luis shared that when he applied, there were 10,000 applicants but only 600 were accepted. Luis was among those 600, and he finally got the chance to attend the Academia Nacional de Policias (National Police Academy), at the age of 22.
“Money is a challenge because the academy is expensive; this is why I have so much respect for my mother, because she works hard so that I may continue my dream. She may not be able to provide much money, but I always have a warm plate of food at home. When I turned 22, my mother said, ‘I know your dream is to be a police officer and we will do all we can to support your dream.’
“My dream is becoming a reality because I have gotten help from all my family. My sister writes small cards to our neighbors every year asking for support to buy uniforms. God has blessed me with kind neighbors, like the man from the store who helped buy my sports attire, and my aunt who helped buy a suit and many, many other people, including Unbound and my sponsor.”
And to his sponsor, Anna, he has this to say:
“Thank you for helping people like me overcome hard circumstances of poverty. When you help a person, that same person may someday help someone else and this becomes a cycle. This is what unites humanity, and I believe this can change a community, a country and the world.”
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