Ronaldo is an 18-year-old sponsored youth who lives with his parents and five siblings in Guatemala. He’s an impressive young man with wisdom beyond his years, and he learned early on one of life’s most valuable lessons about economics.
“Saving is very hard because we always need the money,” he said, “but spending it can be very easy. You have to really think about how you will spend your money and spend it right.”
Ronaldo thinks a lot about “spending it right,” and that farsightedness has guided him ever since he first became sponsored in 2006. (His current sponsor is Michael from Arkansas.) It led Ronaldo to choose livestock as a sponsorship benefit, a choice he’s never regretted.
“I have received many animals through Unbound,” he said. “I can´t remember exactly how many, but I do remember my very first animal. It was a pig. I loved that pig. I was a little boy and I enjoyed raising it. Then she had baby pigs. She had about 10 and they also grew. My mother sold those pigs for $26 each, so we made $260. My mother and my father said we should not spend the money and I thought it was a good idea. So we started putting money into a box. We bought a lock and we locked it.”
Over the years, Rolando has also raised sheep, a cow and several other animals. Each has eventually been sold and the profits stored away for the future.
Ronaldo’s story is an example of why Unbound believes that the families of sponsored persons should have the greatest say in the benefits they receive. This highly personalized approach reflects our belief that, when given choices, most people trying to rise out of poverty will use the resources well.
“My mother is wise,” Ronaldo said. “She is a wise mother because she thinks about the future. She has always been good at savings and she thought that animals were a good way to save money. We could have decided to get food supplies or other stuff but we decided for animals instead.”
That decision, along with his willingness to work hard and his self-discipline, has served Ronaldo well. In 2014, when an opportunity presented itself, he was able to use some of his savings to purchase two small pieces of land, one for him and one for his parents. Like with the livestock, he sees these as an investment in the welfare of his family and in his own future.
Ronaldo hopes that future will include college. He continues to save toward that goal in the hopes of eventually becoming a middle school and high school teacher. If that dream becomes a reality, his future students would do well to listen to whatever advice he offers them.
“I can say that you should be wise in choosing the right path in your life,” he said. “Go to school, do the right thing, don’t get into things that will harm you or your family. There are many values that I have learned from my parents but two of the more important ones are respect and inclusion for everyone.”
That’s a pretty good foundation for an 18-year-old businessman.
Ronaldo is featured on the cover of the upcoming issue of Living Unbound. The issue is filled with stories about the innovative ways Unbound uses personalized benefits to bring more choices to the families in our programs. Look for your copy in the mail in June. Not a sponsor or donor? Read our publications online.