Ever wants to be a soccer player and get a college degree.
Ana Maria is studying technology in industrial processes.
Gloria’s son Juan wants to be an engineer.
Maria wants to improve her dressmaking business and help her son realize his dream of being a fireman.
They all have unique goals for themselves and their families. And because they’re part of the Unbound program in Colombia, they receive their benefits via child accounts, which gives them flexibility in using the funds to achieve their goals.
Ever is 11, and he has been sponsored by Guadalupe and Patricia from Texas since 2011. When it was time to make the family goals for how they wanted to use their sponsorship benefits, Ever’s parents included him in the decision.
“My parents ask me what do I want to do with the money, and I tell them that we must invest them in my school and in my soccer training,” Ever said.
“Besides being a professional soccer player, I also want to have a college degree. I want to be an electrical engineer. I like it because my dad works fixing things and I do like fixing things at home. I fix my toys and do some experimenting at school with toy electrical engines, etc. I really like that.”
Eighteen-year-old Ana Maria has been sponsored by Emilee from Kentucky for almost 15 years. Ana Maria originally wanted to study psychology, but decided to switch to her second option of technical school because it was more affordable.
In addition to using sponsorship funds for her education, she’s also paying for her braces. Beyond the health benefits fixing her teeth provides, Ana Maria sees braces as an investment in her future employability.
“I have been under treatment for about five months,” she said. “My upper teeth were bending out and my lower teeth were totally twisted. The real reason why I decided to use those funds to fix my teeth is that I want to be in the industrial companies, and I knew that not having a good image will represent a problem, so I wanted to fix them while studying so I can have a much more professional image once I graduate and look for work.”
Gloria has been part of the Unbound program for many years. Her youngest, Juan, 14, is sponsored, and Gloria remembers the transition from receiving benefits as goods to receiving them as funds in the child account.
“Today is much better,” Gloria said. “We receive a transfer of our sponsorship fund to our bank accounts. We, as a family, were invited, before we received the actual funds in our bank accounts, to identify a family goal and a personal goal by the sponsored member in our family. Our family goal is to support as much as we possibly can our son to reach his dream, which is to become an engineer.”
Maria is a young mother of four. Her second oldest, 8-year-old Samuel, is sponsored by Curtis and Susan from Louisiana. Maria learned dressmaking from her mother, who owned a small shop. As she got older, she had the opportunity to work with a professional designer, but left that job to take care of her kids. Now she works from home, and her husband works in construction, though the income isn’t steady. Receiving benefits by way of child accounts allows Maria and her family to save for what they need.
“We receive a monthly funds transfer and we get to decide how we are investing those funds to benefit our children,” Maria said. “… The dream is to have our own house, the goal as a family is to improve our dressmaking business. We need an extra sewing machine, and the goal of my child is to be a fireman. The short-term goal for this year is for Samuel to enter some swimming classes and first-aid training, which are courses that will help him in his long-term goal of being a fireman.”
Each of these families has goals for the future, and even when the goals seem similar, they approach them in the way that best fits their particular needs. Child accounts put the decision making in the hands of the parents, allowing for complete personalization of sponsorship benefits.
Watch for our upcoming issue of Living Unbound to learn more about child accounts. The publication will be mailed to sponsors and posted on our website in June.