Living Unbound: The resiliency of elders
Salvación has been fiercely independent from a young age. When other girls her age were being forced into arranged marriages, Salvación left home to avoid marrying someone she didn’t know. Now at the age of 84, Salvación remains independent. It isn’t easy being on her own, but her neighbors check in on her and she has the help of Stephanie in Louisiana, who has been her Unbound sponsor for 16 years.
At 67, Fanjo is no stranger to hard work, from being in the Malagasy army to working in a textile factory, and finally working as a rickshaw driver. He and his wife had nine children, five of whom are still living. “I worked so hard because I love my children so much,” Fanjo said. “I wanted my children to have all they need. I wanted them to have a bright future.”
Jayamma isn’t sure exactly how old she is or how long she and Amos have been married, though she knows they’ve been together for more than 30 years. She remembers that Amos was very handsome when she met him. Both lost their parents at a young age, and Jayamma lost the full use of her legs from childhood polio. Amos used to carry Jayamma on his back but now that they’re older, they use a tricycle to get around.
William took to heart his grandfather’s advice to live in harmony with and respect others. He said he’s always loved being among people and being a peacemaker. These traits likely helped when he was elected a village elder. At 62, William lives with his wife, five children and a grandchild. His children are educated, but jobs in their fields are hard to find. To help them provide for the family, William taught them farming, and together they make a living from the land.
In her community, 101-year-old Elisa is known as “mamita” because she’s delivered so many babies. “Even the mayor calls me ‘mamita’ because I delivered him, too,” Elisa said. She never attended school but became a midwife at the age of 14. Elisa learned the trade, which has been in the family for generations, from her mother. She hopes the skill continues with descendants like granddaughter Luz (middle), with whom she lives, and her daughter Maria (left).
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