Tune in to our Facebook page for a special evening of discovery
Unbound will broadcast our spring Global Insight Series on Facebook Live Wednesday, April 25! We know not everyone can make it to our Kansas City headquarters, so we’re bringing the event to you. Tune in on Facebook from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Central time to learn more about how — and why — Unbound programs around the world are investing more and more in the leadership of the mothers of sponsored children.
Unbound coordinators Rose Muiruri of Tanzania and Vincent Murmu of India will share some of the distinct challenges facing families in their communities, and how mothers who make less than $4 a day are upending conventional wisdom about charity — and challenging our own expectations of what is possible.
Unbound’s Global Insight Series features frontline staff from around the world who walk shoulder-to-shoulder with families on their paths out of poverty. These on-the-ground experts deeply understand the joys and challenges of collaborating with families working to build a better future for their children.
Do you have a question that you’d like to ask Rose or Vincent during the event? Go to our Facebook page and submit a question for one of our coordinators at any time. Then, tune in at 6 p.m. CST on April 25 and you may hear the answer to your question.
Want to attend the event in person? Visit Unbound.org/insightseries to reserve your spot today!
Three determined women show what it means to lead
The Unbound world is full of people gathering up their courage and taking risks in order to find success. Our sponsored friends and their families give us amazing examples of how we can all be at our best for each other. The following stories are about three women from the Unbound world who exemplify this strength and teach us what it means to be courageous.
The courage to be honest
Yomira, left, teaches Unbound scholarship students Gisela and Anjely about the record system used by the Lima office in Peru. The students work in the office to fulfill community service requirements of the scholarship program.
Yomira, 22, is a former sponsored child who is now a full-time Unbound staff member in Lima.
Growing up in a small community outside of Lima, Peru, Yomira and her peers were confronted with drugs, gangs, prostitution and alcoholism. Relying on the values of her strong family and a healthy sense of self-esteem, Yomira was able to avoid these pitfalls. She channeled her energy into dance, where she performed with a group at schools and public events.
Difficulties did come, however, when Yomira became pregnant at a young age. Since she had established good communication with her Unbound sponsor, she decided to share the news with her.
“At first, I thought, ‘I’ve lost everything.’ My parents were upset with me, and I thought she [my sponsor] was not going to continue being my sponsor; I really did not know what to do,” Yomira said. “But she wrote me and told me that she was going to continue supporting me.
Guatemalan youth doesn't give up on education
By Jordan Kimbrell, writer/editor
Transita smiles in welcome outside her home.
I recently had a conversation with my grandmother about dreams. We talked about how sometimes they evolve as we mature, or even fade away to be replaced by new ones. I once dreamed of becoming a professional actress (I even started out as a theater major), but anyone who had seen me as a child with my nose constantly in a book wouldn’t be surprised to learn my dream had changed and I ended up as a writer/editor.
What is true of most dreams is that, for them to become reality, they require hard work. For me that meant going back to get my master’s. Luckily, I received a teaching assistantship and had access to student loans to make my educational dreams a reality. But these resources aren’t always available in places where Unbound works, and even with an Unbound sponsorship, once a student reaches upper levels of education the cost may be more than she can afford.
That was the reality Transita, 26, in Guatemala faced when she graduated high school in 2013. She’s been sponsored since 2003, but the many expenses that go along with college were simply more than the sponsorship could help with.
Kenyan youth finds success despite 'mistakes'
By Regina Mburu, Unbound communications liaison for Africa
Former sponsored member George cooks a chapatti at his roadside food kiosk in Kenya.
With a smile on his face, George kneads and rolls the dough on a wooden table at his roadside food kiosk in Kenya. The cars tooting their horns, the speeding motorbikes and the pedestrians are not a distraction to him; in fact, the commuters and passersby are his clients. Every few minutes, someone walks up to him and buys a chapatti or mandazi, which are both snacks made of wheat flour.
The 23-year-old, toiling away at his makeshift stand, said, “This is not what I dreamt of doing, but my mistakes growing up led me here. I do not regret, though, because I am proud of what I have become.”
Remembering lessons learned from co-founder Bob Hentzen
By Paco Wertin, church relations director for Unbound
Bob Hentzen entertains a group of children on a January 2013 awareness trip to Guatemala.
It’s been a while now, Roberto, since you’ve been gone, and every time your birthday comes up, we remember you and give thanks for the gift you were and continue to be for us all here at Unbound.
This sentiment echoes in my heart as March 29 approaches.
Bob Hentzen, co-founder of Unbound, was our teacher. It was in his bones. He joined the Christian Brothers and taught school in the United States, in Guatemala and in Colombia. Then something profound happened. Bob fell in love with the people he served and became their student, learning from them and opening his heart to the power of their love.
By Gustavo Aybar, communications field liaison coordinator
Asma demonstrates how her water filtration system works.
What I remember most about visiting my home country of the Dominican Republic as a child centers around lack of access to clean, fresh, hot water. Life in the DR was very different and less comfortable than life in the United States. For example, I discovered there was considerable money, time and energy involved in having water readily available. I still remember the day as a 10-year-old I saw my “crush” walking toward me, lugging a full gallon of water in each hand, having recently visited the watering hole for her family.
As World Water Day approaches on March 22 and people everywhere ponder the issue of clean water, I wanted to share how one woman I met in India, Asma, and her family combat the problem of access to potable water. Asma, her husband, Jaleel, and their son and daughter welcomed my coworkers and me into their home in Hyderabad, which they rent from a friend. The home also functions as the facility for the small mineral water plant the family started just a few years ago.
The U.N.’s World Water Day organization said 2.1 billion people around the world lack access to safely managed drinking water services. In addition, an estimated 1.8 million people get their drinking water from an unimproved source, with no protection against contamination from human waste, the U.N. said.
Contaminated and polluted water is a huge problem in India. Sewage, garbage and other waste discharged into lakes and rivers are contributors. Unsafe practices by factories also poison the water with chemicals and toxins.
These realities make Asma’s role a vital one. The water business allows her to do fulfilling work that provides an important service to the community.
Texas parents visit Guatemala with adopted sons
Last summer, Cecile Villarreal traveled with her husband, Raul, and two sons, Alex and Lou, to Guatemala on an Unbound awareness trip. Alex and Lou, who were adopted by Cecile and Raul, were born in Guatemala, and this was their first time visiting their birth country. In this interview, Cecile shares with contributing writer Maureen Lunn about taking an Unbound adventure with her family.
Cecile and Raul Villarreal with their sons, Alex (far left) and Lou (center), and their sponsored friends, Hector (second from left) and Magdalena (far right).
Maureen: How long have you been involved with Unbound, and what led you to initially become a sponsor?
Cecile: We started sponsoring our first child, Magdalena, in 2005. We had adopted my oldest son, Alex, from Guatemala in 2000 and had become part of an association of parents who had done the same. In one of the association meetings, an adoptive parent introduced Unbound to us, and we picked Magdalena that very same day. A few years later, we started sponsoring Manuelito. We felt that was a great way to be useful and to keep contact with our sons’ heritage.
Celebrating International Women's Day
It’s International Women’s Day March 8, so we’re sharing the stories of three remarkable Kenyan women. Women like these are the backbone of Unbound programs, demonstrating the strength and courage it takes to create real change for their families and communities.
Making her own decisions
People in her community didn’t take Elizabeth seriously when she started her business carrying passengers to school and work on the back of her bicycle.
They said it was man’s work and questioned whether she was strong enough. That was more than 10 years ago.
“At first they doubted me and would not let me carry them, but with time I have been accepted,” she said.
Elizabeth shows off the bike she relies on for her livelihood.
A group of children in El Salvador get ready to play a game of soccer.
Blanca, the mother of a sponsored child in Guatemala, proudly wears medals she has won as a runner.
It’s been my lifelong desire to learn a martial art and to master a self-defense practice so I can walk through this world confident, respectful and aware of how I can control my actions.
There exists a resiliency that I believe sports can teach us.
My intent in enrolling my son and me in karate was to help my son hone his voice and body. I also don’t want him to allow shyness to negatively influence his life choices and potential success, as I did.
In class, as in many places of the world, there are boys and girls we’ve seen as examples. A 4-year-old girl helped me find my voice and I now have louder “kiais” (shouts). A young woman has shown me how to teach by the way she celebrates our efforts, yet she also expects more next class.
Sports plays an important role for many in the Unbound community. I enjoyed reading the story of now 13-year-old sponsored child James and his father, from Kenya, who worked to overcome financial and other challenges as James pursued his speed skating dreams.
Reflection from a Trailblazer
By Maureen Lunn, contributing writer and Unbound Trailblazer
Maureen Lunn and Andrew Kling, Unbound’s director of community outreach and media relations, wear Trailblazer t-shirts while doing yoga.
Maureen holds her yoga teaching certificate. She used her progress toward her certificate as a way to raise funds for Unbound’s scholarship program.
When I learned about the Unbound Trailblazers, my first thought was, “That sounds really cool. Too bad I hate running.”
I quickly learned that you don’t have to be a runner, walker or competitor to participate in Trailblazers, which is a worldwide team of Unbound sponsors and supporters who challenge poverty by raising money through athletics.
Still, I didn’t know how I could participate (but I really wanted that cool teal Trailblazers shirt). Then it finally hit me — yoga! I’d been practicing yoga for more than a decade and was about to graduate from a year-long yoga teacher training program. Trailblazers would create a perfect platform to request graduation gifts from my friends and family in the form of donations to Unbound.