Becky Findley after completing the 2015 Kansas City Marathon as an Unbound Trailblazer.
Becky Findley (left) with fellow Unbound Trailblazer Xandra Alpiser.
By Becky Findley, Unbound International Evaluations Manager and Unbound Trailblazer
We’ve all been there. That point during a run when you begin to think — “how much longer? Why am I even doing this anyway?” Unbound Trailblazer and staff member Becky Findley shares her reflection on her pursuit to overcome these feelings and become a “real” runner.
I’ve almost reached mile 22, and I’m feeling beat. The weather is unseasonably warm and humid, and my legs are sore. I signed up for this marathon to test my limits, and, in this moment, I think I’ve found them. In this moment, the topic cycling my brain is the question of why I signed up for this race.
Like most runners who began in adulthood, starting to run was a struggle. Going to the park was a humbling act. Other runners zipped past with an elegant combination of speed and athleticism while I struggled to find my stride with the grace of a duck. Quickly, I’d lose my breath, slow to a walk and wonder if I would ever be a “real” runner.
We’re pleased to present “Unbound Unscripted,” a monthly video series introducing staff members at our HQ in Kansas City. The staffers all have unique stories of how they came to Unbound and what makes it so special to them. First up is Gene Komer, who for many is the voice of Unbound. Watch the video to hear Gene’s story of taking 732 phone calls on his first day as our receptionist!
Julia and her husband, Dionicio, in their home in Bolivia.
The experience of having been hurt by others is, sadly, not an uncommon part of the story of many elderly people who live in poverty. Being poor carries with it great vulnerability and it only increases with age.
Many endure their hurts with grace and even learn to forgive. Those who find it within themselves to not only forgive, but actually reach out in compassion to the people who’ve wronged them, inspire us.
Sponsored child Vianey outside her home in Mexico.
By Loretta Shea Kline, managing editor at Unbound
On Valentine’s Day we focus our love on those closest to us, and that’s a beautiful thing. My hope and prayer for this year’s observance is that we also make room in our hearts to love our neighbor, near and far.
The Catholic social teachings that are at the foundation of our work at Unbound call us to expand our understanding of “neighbor” — to embrace our sisters and brothers in our human family wherever they live and whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic and religious differences may be.
We’re called to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first, and respect the inherent dignity of every person.
Letter writing is an important part of the Unbound program. Letters connect sponsors with their sponsored friends, giving them a chance to learn about each other’s lives and offer encouragement.
But have you ever wondered about the journey your letter takes on its way to your sponsored friend? Watch this video, which illustrates the journey of a letter from a sponsor in the U.S. to her sponsored friend in the Philippines, to get a better idea of the effort and love that goes into delivering each letter.
Cristina and her husband, Epifanio, in their home.
Whether it’s providing workshops for sponsored members and their families or encouraging children and youth to stay in school, education has always been a pillar of the Unbound program. And we know that each person has unique needs and abilities, so Unbound social workers work with sponsored members to find the education that’s the best fit, from taking formal classes during the week or opting for technical school or a training program.
With the assistance they receive from Unbound, individuals around the world are choosing to continue their education, and some are even able return to their studies after having to take a break. And Unbound doesn’t just limit the encouragement to children and youth. One of the best examples of this is sponsored elder Cristina from Guatemala. Cristina is 63 years old and has been a part of the Unbound program for more than four years.
In her role as program director at Unbound, Pritha Hariharan visits sponsored child Antony at his home in India.
By Pritha Hariharan, program director for Unbound’s international programs
“I passed out of college in 1996.”
I said this to a mostly American audience, only to receive a mixture of horrified and puzzled looks. An Indian friend helpfully stepped in and explained that I had not, in fact, fainted in said year, but had graduated from college at that time. That was my first exposure to the idea that there are some phrases in Indian English that are very uniquely Indian. So much so that many Americans wouldn’t know what I was referring to unless they have spent a significant amount of time either traveling in India or working with other Indians.
Don’t get me wrong. Almost everyone knows that there are some basic differences — that we in India use British English — such as adding the u in “colour” and calling an elevator a “lift” and an apartment a “flat.” However, the uniqueness of some of these phrases is worth pointing out, especially to sponsors who might be a bit confused by the letters they’ve received from their sponsored children in India.
Charles welcomes customers to his tailoring business.
Charles works on a garment that he will later sell.
When hit with a tragedy, the idea of moving forward can be daunting. For 62-year-old Charles from Kenya, his wife’s passing meant learning how to function without his life and business partner.
Raising 14 children and grandchildren together, including their 13-year-old granddaughter, Lucy, who is sponsored through Unbound in 2011, Charles and his wife knew they had to maintain steady sources of income. His wife had opened a small tailoring shop, and Charles started working with her after he lost his position as a supervisor in a sugar company nearly 20 years ago.
“I had taken my wife to a tailoring school and she had learned to make women’s clothes,” Charles said. “I learned from a friend how to make men’s clothes. … We made a strong team.”
Clair Paul, center, with some of her fellow Outreach team coworkers.
By Clair Paul, lead Outreach Coordinator for Unbound
It’s 2017 and we are excited to start a new year, set new goals and find new ways to share Unbound in communities around the country.
Last year, more than 1,700 children and elders were sponsored because our supporters talked about Unbound to people they know. Wow! That’s 1,700 families that can now send their kids to school, put healthy food on the table and know that someone believes in them reaching for their dreams.
And all because somebody was willing to start a conversation.
Peter holds a handful of the charcoal that he sells to sustain his family.
Peter, from Kenya, is 48 years old and a single father of eight children. Peter supports his family through a charcoal business, which he was able to expand with the help of the Unbound mother’s group to which he belongs, and support from the sponsorship of two of his children.
“I had two wives,” Peter said. “One wife died while giving birth to our daughter. … [My second wife and I] had a conflict, and she walked away from our children and me. I have since adjusted and decided to take up life as a single father.”