Myrna Cado and Loretta Kline wait in the rain for Pope Francis’ closing Mass to start. Myrna is a community leader and the mother of a sponsored child. She lost three of her children in 2000 after her home was swept away in a flash flood.
By Loretta Shea Kline, managing editor for Unbound
I witnessed generosity in abundance while in the Philippines for Pope Francis’ mid-January visit.
It was the kind of generosity in which people give, not from excess, but of themselves.
Pope Francis went to Tacloban to be with survivors of Typhoon Haiyan as another storm approached. I heard more than one person say how the gift of his presence gave them courage to face trials in their lives.
“He is one of us,” they said.
From left: Maritza, Karla’s mother, Karla, Mercedes and Marlene Garcia de Ramirez, an Unbound social worker in El Salvador.
The people who sponsor through Unbound are a rather diverse group. Some sponsors are children still in grade school, while others have been retired for years. They represent an array of backgrounds, ethnicities, occupations and beliefs. And while the majority of our sponsors were born and raised in the United States, many were not.
Mercedes Lima has been a sponsor for 21 years. Though she has called Florida home for quite some time, she is originally from a small town in El Salvador.
“I grew up in a very poor place,” Mercedes said, “that’s why I understand the suffering and sadness when you don’t have an opportunity to move forward.”
Fred and his great-aunt, Anna, from Uganda.
“I knew without proper education, his life would turn out bleak,” Anna said of her grandnephew. “I had to do everything within my reach to help him go to school and learn.”
The 72-year-old Ugandan woman took over the care of Fred when he was just 8 months old after the untimely death of his parents. Fred’s mother was Anna’s niece, whom Anna also cared for. Growing up, Fred has always just referred to Anna as his grandmother.
Anna found herself in a position to help her extended family after the end of her 29-year marriage. Anna’s husband, a polygamist, banished her from his home because Anna did not bear him children. She moved in with her ailing brother who soon died, leaving his children and grandchildren, Fred among them, in her care.
Elizabeth Alex, second from left, visits the home of Kusma, whose son Alok is sponsored through Unbound in India.
By Elizabeth Alex, community outreach and media relations director for Unbound
You meet some of the nicest people in a slum.
I learned that lesson the moment Kusma welcomed me into her home — a tiny, two-room place packed into a congested street — with the sounds of motorcycles, car horns, cows, food carts and the chatter of children joining the smells of exhaust, cow dung, dust and curry just outside her door.
The “door” is actually a few cloths draped in front of the entrance. The roof is a piece of tarp attached by some sticks and rope.
I met Kusma at the Unbound office in Agra, where she helps her mothers group raise money sewing shoe covers for visitors to the Taj Mahal. She invited me to visit any time.
Read more about Elizabeth’s visit
With 2015 officially here, there’s a whole year of birthdays ahead. To jazz up your birthday wishes throughout the year, watch this video of sponsored children from El Salvador teaching you how to say happy birthday in Spanish.
Make birthdays special for all sponsored friends by donating to the Birthday Fund.
Sponsor Tom Slattery greets his sponsored friend Francisca on an awareness trip to the Philippines.
Tom Slattery remembers the day he first saw a picture of Francisca, the elderly woman he sponsors in the Philippines.
He and his wife decided to sponsor someone after hearing a priest speak about Unbound at church one weekend. Tom’s wife, Nancy, chose a child. Tom picked Francisca after seeing her photo because “everybody was gravitating to the young people,” and he thought an older person would need support as well.
That was in 1996, when Francisca was 84. She’s 103 now.
“She is a beautiful human being,” Tom said. “She has meant a lot to me over the years, and to my wife.”
India is home to many different languages. It’s a big country, with lots of diversity. In the central and eastern states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Telugu is the most commonly spoken language.
Watch this video to learn how to say hello in Telugu. Then share your new skills at all the holiday parties.
Sponsor today and practice your language skills through letters.
From all of the Unbound communities around the world, we wish you a very merry Christmas.
Ruth takes a ride on a train at the Christmas party for sponsored children in Nairobi.
These Christmas trees were made by sponsored friends in Manila, Philippines using recycled and natural materials.
Unbound staff in Kansas City participate in an ugly sweater contest.
Sponsored youth Kenia (right) decorates a Christmas tree with her mom and brother outside their Salvadoran home.
John, who is sponsored through Unbound in Kenya, holds up the pair of jeans he got for Christmas. His parents purchased the jeans by saving a little each month from sponsorship benefits.
Gabby Vernon, service support liaison lead for Unbound’s Sponsor Services department, went all out on her Christmas decorations.
Sponsored children in Colombia get their faces painted at their annual Christmas party.
Sponsored youth in Kampala compete in a dance contest at their annual Christmas party.
Staff members in the Philippines decorate the office ahead of Christmas.
Staff members in Kansas display Christmas decorations to get in the spirit of the holiday.
Staff members in Honduras show-off some of the Christmas cards created by sponsored children.
Allan (left) and Slobodan (right) enjoy a hot meal at the Unbound Christmas party in Nairobi.
Sponsored girls in Colombia work on crafts at their annual Christmas party.
Sponsored child Katherine receives a Christmas gift from her mother, Deysi, at the Unbound Christmas party in El Salvador.
Christmas parties for sponsored friends and their families are made possible through donations to the Christmas Fund. Donate today.
By Henry Flores, director of the Unbound communications center in El Salvador
Henry Flores records sponsored members playing soccer in Mexico.
During a filming trip to the Dominican Republic, the director for the shooting told me, “I want to portray the sponsored members, the poor, in a way that describes who they really are. I know what the world tells me the poor are, please tell me what they are not!”
Our general conception of those living in poverty has been modeled by what we have seen or read, creating for many a preconceived image of the poor. After 20 years working with poor people and communities in many countries, I can tell you they are not what we´ve been told.