Lennen, a 15-year-old girl in the Philippines, smiles as she reads through letters and cards from her sponsors, Melvin and Mary in Pennsylvania.
This month we’ve been exploring the value of letter writing here on the blog. The big question is, why write? And we’ve answered with a myriad of reasons that are less about paper and postage and all about human connections and encouragement. Keep reading
As 2016 comes to an end, we reflect on the past year with a lot of gratitude. Every one of our sponsors and sponsored friends has played a tremendous role in making a big impact around the globe. We’re happy to report that, in 2016 alone, we’ve disbursed more than $105.3 million in field support to our programs around the world, a one-year record! Keep reading
Loretta Shea Kline, a sponsor and Unbound managing editor, writes a letter to her friend, Dinesh, in India.
By Loretta Shea Kline, managing editor at Unbound
I write for a living and know the hardest part of writing anything— this blog post, a story for our Living Unbound magazine or a letter to my sponsored friend — is getting started.
We tell sponsors all the time that writing to their sponsored friends is easy. While tools such as mailing labels and eLetters make the process of sending a letter easier, crafting words to go on the paper or screen is never easy.
Mercy is proud to show off the fruits of her and her husband’s work on their farm.
Mercy from Kenya is 29 years old, married and has three children. Mercy and her husband work hard to provide for their children along with Mercy’s younger sister, who she began caring for after her parents passed away.
“I take care of my sister, Caren,” Mercy explains. “My parents died a while back. I am the first-born in a family of six. I am charged with the responsibility of taking care of my siblings.”
Mercy takes this responsibility very seriously, but her and her husband struggled to provide for their own children and had difficulty paying Caren’s school fees on time.
“Each time I saw her chased away from school because of [a lack of] school fees, it hurt me a lot,” Mercy said. “I did not want her going through what I did. I had dropped out of school in class 8, because I had no one to help me pay my school fee.”
Parents of sponsored children from the northern Isabela Province in the Philippines make fertilizer to sell to local farmers. These parents have joined together to create SANKAPACO Cooperative. SANKAPACO is a combination of three words: Sagana, which means rich, Kaagapay, which means standing for each other or helping hand and pag-unlad, which means progress.
The impact of sponsorship ripples beyond just a monthly monetary transaction from sponsors to sponsored friends.
A group of 36 sponsored families from Isabela, located in the northeastern-most part of the Philippines, has banded together to create a fertilizer cooperative. They sell the fertilizer to generate income as they challenge poverty daily.
They began the cooperative in August 2015 with less than $40 of capital. That was all they needed to start the process of mixing all the right materials to create an affordable fertilizer they could sell to the many farmers in their community.
The sponsored families decided to create a fertilizer cooperative because Isabela is one of the country’s major crop producing areas for foods like rice and corn.
After his father left three years ago, Brayan and his family were in a tough situation. His mother, Lucretia, had to leave then 8-year-old Brayan at home with his older sister for long periods while she worked far away to pay off a bank loan. Fortunately, Brayan heard about Unbound from a friend at school who was sponsored.
“I told my mother and she was able to reach the office and talk to the coordinator,” Brayan said. “I have now been sponsored for three years. I had to wait for about a year to find a sponsor.”
Carlos outside his home in Guatemala. He rents a room constructed of corrugated metal for the walls and roof and concrete for the floor.
Carlos, 73, dreams of returning to college to finish his education. He started studying when he was young, but the need to earn money at a young age to help his family kept him from consistently attending classes after primary school.
“I would ride my bicycle over a narrow dirt road for an hour to get to school,” Carlos said. “It was good exercise, I was in good shape. I had strong legs. Then I worked for years in a carpenter’s shop and at a gas station.”
Sponsored member Vaishnavi (center) in Hyderabad, India, celebrates the holiday spirit with her parents.
At Christmas, many people give charitably in honor of a loved one instead of giving traditional Christmas gifts. For a family member who doesn’t want more stuff, or a friend who loves the idea of sponsorship but is unsure about the financial commitment, giving the gift of sponsorship is a beautiful way to celebrate.
When the popular jewelry shop Kendra Scott hosted a Kendra Gives Back event last year at their Kansas City location, the result was 12 Unbound scholarships going to support young adults in Merida, Mexico. One of those young adults is Joyce.
Joyce, an Unbound scholar in Mexico, studies psychology at a university.
“Unbound has been a very important part of my development,” Joyce said. “… [Unbound] has taught me how to be more independent and know who I am as a person.”
After she graduates, Joyce would like to set up workshops and conferences for youth struggling with issues such as lack of self-esteem and addiction, and provide resources to help them overcome their challenges.
More young people like Joyce will benefit from Unbound scholarships as a result of this year’s Kendra Gives Back event held on Nov. 22.
More than 70 people popped in to the Kendra Scott store in Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza between 6 and 8 p.m., when 20 percent of all proceeds went to Unbound Education to provide scholarships for students pursuing higher education. With a raffle for a $50 gift card, there was extra incentive to visit the store, but call-in orders were also welcomed and counted toward the total contribution.
Within just two hours, the event raised $639 for Unbound Education, almost doubling last year’s total.
So far this year, Kendra Scott has donated more than $2 million to charities through these types of events. Thank you so much to Kendra Scott and especially Hayley Keown, community relations and event manager for the Plaza location who sets up these events for organizations around Kansas City. And a big thank you to all those who participated in Kendra Gives Back with Unbound.