Category: Africa

Liva Rajaonarisina, program coordinator in Antsirabe, Madagascar presents at Unbound's Global Insight Series on March 29 in Kansas City.
Apr 12 2017

‘Closer and closer to the families’

Antsirabe program coordinator shares how benefits are distributed in Madagascar

Liva Rajaonarisina, program coordinator in Antsirabe, Madagascar presents at Unbound's Global Insight Series on March 29 in Kansas City.

Liva Rajaonarisina, program coordinator in Antsirabe, Madagascar presents at Unbound’s Global Insight Series on March 29 in Kansas City.

Liva Rajaonarisina is Unbound’s program coordinator in Antsirabe, Madagascar. With experience working in mission work, translation and employee training, Liva has worked for Unbound as program coordinator since 2008.

Unbound has 37 projects in the 19 countries where we work. The projects serve as regional hubs in areas where sponsored members live, and are the coordinating centers for community-based programs that span the area. Each of these hubs is led by a coordinator who helps guide and manage the Unbound program in that area.

At both Unbound’s Global Insight Series on March 29 and at an employee-wide presentation the next day, Liva shared about the benefits of sponsorship in Madagascar. Benefits are distributed in two primary and effective ways — cash distribution and a livelihood program called “Market Market.”

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Toby the dog.
Apr 10 2017

Pets of Unbound

Fuzzy faces bringing joy worldwide

Tomorrow, April 11, is National Pet Day. This annual celebration encourages adoption from local shelters and is also a good time to reflect on the benefits of having a pet. Not only can it teach children responsibility, but caring for a pet can also teach love, compassion and respect for nature. We’re celebrating by sharing some of the many wonderful photos we’ve received of sponsored members with pets and other animals.
Gloria, the mother of a sponsored child in Colombia, gives the family cat, Chepe, a big hug. Despite what some may think about cats, he does seem to be enjoying the attention.
Gloria, the mother of a sponsored child in Colombia, gives the family cat, Chepe, a big hug. Despite what some may think about cats, he does seem to be enjoying the attention.
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The three project coordinators speaking on a panel.
Apr 3 2017

Global Insight Series features staff from Africa and Asia

More than 100 gather to listen and learn

The three project coordinators speaking on a panel.

The inaugural edition of the Unbound Global Insight Series March 29 at our headquarters in Kansas City unfolded as an evening of discovery, an opportunity to listen and learn from three program coordinators visiting from India, Madagascar and the Philippines.

Saritha Mendanha, Liva Rajaonarisina and Risa Vereña shared insights on our programs and the innovative ways that sponsorship provides opportunities for families around the world.

Unbound has 37 projects in the 19 countries where we work. The projects serve as regional hubs in areas where sponsored members live, and are the coordinating centers for community-based programs that span the area.

Each of these hubs is led by a coordinator who helps guide and manage the Unbound program in that area. Unbound’s co-founder Bob Hentzen once described these staff members as “saints with talent.” Those attending last Wednesday’s event got a glimpse of what Bob meant.

Read on for a photo essay depicting the event, and stay tuned next week for three more blog posts on topics presented by Saritha, Liva and Risa. What they shared reflects the program innovations in their countries and shows that their work holds true to one of our most important organizational values — that we, as sponsors and staff, are students of the families we accompany in overcoming poverty.

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Veronica serves up a bowl of soup.
Mar 29 2017

Cooking up a business

Veronica serves up a bowl of soup.

Veronica serves up a bowl of soup.

It’s often said that the journey is more important than the destination. Veronica’s story demonstrates that sometimes the destination is pretty nice, too.

Veronica lives in Kenya. Widowed at a young age, with two young sons to support, her life was a struggle.

“It was very difficult,” she said. “My husband died when the boys were still very young. Food, clothes, shelter, everything was hard to come by. Looking back, I do not know how I made it through. I had to go back to my rural village, because I had no means to make ends meet. I had no one to depend on. I felt alone.”

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Sponsored elder Bernard (center) joins Unbound Kenya communications liaison Regina Mburu (left), and Larry Livingston (right). Bernard, who is blind, was featured in a previous blog post.
Mar 27 2017

Old insights from a new place

Sponsored elder Bernard (center) joins Unbound Kenya communications liaison Regina Mburu (left), and Larry Livingston (right). Bernard, who is blind, was featured in a previous blog post.

Sponsored elder Bernard (center) joins Unbound Kenya communications liaison Regina Mburu (left), and Larry Livingston (right). Bernard, who is blind, was featured in a previous blog post.

By Larry Livingston, senior writer

I recently traveled to Kenya. My main reason for going was to meet people sponsored through Unbound and listen to their stories. I also wanted to meet members of our staff in Kenya and learn how they work with the families.

Since I’ve returned, several people have asked me what I learned from the trip. I have a hard time answering that question at this point, mostly because I need time to sort out my memories, feelings and insights. Like last year’s Christmas tree lights, they’re going to take a while to untangle before they can be illuminated.

Besides, as I get older I find that the most meaningful insights I take away from travel experiences aren’t new. Rather, they’re reminders of universal truths that I had either forgotten or, perhaps, taken for granted. Those insights are always more about people than things. They’re also, in a way, about God.

Here are some ‘old’ insights I took from my trip to Kenya.

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An elderly woman in Kenya fills a vessel with water.
Mar 22 2017

On World Water Day, how sponsorship can help provide clean water

Kenyan elder saves up to install water access at her home

An elderly woman in Kenya fills a vessel with water.

Doris, a sponsored elder in Kenya, displays the water fixture she had installed after saving up her sponsorship benefits.

In 1993, the United Nations designated March 22 as World Water Day. It’s an occasion to spread awareness about the global water crisis and work toward the goal of all people having access to safe water by 2030.

In Unbound’s programs in Latin America, Africa and Asia, clean water is something that a number of families access with the help of their sponsorship benefits.

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Two elderly men in El Salvador play guitar and sing together.
Mar 3 2017

Celebrating arts and culture in Unbound — part 1

Sponsored youth, elders express themselves in art

Two elders in El Salvador play guitar and sing together.

Juan (left), who has since passed away, sings while another sponsored elder, Francisco, accompanies him on the guitar.

The world is host to a myriad of cultures and traditions, and in the Unbound community we have the opportunity to learn about ways people around the world express culture, history and faith. From poets to musicians to participants in nationwide celebrations, people sponsored through Unbound eagerly share their talents and passions with the world. This is the first of a two-part blog series highlighting arts and culture in our community. Keep reading

Peter in Kenya displays some of the benefits he chooses from his Unbound sponsorship, including rice and soap. He says that benefits like this give him peace of mind.
Feb 3 2017

Loving the last chapters of life

Unbound celebrates elders around the world

Peter in Kenya displays some of the benefits he chooses from his Unbound sponsorship, including rice and soap. He says that benefits like this give him peace of mind.

Peter in Kenya displays some of the benefits he chooses from his Unbound sponsorship, including rice and soap. He says that benefits like this give him peace of mind.

Peter is a 68-year-old man in Kenya who is one of 30,000 elders around the world sponsored through Unbound. Like Peter, these men and women are pursuing better health and nutrition, stabilizing their incomes and enjoying newfound community among their fellow sponsored elders. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing stories of these inspiring aging friends around the world.

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Charles works on a garment that he will later sell.
Jan 27 2017

Fashioning a path forward

Kenyan dad proud to be a 'jack-of-all-trades'

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.”

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Peter holds a handful of the charcoal that he sells to sustain his family.
Jan 23 2017

Hard-working father of eight

Peter holds a handful of the charcoal that he sells to sustain his family.

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.”

But being a single father can be a tough job.

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