Unbound staff member reflects on lessons from travels
Claudia, right, with sponsored child Josesuan, center, and her mother, Evelin.
By Claudia Vázquez-Puebla, outreach volunteer director for Unbound
Thirty-three years ago, my father made the decision to move our family from Zacatecas, Mexico, to the U.S. Having four daughters and a son, he wanted all of us to have an opportunity to get an education and have better options for our futures.
Many generous people guided and cared for us as we were welcomed into schools and communities in Oklahoma and Kansas. This afforded us opportunities to earn college degrees and work in careers focused on giving back to our communities.
In the last four years, I’ve had the opportunity to travel with Unbound to Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, the Philippines and, most recently, India. All of these countries are characterized by vibrant cultures, patriotism, passionate Unbound staff and, most importantly, sponsored members overcoming poverty. The families that I met have grounded me spiritually and challenged me to think about my needs versus my wants. These are important lessons that have reminded me of my own journey out of poverty.
Sponsored child Irene (right) and her mother Susan stand in front of a church after the Santo Niño parade.
In the Philippines, the Santo Niño Festival is celebrated with many replicas of the small child of Jesus statue.
Individual creativity in the Unbound community is rich, as we saw in last week’s story. The community traditions and celebrations also run deep, telling the stories of ancestors and faith through dance, parades and other ceremonies. Keep reading
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.
Unbound's commitment to gentle, balanced leadership
Sponsored children of various religious backgrounds in Zamboanga, Philippines, come together to celebrate the Week of Peace in that city in November 2016.
The residents of Zamboanga, Philippines, set aside time every year to focus on one important thing: peace.
During the Week of Peace celebration in November, people of all ages come together to celebrate diversity and call for harmony. In a place where conflict is long-standing between rebel groups and the government, the people of Zamboanga are a strong symbol of what it truly means to accept and love one another, finding strength among their differences.
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.
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.
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
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.
We’re so honored that more than 1,000 people celebrated 35 years of service with us on Saturday, Nov. 19 at our Global Block Party. Located at our headquarters in Kansas City, the party was packed with sponsors, neighbors, employees and founding families. The day was a meaningful symbol of the growing Unbound community in Kansas City and around the globe.
Over the course of the crisp, fall afternoon, guests learned about Unbound’s unique model through a staff-created exhibit about our work, listened to speakers and performers, and visited with staff and family members of our founders. From a KC drill team to African traditional dancers, performances were running throughout the event, reflecting the colorful cultures of Unbound from Kansas City to around the globe. Check out some photos from our big day.
Parents of children sponsored in the Philippines turn tree branches into a crepe paper Christmas tree.
Close your eyes and picture a Christmas tree. If you’re from the United States, there’s a good chance you pictured some type of fir tree covered in baubles and topped with a star. And while there are plenty of firs in North America, they’re scarce in places like the Philippines, especially when looking for ones with the iconic conical shape.
But families of sponsored friends in the Philippines don’t let that scarcity stop their holiday cheer. Using recyclable materials, several families created their own Christmas trees and decorations.