Maria Sabina and her son Ronny in their home in El Salvador.
The next time you are at a child’s birthday party and the kids are swinging wildly at a piñata, take a moment to think about Maria Sabina. That brightly colored donkey, fish or bird might just have been made by her own two hands.
The mother of a child in the Unbound sponsorship program, Maria Sabina lives with her husband and two sons in a village in north-central El Salvador. Her son Ronny, 10, has been sponsored by Jackie in Florida since 2012.
Maria Sabina belongs to the Unbound mothers group in her community. As in other locations throughout the Unbound world, her group provides a structure for the mothers of sponsored children to come together and offer each other moral and emotional support.
Myra (right) meets with sponsored child Sindy (center) and Sindy’s mom, Rosalina, and baby sister, Vivian, outside their home in Guatemala.
Myra is an exuberant, kind woman driven by a deep desire to make the world a better place. Born in Guatemala and raised in a strict but lovingly tight-knit family, her rigorous education has shaped her into a disciplined and focused individual. These traits make her a valuable member of the Unbound family.
“My greatest satisfaction is being with the people,” Myra said. “I have a personal desire to see others reach their potential. I believe that every day and every person that touches your life is a learning opportunity.”
Bryan, 12, from Guatemala.
Beaming with pride and a smile that constantly says, “I can do it,” 12-year-old Bryan enjoys a grand accomplishment for a boy his age.
For the third year in a row, Bryan has earned the distinction of being valedictorian at his grade school in Guatemala, a feat that is even more impressive when you consider only one student gets to have that honor each year.
Excelling at school might be difficult for a lot of students, but not many have faced the sort of obstacles that Bryan has had to overcome.
Gabriela, a sponsored youth and scholarship holder from Honduras.
Gabriela is the quintessential leader.
She excels in her studies. She coordinates a church group. And she’s a service scholar and mentor for other sponsored friends in Unbound.
But Gabriela hasn’t always been an all-around leader. She’s come a long way since she was first sponsored at 4 years old.
Cecilia, Josefina and Walter.
Seven years ago, Walter’s family grew a whole lot bigger when they requested 12 baby chicks as part of their sponsorship benefit from Unbound.
Walter and Cecilia live in Guatemala with their five children, including their 13-year-old daughter Josefina, who is sponsored through Unbound. After learning about Unbound through their niece, who is also sponsored, Walter and Cecilia approached Unbound to see if Josefina was eligible for the program.
Suyapa, a former sponsored child, now works as a nurse.
Growing up in Honduras, former sponsored child, Suyapa, saw the need in her community. She witnessed this in the struggles her mother and family faced.
Growing up, conditions were difficult for Suyapa and her family.
Karen Allemang, trip and volunteer manager for Unbound, on an awareness trip in Guatemala.
By Karen Allemang, trip and volunteer manager for Unbound
As concerns grow about the spread and potential effects of the Zika virus, some of our sponsors have asked whether Unbound will cancel any of our planned trips to the field. Many of these sponsors are traveling with Unbound on an awareness trip and are excited to meet their sponsored friend for the first time.
I am happy to say that we have no plans to cancel any of our upcoming trips.
As part of our standard procedures, the awareness trip coordinators and I monitor current events that could impact travelers. Here is some of the key information we are reading from the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding Zika virus:
- “Until more is known, CDC recommends special precautions for pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant.”
- “Pregnant women (should) consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.” Read more.
- A WHO committee advised on Feb. 1, 2016, “The Committee found no public health justification for restrictions on travel or trade to prevent the spread of Zika virus. At present, the most important protective measures are the control of mosquito populations and the prevention of mosquito bites in at-risk individuals, especially pregnant women.”
Regardless of what is or isn’t making headlines, we urge all our travelers to read the CDC’s Traveler’s Health page and speak with a medical professional regarding travel and their health. We provide information useful for that conversation such as the elevation of the areas they’ll visit and whether or not the lodging is air conditioned. We also require pregnant travelers to obtain medical clearance from their doctor in order to travel with us.
Many illnesses can be avoided by preventing mosquito bites. We refer travelers to the CDC’s Mosquito Bite Prevention PDF for guidance on preventing mosquito bites. A favorite prevention method of our team is using Permethrin to treat clothing as directed by the CDC.
If you have questions or would like more information about the trips Unbound offers, please visit unbound.org/trips or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Karen Allemang, trip and volunteer manager for Unbound
Ingrid (right) and her mother Maria in their home.
Ingrid lives in Guatemala, where, according to the World Bank’s source Barro-Lee, on average girls complete about six years of schooling. In 2015, she graduated as a certified bilingual education teacher. Luis Cocon, communications liaison for Unbound in Guatemala, had the opportunity to meet Ingrid and hear her story during her final year of school before graduation.
Angela, a sponsored elder in El Salvador.
Angela, or Angelita, as she’s called by her family and friends, is a sponsored elder in El Salvador. She’ll celebrate her 71st birthday in March, but has gone through a lot to get to such a distinguished age.
“My childhood was very humble,” Angela said. “My father worked the land; he worked in everything that he could find. We were nine siblings, seven boys and two girls. … We all stayed in one room. A friend of my family lent us that room and it was made of adobe.
“We were living in extreme poverty. That’s why my siblings and I never went to school. Instead we had to work. I collected firewood, carried water to my house and washed clothes in a river.”
Cristabel (right) with her family outside their home.
Cristabel has big dreams for the future. She wants to graduate from high school, go to college and, someday, teach kindergarten.
At 12-years-old, Cristabel still has many years of studying before achieving her dreams, but she takes things one day at a time.