At 77 years old, Josefa has aches and pains, but she knows exactly how to find joy.
For some Unbound families, there are more obstacles to receiving an education than just the cost. For 18-year-old Yami, it has been a struggle to complete her education because her family lives in a remote, mountainous village in El Salvador.
After finishing the 9th grade, Yami temporarily stopped attending school. The nearest high school is hours away, and the transportation cost and distance became too overwhelming for the family.
The trek to the highway is an hour walk or a 40-minute horseback ride. It goes along a deserted path and across a river. On top of all this, it’s not safe for Yami to travel alone, so her father, Jaime, accompanies her.
However, she is determined to finish school.
For Romelia, the answer to the age-old question about which came first, the chicken or the egg, is simple. It was the chicken, with the egg following close behind. And, just in case you’re wondering what came third, the answer is the sweater.
As we move closer to the observance of National Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, I think of how I strive to honor my history, my culture. As a native Dominican, having lived most of my life in the United States and in large Latino communities, I never gave much thought to the annual celebration of Hispanic heritage, since how every day I was fully aware and living among my people.
I’ve lived in Los Angeles, New York and Miami Beach, and though I’ve been in the Midwest for nearly a quarter of my life now, my lifelong personal mission remains to better educate myself about the history and the complexities of what it means to be from the Dominican Republic. Both my B.A. and M.A. degrees resulted from this strong desire to gain more knowledge about the European (Spanish), African and Taino bloodlines that make up Dominicans, and in most of my pursuits, I search for contributions from underrepresented voices.
Maria joined the Unbound community in 2011, when she was sponsored by Gary from Missouri. The support from Unbound has been a great boost to her health and quality of life.
Now, in his role as a social worker with Unbound in Guatemala, Anibal works with 322 children and their families to support them and be part of their lives.
“I understand their struggle and can be sort of a role model for them,” he said.
Anibal credits his family, his sponsors (Dennis and Mary in Illinois) and the Unbound staff for making it possible for him to graduate from high school.
Ambrocia learned how to embroider when she was just 10 years old.
“My neighbor Emilia showed me the skills,” Ambrocia said. “I remember her words, ‘Learn because you never know when it may come in handy.'”
And at the age of 47, this Guatemalan mom is using the skill she learned all those years ago from a kind neighbor to support her family.
Local Unbound program staffs discovered early on that small peer groups were ideal for building trust and an environment of mutual support within a larger community. They found that the ideal size was about 25 members — large enough to feel empowered but small enough to maintain a sense of intimacy.