Category: Community

An image of a woman biking in a park.
Aug 21 2017

A rite of passage turned passion to help Unbound

Reflection from an Unbound Trailblazer

An image of a woman biking in a park.

Jessica Wooden wears her Trailblazer shirt while biking in a Kansas City park.


By Jessica Wooden, online children coordinator and Unbound Trailblazer

I still remember Christmas of 1998, when I was 5 years old. I came into the living room of my grandparents’ house and there it was. A new bike. The handlebars had a foam cover, adorned with grapes. The paint was a shimmering purple. It was beautiful and, more than anything, it was mine.

Riding a bike. I have to admit that the thought of doing this again as I got older scared me at first. The fearless 5-year-old who would get right back up after she had fallen had somehow left me. Regardless, I did try riding again, and it now means so much more to me than it ever did before.
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An image of a home in El Salvador.
Aug 19 2017

‘The families are the reason I continue’

Serving as a social worker in El Salvador's gang-afflicted cities

An image of a home in El Salvador.

A home in El Salvador, typical of the homes Carmen and other Unbound social workers visit on a regular basis.



To celebrate the U.N.-sponsored World Humanitarian Day Aug. 19, Unbound is highlighting inspiring members of our global community who’ve overcome obstacles to help others. Carmen is from El Salvador and works for Unbound as a social worker in 11 communities in Santa Ana, with more than 200 sponsored children and their families. She started with Unbound seven years ago, learning about the organization while working as a caretaker for a sponsored elderly woman. Carmen and her husband have a 16-year-old daughter.

In this interview, conducted by Naresli Calitto, former communications liaison, Carmen shares about her experience working for Unbound amidst the challenges of life in El Salvador. Her name was changed for safety reasons.

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An image of Sonia wearing her Family Defense group vest.
Aug 14 2017

‘No longer afraid’

Peruvian mom works to prevent domestic violence

An image of a family of women in Peru.

Sonia (center), with her daughters, Lady (left), Heydi (right) and baby Luna. Lady is sponsored by Mary in Indiana and Heydi is sponsored by Edward in Nebraska.

By Corbett McKinney, student intern

To celebrate the U.N.-sponsored World Humanitarian Day Aug. 19, Unbound is highlighting inspiring members of our global community who’ve overcome obstacles to help others. In Peru, a tenacious mother named Sonia helps others by participating in the local Family Defense group, organized through our program in Lima.

Living in a rocky, dusty city south of the capital, Sonia is the mother of three girls, two of whom are sponsored through Unbound. She’s fiercely proud and protective of her girls. Lady and Heydi are her older children, who are sponsored. Her youngest daughter, Luna, is an infant. Together with her husband, daughters and the family dog, Sonia transforms their modest home into a joyful space filled with noise and laughter.

Sonia’s life wasn’t always so happy.
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An image of a Guatemalan woman holding a microphone.
Aug 7 2017

Understanding one young Mayan woman’s experience

An interview with a former sponsored member

An image of a Guatemalan woman holding a microphone.

Former sponsored member Selica Piloy shares her experiences as an indigenous Guatemalan woman at an event at Unbound’s international headquarters in Kansas City.


The U.N. has designated Aug. 9 International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. According to Dictionary.com, indigenous means “originating in and characteristic of a particular region or country.” In simple terms, an indigenous person is one whose ancestry is based in the country and region in which they are born.

According to the U.N., there are an estimated 370 million indigenous people living in 90 countries across the world. With that kind of diversity, the experiences of one indigenous group might vary greatly from the experiences of another. There are some common experiences, however, such as maintaining strong connections to tradition and community, and facing the challenges of discrimination and lack of opportunity. How these experiences develop depend on the country, region and even sometimes the gender of an indigenous person.

At Unbound, we focus on the individual to understand their distinct needs and goals. To gain a better understanding of what it’s like growing up as an indigenous person, we interviewed Selica Piloy, a former sponsored member from Guatemala who’s attending college in the United States and just finished a summer internship at Unbound’s international headquarters in Kansas City. Selica, 21, is getting ready to start her sophomore year at Cottey College in southern Missouri, where she’s pursuing a degree in international studies.

Selica is part of the Kaqchikel Mayan community in Guatemala. She’s passionate, bright and articulate in describing her experience as an indigenous woman.
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An image of Unbound employee Abby Melgren wearing a Trailblazer shirt.
Aug 5 2017

Mark your calendars!

Upcoming events in the Unbound community!

An image of Unbound employee Abby Melgren wearing a Trailblazer shirt.
Unbound’s Global Insight Series: Latin America

Join us at our Kansas City headquarters on September 13 for an evening of discovery with Unbound’s program coordinators from Bolivia, Guatemala and Honduras. They’ll share insights on our programs, with stories on the challenges families in their regions face and how sponsorship benefits are customized for each family.

Global Insight Series: Latin America
Wednesday, September 13, 2017 — 5:30-8 p.m., program begins at 6 p.m.
Unbound HQ — 1 Elmwood Ave., Kansas City, KS 66103

Visit unbound.org/insightseries to RSVP. The event is free, but space is limited.

Trailblazers at the Omaha Marathon

Unbound Trailblazers will be running and walking to raise awareness about Unbound at the Omaha Marathon, Half, 10K and 5K on September 17.

Interested in joining? The Omaha Marathon’s flat course and variety of distances provide a chance to challenge yourself as you step up and challenge poverty. You don’t need to be a competitive athlete to walk or run, you just need to possess a desire to change one life for good. You can even take part in a cheer section along the race route, if running or walking isn’t for you.
Visit our Trailblazer website or email outreach@unbound.org to join us in Omaha and learn more about getting involved as an Unbound Trailblazer.

Unbound Awareness Trips

In August and September, there will be a total of six awareness trips. Travelers will be visiting their sponsored friends in Honduras, Kenya, Uganda, Chile, Nicaragua and Guatemala. Please keep these travelers in your thoughts and prayers.
Interested in going on a future trip? Check out unbound.org/trips to learn more information and see all our trip dates for the next year.

An image of Unbound Program Coodinator Vincent Murmu.
Jul 31 2017

Exchange Trip to Africa 2017

Indian coordinators' reflections from Africa, part 3


Recently three of our program coordinators from India traveled to Kenya and Uganda to see how the Unbound program works in those countries. They had the opportunity to learn from their African coworkers and to experience the realities of families in Kenya and Uganda compared to India. This final reflection is from Vincent Murmu, the program coordinator for our Dumka office in India.

It is indeed exciting to visit the Unbound family on another continent. I, along with Seema,the coordinator in Chennai, and Selvaraj, the coordinator in Bhagalpur, and under the able leadership of our project director Amanda Heter from Unbound Kansas, had the wonderful opportunity to visit two Unbound projects in East Africa – Nairobi, Kenya and Kampala,Uganda.

It is like a dream come true landing on another continent. My eyes were fully opened with curiosity and excitement.
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An image of Unbound staff taking notes.
Jul 29 2017

Key learning points

Indian coordinators' reflections from Africa, part 2

An image of Unbound staff taking notes.

Selvaraj takes notes as Nairobi program evaluation team presents on how they conduct program evaluations at their office.


Recently three of our program coordinators from India traveled to Kenya and Uganda to see how the Unbound program works in those countries. They had the opportunity to learn from their African coworkers and to experience what poverty looks like in Kenya and Uganda compared to India. This second reflection is from Selvaraj P., the program coordinator for our Bhagalpur office in India.

Nairobi:

First of all, I congratulate the Nairobi Team for their cordial welcome and family spirit. The Nairobi team is composed of knowledge and experience, and they are excellent teachers and possess great communication skill. The love and excitement they bring to the program is a treat to watch and emulate. Team spirit, program focus, talent recognition, people centered policies and excellent leadership at the top level are some of the keys to their success. It is a team on the move with great attitude and commitment. Keep up the good work you do for the poor!
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An image of Indian and Ugandan Unbound staff members.
Jul 24 2017

My observations from visiting Nairobi and Kampala

Indian coordinators' reflections from Africa, part 1

An image of Indian and Ugandan Unbound staff members.

Seema, center, takes a picture with her fellow Indian coordinators and staff members from Uganda.


Recently three of our program coordinators from India traveled to Kenya and Uganda to see how the Unbound program works in those countries. They had the opportunity to learn from their African coworkers and to experience what poverty looks like in Kenya and Uganda compared to India. This first reflection is from Seema Mohan Kumar, the program coordinator for our Chennai office in India.

“It is not sufficient simply to have an experience in order to learn. Without reflecting upon this experience, it may quickly be forgotten, or its learning potential lost. It is from the feelings and thoughts emerging from this reflection that generalisations or concepts can be generated. And it is generalisations that allow new situations to be tackled effectively.” — Graham Gibbs

I’ve taken a lot of positivity from this experience and a lot of learning too. Nairobi and Uganda was not what I had expected, and though we had to strictly take yellow fever shots, not all the places are filled with mosquitoes. The two African countries I’ve visited have been full of happiness. I have gained some life experience. Now I have changed more and I had to take the long road to re-examine my view of my community. Education in Kenya and Uganda was noticeably taken very seriously and it’s the key for their future.
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An image of a girl in traditional Guatemalan clothing riding a bike.
Jul 17 2017

This is what makes Unbound different

An image of a girl in traditional Guatemalan clothing riding a bike.

Sponsored child Merlyn, 12, enjoys riding her bike in the streets around her home in Guatemala. Merlyn’s parents, like others in the Unbound program, have a voice in choosing the benefits that best serve their family’s needs.


The stories in our recent issue of Living Unbound are about the innovative ways that your sponsorship helps people around the world, delivering personalized benefits that give families the means to lift themselves out of poverty.

What you may not see is how exceptional these solutions are. Unbound is leading the way toward a new kind of service. The programs that you support look first to the wisdom and the creativity of the people we all serve. Conditional cash transfers help families take charge of their own lives. Parent groups provide opportunities for members to take microloans to start businesses and change whole communities.

And these methods work. Contrary to the myth that giving people money makes them lazy, research around the world shows that conditional cash transfers like the ones Unbound employs have positive long-term impacts. Children stay in school longer, their overall educational and health outcomes improve and they grow up to get better jobs.

Together, you and the rest of the Unbound community of sponsors provide opportunity.
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An image of a nearly empty room in an apartment in Medellin.
Jul 15 2017

The cold of loneliness

Unbound staff member reflects on moving from El Salvador to Colombia

An image of a nearly empty room in an apartment in Medellin.

A room in Henry’s apartment in Medellin on one of his first nights there.


By Henry Flores, communications liaisons director

My family and I moved to Colombia, South America, from El Salvador about one year ago. We wanted to give our children a new international education experience and Unbound had an open position for a communications liaison in the country. It was a great opportunity for Unbound, my family and me.

I decided to come in advance of my family to make a path, find a place to live, get life organized, etc. While moving within one’s own country isn’t easy, it still allows for the same social, economic and cultural structure. Moving to another country is a completely different scenario.

When I moved to California, U.S.A., back in 1989, I arrived in a Salvadoran community. I had my relatives, Salvadoran restaurants, food, markets and traditions that were familiar to me. I felt part of my own culture and idiosyncrasy; I had a network. Here in Colombia, I’ve only met one Salvadoran in my new city of Medellin.

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