Maria Angelica has grown up around nurses and hospitals.
Born almost three months early, she spent much of her first four years in the hospital before being diagnosed with kidney failure and a tumor in her liver. Though the doctors were able to remove the tumor, Maria Angelica’s health continued to worsen. She needed a new kidney, but the waiting list was long and knowledge about organ donation was almost nonexistent in Bolivia in the late 90s.
“It is too difficult to find a donor,” said Maria Elena, Maria Angelica’s mother. “When they went to sign up my daughter, she was number 600 on that list. It is very difficult; there is no awareness to donate organs here.”
Autism affects one in 68 children, and it’s one of the fastest growing developmental disorders in the last 20 years.
April is Autism Awareness Month — a month dedicated to educating the public about autism and helping to create a safer, happier world for those challenged by this disorder. Unbound sponsorship offers support to families around the world who are impacted by autism.
Ulises is a 22-year-old sponsored youth who has autism. He lives in Costa Rica with his mother, Marjorie, who takes care of him.
“My dream is that one day he would do things on his own, so he would be independent when I’m no longer with him,” Marjorie said.
By Elizabeth Alex, community outreach and media relations director
Down syndrome is a diagnosis no mother hopes to hear.
For parents living in the poorest barrios of Honduras, it is sometimes just too much to bear.
“The doctor told me it would be different and difficult to raise her,” Rosa said about Dayani, her 15-year-old daughter with Down syndrome. “There are no schools and no help for children with special needs.”
By Elizabeth Alex, community outreach and media relations director for Unbound
The United Nations has designated Wednesday, Nov. 19, as a day to talk about toilets.
At first glance it may seem an odd topic to dwell on for a day. Most people don’t spend a lot of time thinking about toilets.
Unless you happen to be one of the people without access to one.
According to the United Nations, almost 2,000 children die every day from preventable diarrheal diseases.
By Martin Kraus, director of finance for Unbound
“You must become the change you want to see.”
As I walked through the Mumbai airport in India, I couldn’t help but notice this quote on a huge banner hanging overhead. Most of us, whether from India or not, easily recognize this quote as being from Mahatma Gandhi, one of India’s most influential and respected leaders. What struck me are the many ways in which I am privileged to see Gandhi’s quote being put into action all over the world.
At Unbound, our sponsors take this quote to heart by taking action. Their sponsorship allows them to “become the change” that this world so badly needs, and in doing so, they make significant changes in the worlds of others. Recently, while performing an audit of Unbound’s office in Manila, Philippines, I met two beautiful examples.
by Alexandra Stonestreet, project manager for Unbound
In recent years, Honduras has become known for corruption, gang violence and drug trafficking. It holds the unfortunate distinction of being home to some of the worst statistics imaginable. Amid the poverty and mounting violence, a bright spot emerges.
His name is Fernando.
Joseph, 22, is a sponsored student in Kenya. When he was 2, Joseph’s parents noticed that he wasn’t able to do some of the same things other children his age could. By the time he was 3, he was unable to walk or move around.
His parents took him to a local hospital, where he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that impairs movement and is caused by brain damage during development.
Joseph underwent surgery to help straighten his legs. He also received physical therapy and used crutches for some time. In all, he spent four years in the hospital being treated for his condition.
Joseph was finally able to join primary school at the age of 7. He was one of the best students in the class.
Joseph’s parents found it hard to get by with Joseph’s medical expenses, four children in school and no steady income. Unbound staff in their area learned of the family’s situation, and in 2002 Joseph was sponsored. The support he received from his sponsor meant his parents could continue paying for his education.
Joseph’s schooling, however, was interrupted in fourth grade when he had to have another surgery.. He spent another year in the hospital, which meant he had to repeat fourth grade. Despite the difficulties, he continued to excel when he returned to school and even managed to score highly on the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education.
With his high scores, Joseph received a scholarship from the Jomo Kenyatta Foundation, which combined with his sponsorship benefits meant his parents could send him to a better secondary school.
The first secondary school Joseph attended wasn’t the best fit. His condition made it difficult for him to write, which made it hard to keep up with the other students. But it was the negative treatment he received from some of his classmates that was the biggest challenge.
Seeing his struggles, Joseph’s parents decided to transfer him to a school that specialized in teaching students with disabilities. Being among others who faced similar challenges boosted Joseph’s self-confidence.
Joseph recently graduated secondary school with good grades, and plans to pursue a degree in business administration from Kenyatta University. While he waits to get into the university, Joseph puts his time to good use.
He volunteers at his old primary school teaching math and Kiswahili, and he helps out at the Unbound office near his home.
When giving advice to younger students, he keeps it simple. “Disability is not inability,” Joseph said. “Work hard and stay focused.”
Donations to Health help provide equipment and therapeutic devices to sponsored friends with disabilities, along with many other health related initiatives.
Juan Jose is your typical 13-year-old. He lives with his mom and grandmother in Antioquia, Colombia. He attends school, loves hanging out with his friends and has dreams of becoming a famous Olympian.
But Juan Jose has a little secret.
He only has one kidney. It keeps him from playing contact sports, like football, basketball and soccer, with his friends.
Instead of letting this hold him back, he channels his energy and efforts into swimming.
“I love to swim now!” he said. “I like swimming because we get resistance and we work out with all the muscles. I feel that I am free, and I have discovered that I am a good and fast swimmer.”
Through his chosen sport, Juan Jose has overcome other medical problems.
“I have asthma but I do not give up when I have competitions and I continue until I finish. I always want to be the best despite my health limitations,” he answered when asked about any obstacles in his life.
Even though training is from 6 am to 8:30 am, Juan Jose still said, “I enjoy training because it has helped me to get my health problems under control.”
Though he is a shy boy, his grandmother remarked that he is “disciplined and a fighter for his dream [of reaching the Olympics] and does not care about his health limitations.” Like most grandmothers, she is incredibly proud of him and his accomplishments.
With his most memorable moment listed as signing up for a swimming league, Juan Jose has even bigger dreams for the future. He hopes to “have the chance to represent my town in other cities. Maybe someday I will have the chance to participate in the Olympic Games to represent my country.”
We here at Unbound will be rooting for you, Juan Jose!
Contributions to Health help support many services, including therapeutic services for sponsored friends with special needs. Donate today!
Here at Unbound, we know kids are amazing. They’re a large part of why we do what we do. Eleven-year-old Jennifer from Colorado is showing just how awesome and innovative kids can be.