Erastus holds vegetables from the small piece of land he farms near Nairobi, Kenya. Erastus’ mother would tell him, “When you are hardworking, you will always get something to do and make a living.”
He lost everything in the post-election violence in Kenya more than a decade ago. Yet 72-year-old Erastus keeps moving forward.
In his community outside Nairobi, Erastus works casual jobs and farms a small piece of land — growing fruits and vegetables and raising chickens. With his winsome smile and refrain of “I’m flexible,” a personal motto of sorts, it’s hard to conceive of all he’s been through.
The Unbound world is full of people gathering up their courage and taking risks in order to find success. Our sponsored friends and their families give us amazing examples of how we can all be at our best for each other. The following stories are about three women from the Unbound world who exemplify this strength and teach us what it means to be courageous.
The courage to be honest
Yomira, left, teaches Unbound scholarship students Gisela and Anjely about the record system used by the Lima office in Peru. The students work in the office to fulfill community service requirements of the scholarship program.
Yomira, 22, is a former sponsored child who is now a full-time Unbound staff member in Lima.
Growing up in a small community outside of Lima, Peru, Yomira and her peers were confronted with drugs, gangs, prostitution and alcoholism. Relying on the values of her strong family and a healthy sense of self-esteem, Yomira was able to avoid these pitfalls. She channeled her energy into dance, where she performed with a group at schools and public events.
Difficulties did come, however, when Yomira became pregnant at a young age. Since she had established good communication with her Unbound sponsor, she decided to share the news with her.
“At first, I thought, ‘I’ve lost everything.’ My parents were upset with me, and I thought she [my sponsor] was not going to continue being my sponsor; I really did not know what to do,” Yomira said. “But she wrote me and told me that she was going to continue supporting me.
It’s International Women’s Day March 8, so we’re sharing the stories of three remarkable Kenyan women. Women like these are the backbone of Unbound programs, demonstrating the strength and courage it takes to create real change for their families and communities.
Making her own decisions
People in her community didn’t take Elizabeth seriously when she started her business carrying passengers to school and work on the back of her bicycle.
They said it was man’s work and questioned whether she was strong enough. That was more than 10 years ago.
“At first they doubted me and would not let me carry them, but with time I have been accepted,” she said.
Elizabeth shows off the bike she relies on for her livelihood.
Mothers across the world are unlocking their entrepreneurial spirit of with support from Unbound’s sponsorship program.
Margaret, Mariam and Jane, three women from Kenya, have explored opportunities to get ahead through agriculture. For Margaret and Jane, small loans from their Unbound mothers group helped them make their livelihoods a reality. Mothers groups comprise parents of sponsored children, including some dads. Together, the members of the group provide support and encouragement as they face trials of living in poverty.
While each woman has pursued a different agricultural venture, they’ve all been able to take another step in their journey toward economic self-sufficiency.
Margaret feeds her chickens. She’s seen her poultry farm grow thanks to a small loan from her mothers group.
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.
- Vincent, an Unbound program coordinator in India, wears a shirt with traditional Kenyan prints that he received as a gift while visiting Nairobi.
- Vincent and Seema visit a tailor shop and learn about the livelihood of a family in Nairobi.
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.
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.
Selvaraj takes notes as Nairobi program evaluation team presents on how they conduct program evaluations at their office.
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!
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.
Seema, center, takes a picture with her fellow Indian coordinators and staff members from Uganda.
“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.
- Sponsored youth Brigit from Kenya recites an original poem.
- A snippet from Brigit’s handwritten poem.
April is poetry month, and what better way to celebrate than by sharing a poem written by someone sponsored through Unbound?
Brigit is a 15-year-old sponsored youth from Kenya. She’s been reciting poems in school since first grade, which helped her develop an interest in writing her own poetry. Once sponsored, her poems were often inspired by Unbound.
“The support from the program has enabled me to see life differently, with a great meaning, thanks to Unbound,” Brigit said.
Brigit’s been sponsored by Karleen from Indiana since 2012. She wrote the following Unbound-inspired poem when she was just 13 years old.
Tomorrow, April 11, is National Pet Day. This annual celebration encourages adoption from local shelters and is also a good time to reflect on the benefits of having a pet. Not only can it teach children responsibility, but caring for a pet can also teach love, compassion and respect for nature. We’re celebrating by sharing some of the many wonderful photos we’ve received of sponsored members with pets and other animals.
Gloria, the mother of a sponsored child in Colombia, gives the family cat, Chepe, a big hug. Despite what some may think about cats, he does seem to be enjoying the attention.
See more photos!
Veronica serves up a bowl of soup.
It’s often said that the journey is more important than the destination. Veronica’s story demonstrates that sometimes the destination is pretty nice, too.
Veronica lives in Kenya. Widowed at a young age, with two young sons to support, her life was a struggle.
“It was very difficult,” she said. “My husband died when the boys were still very young. Food, clothes, shelter, everything was hard to come by. Looking back, I do not know how I made it through. I had to go back to my rural village, because I had no means to make ends meet. I had no one to depend on. I felt alone.”