Sponsored elder Bernard (center) joins Unbound Kenya communications liaison Regina Mburu (left), and Larry Livingston (right). Bernard, who is blind, was featured in a previous blog post.
By Larry Livingston, senior writer
I recently traveled to Kenya. My main reason for going was to meet people sponsored through Unbound and listen to their stories. I also wanted to meet members of our staff in Kenya and learn how they work with the families.
Since I’ve returned, several people have asked me what I learned from the trip. I have a hard time answering that question at this point, mostly because I need time to sort out my memories, feelings and insights. Like last year’s Christmas tree lights, they’re going to take a while to untangle before they can be illuminated.
Besides, as I get older I find that the most meaningful insights I take away from travel experiences aren’t new. Rather, they’re reminders of universal truths that I had either forgotten or, perhaps, taken for granted. Those insights are always more about people than things. They’re also, in a way, about God.
Here are some ‘old’ insights I took from my trip to Kenya.
Doris, a sponsored elder in Kenya, displays the water fixture she had installed after saving up her sponsorship benefits.
In 1993, the United Nations designated March 22 as World Water Day. It’s an occasion to spread awareness about the global water crisis and work toward the goal of all people having access to safe water by 2030.
In Unbound’s programs in Latin America, Africa and Asia, clean water is something that a number of families access with the help of their sponsorship benefits.
Juan (left), who has since passed away, sings while another sponsored elder, Francisco, accompanies him on the guitar.
The world is host to a myriad of cultures and traditions, and in the Unbound community we have the opportunity to learn about ways people around the world express culture, history and faith. From poets to musicians to participants in nationwide celebrations, people sponsored through Unbound eagerly share their talents and passions with the world. This is the first of a two-part blog series highlighting arts and culture in our community. Keep reading
Peter in Kenya displays some of the benefits he chooses from his Unbound sponsorship, including rice and soap. He says that benefits like this give him peace of mind.
Peter is a 68-year-old man in Kenya who is one of 30,000 elders around the world sponsored through Unbound. Like Peter, these men and women are pursuing better health and nutrition, stabilizing their incomes and enjoying newfound community among their fellow sponsored elders. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing stories of these inspiring aging friends around the world.
Charles welcomes customers to his tailoring business.
Charles works on a garment that he will later sell.
When hit with a tragedy, the idea of moving forward can be daunting. For 62-year-old Charles from Kenya, his wife’s passing meant learning how to function without his life and business partner.
Raising 14 children and grandchildren together, including their 13-year-old granddaughter, Lucy, who is sponsored through Unbound in 2011, Charles and his wife knew they had to maintain steady sources of income. His wife had opened a small tailoring shop, and Charles started working with her after he lost his position as a supervisor in a sugar company nearly 20 years ago.
“I had taken my wife to a tailoring school and she had learned to make women’s clothes,” Charles said. “I learned from a friend how to make men’s clothes. … We made a strong team.”
Peter holds a handful of the charcoal that he sells to sustain his family.
Peter, from Kenya, is 48 years old and a single father of eight children. Peter supports his family through a charcoal business, which he was able to expand with the help of the Unbound mother’s group to which he belongs, and support from the sponsorship of two of his children.
“I had two wives,” Peter said. “One wife died while giving birth to our daughter. … [My second wife and I] had a conflict, and she walked away from our children and me. I have since adjusted and decided to take up life as a single father.”
But being a single father can be a tough job.
Thomas, an elder sponsored through Unbound, proudly holds some of the yields of his new poultry business.
When Thomas in Kenya was sponsored through Unbound five years ago at the age of 64, he set his sights on becoming an entrepreneur.
Lennen, a 15-year-old girl in the Philippines, smiles as she reads through letters and cards from her sponsors, Melvin and Mary in Pennsylvania.
This month we’ve been exploring the value of letter writing here on the blog. The big question is, why write? And we’ve answered with a myriad of reasons that are less about paper and postage and all about human connections and encouragement. Keep reading
Mercy is proud to show off the fruits of her and her husband’s work on their farm.
Mercy from Kenya is 29 years old, married and has three children. Mercy and her husband work hard to provide for their children along with Mercy’s younger sister, who she began caring for after her parents passed away.
“I take care of my sister, Caren,” Mercy explains. “My parents died a while back. I am the first-born in a family of six. I am charged with the responsibility of taking care of my siblings.”
Mercy takes this responsibility very seriously, but her and her husband struggled to provide for their own children and had difficulty paying Caren’s school fees on time.
“Each time I saw her chased away from school because of [a lack of] school fees, it hurt me a lot,” Mercy said. “I did not want her going through what I did. I had dropped out of school in class 8, because I had no one to help me pay my school fee.”
One of the ways we’ve been celebrating our 35th anniversary is by hearing from sponsored friends and staff around the world. We asked them how Unbound has changed them, what their favorite thing about being sponsored is or what greeting they have for us at this milestone. We’ve featured 35 snapshots of our global community over the past several weeks right here on the blog. Check out the final set of snapshots in the series below, and check out previous posts in the series here!
Check out the snapshots