Kenya is a hub for a surprising sport — speed skating. But it’s not the kind on ice that you might be more familiar with because of world-renowned athletes like Apolo Ohno. This is the kind on wheels that happens in bumpy alleyways and paved roads, and is growing in popularity among Kenyan youth.
For kids across the globe of all ages, the ability to participate in sports from a young age provides great opportunities for learning, discipline and independence. With education at the forefront, Oscar, a 12-year-old sponsored boy in Kisumu, Kenya, was able to start speed skating as a result of the freedom that Unbound sponsorship provided him and his family.
By Regina Mburu, communications liaison for Unbound in Africa
Heavy rains pounded Nairobi, Kenya, in May of this year, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake.
Some families were rendered homeless while others lost their belongings. As they waited for the rains to stop, the corridors of a nearby school became their home once dusk fell.
Unfortunately, families served by Unbound in the small village of Rongai were among those affected.
“I would walk by what I used to call home and I could feel my knees get weak,” Jane, a mother of a child sponsored through Unbound, said. “I lost household belongings that I had worked so hard to buy.”
Education opens up opportunities in life, especially when entering the job market. And for a child living in poverty, a good education can become the means by which she lifts her family out of poverty. But education isn’t a guarantee for much of the world, and for many children it’s a luxury their family might not be able to afford.
In many of the countries where Unbound works, families are often required by the schools to pay for things like textbooks and cover additional fees, or families of school-age children view education as a low priority compared to other needs of the family.
In some families, children and youth may be expected to leave school at a young age so they can work to provide additional income or help take care of younger siblings. These families are faced with the decision of sacrificing their child’s education in favor of feeding the family and keeping a roof over their heads.
Taste of tradition
Nancy gets ready to enjoy a bowl of mukimo, a traditional Kenyan dish of mashed vegetables, which she makes for her family. Nancy’s 17-year-old son, David, is sponsored through Unbound.
Unbound sponsor Sandra “Blue” Michel traveled to Kenya in February on an Unbound Awareness Trip. She joined Unbound as a sponsor seven years earlier, after doing extensive research to choose an organization to partner with.
Unbound’s director of sponsor experience, Mary Geisz, traveled to Kenya for the first time on an Unbound awareness trip, where she was rewarded beyond expectation.
By Ismael Kwenga, a former sponsored member
When a sponsored member leaves the program, especially after completing their education, it marks a new chapter in their lives. Sometimes Unbound is part of that new chapter, like when a former sponsored member takes on a staff position, but other times their lives take a different path.
That’s why it’s always a great joy to hear from former sponsored members about what they are doing after leaving the program. We received the following letter from Ismael in Meru, Kenya, updating us about his future plans. He left the program last year after completing his college degree. And though he is no longer part of the Unbound program, his story is a testimony to the lasting impact sponsorship can have on someone’s life.