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.
John Harney from Arizona visits with his sponsored friends Juan and Karen on an awareness trip to Colombia in May 2017.
An Unbound Awareness Trip is the ultimate opportunity to see the work of Unbound firsthand. Whether you travel to meet your sponsored friend or simply experience the beauty of another culture, your experience on an awareness trip will be like no other.
We’ll be your guides all along the way on this affordable and exceptional experience. Sponsors and non-sponsors alike are invited to travel to any of the 14 countries we’re journeying to in 2018, or check out a trip later this year — there’s still time to sign up!
Maxensia shovels compost made from pig manure produced on her farm in Uganda. She uses it to fertilize her coffee plants. Maxensia’s son, Lawrence, 21, is sponsored by Albert in Washington.
Maxensia, a widowed mother of eight, tends to her coffee plants in a village in Uganda. Nearby, 11 pigs sunbathe in a sty built of rough wood.
At age 50, Maxensia has become an entrepreneur. Her pig farm is growing, and she also runs a small coffee farm.
After her husband died 17 years ago, Maxensia struggled to provide for her children’s basic needs. Her son, Lawrence, was sponsored in 2006, and she joined the Unbound support group for parents of sponsored children. Through the group, she got a boost toward economic self-sufficiency.
“I have gained a lot by being a member of the group,” Maxensia said. “I have been empowered to improve my life and that of my family.”
In Uganda, like in many other countries where Unbound works, parent groups serve as the foundation of the sponsorship program for children. When a child is sponsored, parents or guardians join the local group. They receive training from Unbound staff, save money by making small contributions to the group savings and gain access to loans. In parent groups, the impact of sponsorship is multiplied through the power of community.
Charles, father of a sponsored child in Uganda, displays freshly dried bricks, which he’ll soon sell to support his family.
It’s almost Father’s Day, and over the past weeks, we’ve been sharing the stories of inspiring dads in the Unbound community. Charles is a dad in Uganda who’s been working hard to make a good living to support his family. He took some time to share about his journey with Unbound communications liaison Regina Mburu.
Ndagire sets dishes on a drying rack after washing them. Her Unbound parent group taught her about the hygienic benefits of a dish rack.
As we’ve shared in blog posts over the last few weeks, Unbound’s highly personalized benefits are creating opportunity for families of all types around the world. In Uganda, parents of sponsored children are taking steps toward safety and health in their homes with the help of sponsorship.
Jane and her son, Jonah, who is sponsored through Unbound and has been cared for by many other mothers in the community.
From left: Annet, Sarah and Joyce, members of the Unbound mothers group who supported and cared for Jonah while his mother was away working.
“We are all family,” said Annet, a mother who chairs an Unbound parents group in Uganda. “We keep check of each other.”
It’s not a stretch to say that without this community care, 10-year-old sponsored child Jonah’s life might have turned out differently.
The families Unbound works with around the world face significant challenges in creating a better future for their children.
Fred, a sponsored elder in Uganda, uses his new water pump to spray his cow. He used his sponsorship benefits to purchase the pump, which helps him care for his livestock.
Many things set Unbound apart.
We’re the only major U.S.-based organization that offers sponsorship for elders. The communities we work with have created a small group model that provides support and accountability for the parents of sponsored children. We consistently achieve top ratings from charity evaluators, with more than 92 percent of our expenses going to program support. All of these things are supported by one of the most unique aspects of our program — highly personalized benefits.
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.
Liva Rajaonarisina, program coordinator in Antsirabe, Madagascar presents at Unbound’s Global Insight Series on March 29 in Kansas City.
Liva Rajaonarisina is Unbound’s program coordinator in Antsirabe, Madagascar. With experience working in mission work, translation and employee training, Liva has worked for Unbound as program coordinator since 2008.
Unbound has 37 projects in the 19 countries where we work. The projects serve as regional hubs in areas where sponsored members live, and are the coordinating centers for community-based programs that span the area. Each of these hubs is led by a coordinator who helps guide and manage the Unbound program in that area.
At both Unbound’s Global Insight Series on March 29 and at an employee-wide presentation the next day, Liva shared about the benefits of sponsorship in Madagascar. Benefits are distributed in two primary and effective ways — cash distribution and a livelihood program called “Market Market.”
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!