Category: Asia

Sponsored child Ronald, 11, receives an emergency food packet from Amelia, a parent volunteer leader who was assisting families after flooding in San Mateo, Rizal, Philippines.
Aug 14 2018

Disaster report

Heavy rains bring flooding to Philippines


Intense rains caused severe flooding in and around Manila, Philippines, Aug. 10-12, impacting about 3,500 families served by Unbound in Metro Manila and the neighboring Rizal Province.

Local Unbound staff reported significant property damage and crop losses, and some homes were destroyed. At this time, the staff has reported one death, that of the mother of a sponsored girl. The child’s sponsor has been notified by our Sponsor Services team.

In times of natural disaster, Unbound contacts sponsors personally if we learn that their sponsored friends or immediate family members have been killed or seriously injured. Communications are often disrupted in the aftermath of such events, and it may take several days or longer to get pertinent information. Unbound serves more than 46,000 children, youth and elders in the Philippines.

Multiple landslides brought on by the intense rains made travel hazardous in Rizal. Malou Navio, coordinator of Unbound’s program in Antipolo, reported that one group on their way to an evacuation center was nearly caught in a landslide, but escaped uninjured.

Navio also said that groups of Unbound fathers who’ve been specially trained for disaster response have been mobilized in their communities. These “ERPAT” groups have become an invaluable part of local rescue efforts in the flood-prone Philippines.

Sponsored child Ronald, 11, receives an emergency food packet from Amelia, a parent volunteer leader who was assisting families after flooding in San Mateo, Rizal, Philippines.


Unbound staff members are also offering assistance. They’ve brought food supplies and other relief goods to evacuation centers. Some of them have also been affected by the floods.

“What adds struggle to people affected by flooding was the thick mud that goes with the floodwater and enters their homes,” said Unbound’s communication liaison in the Philippines, Tristan John Cabrera.

Lingering monsoon rains exacerbated by Tropical Storm Karding, known locally as Yagi, moved through the island of Luzon Aug. 11. Rivers in low-lying parts of the metropolitan area were quick to rise over their banks and into streets, homes and businesses.

According to Cabrera, large numbers of people in the Metro Manila area were stranded in their homes or unable to get back to them. They were reluctant to venture out because of the high risk of illnesses caused by contact with the fetid waters, but some had no choice.

“There are a lot of people stranded on sidewalks,” Cabrera said in a report Saturday. “Transportation is almost unavailable. So they just walk, trying to look for at least a tricycle or motorcycle that could bring them closer to their homes. I also observe some vehicles offering a ride for stranded people. … They don’t care if they get wet because of the rain just to reach their home right away and be with their families. I witness how people help one another during times like this.”

Because the island nation gets more than 20 severe storms a year, our programs there set aside some sponsorship funds for emergencies. The number of families affected by this emergency, however, will put a strain on those resources, and it’s likely additional funds will be needed to help families recover. The typhoon season lasts until November, though severe storms also occur at other times of the year.

What you can do

  • Donate to Disaster Response. Unbound’s Disaster Response fund provides assistance to families in the aftermath of events like the flooding in the Philippines.
  • Make sure your contact information is up to date. In times of natural disaster, Unbound notifies sponsors personally if we learn that their sponsored friends have been injured, so keeping your information up to date is important.
  • Pray. The Unbound community holds all those affected and those assisting with emergency response efforts in our thoughts and prayers.
  • Check here for updates. We’ll continue to provides updates as we receive additional information following this emergency and other storms.
This photo of flooding caused by Typhoon Henry in the Philippines was taken by the mother of sponsored child.
Jul 20 2018

Philippines bulletin update: Typhoon Henry


Typhoon Henry caused severe flooding as it approached the Philippines on July 17, causing 29 families served by Unbound’s Antipolo program to seek refuge at evacuation shelters. Knee-deep waters have been reported in the area, and some homes of sponsored families have significant water and mud damage. The Unbound ERPAT Disaster and Management Team, mothers groups and local staff served porridge to sponsored families and other evacuees at one evacuation site. The ERPAT, a federation of fathers who participate in the Unbound program, is following the situation closely and is standing by to assist sponsored families if their situations worsen. In times of natural disasters and other emergencies, Unbound will notify sponsors directly if we learn that their sponsored friends have been injured or otherwise seriously affected. We will continue to provide updates on the situation as we receive information from the Philippines. Unbound serves more than 46,000 children, youth and elders in the Philippines.

Jun 16 2018

Celebrating heroic dads

Happy Father's Day from Unbound

Louie in the Philippines takes part in his local Unbound parents group.

For many, our dads are our first heroes. Whether it’s squishing spiders or lifting us up high on their shoulders, dads sometimes seem like they can do anything.

As we grow older, our dads become more human than superhero, but that doesn’t make us want to celebrate them any less. There are myriad examples of heroic dads within Unbound, whether their heroism is more on an everyday basis in their role as fathers or in more extreme situations such as natural disasters.
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Jun 13 2018

Philippines update after Typhoon Domeng


On June 10, tropical depression Domeng developed into a typhoon as it approached the Philippines. While the most destructive parts of the storm have moved beyond the Philippine islands, the storm was followed by monsoon rains, which have the capability to cause severe flooding and landslides. Roads in some areas of the northern Philippines were impassable, and the mobility of families served by Unbound’s Legazpi program and areas of the Antipolo program has been impacted by the flooding. In times of natural disasters and other emergencies, Unbound will notify sponsors directly if we learn that their sponsored friends have been injured or otherwise seriously affected. We will continue to provide updates on the situation as we receive information from the Philippines. Unbound serves more than 46,000 children, youth and elders in the Philippines.

Vincent Murmu and Rose Muiruri present at Unbound's Global Insight Series.
May 12 2018

An investment in mothers that makes sense

Updates from Unbound's Global Insight Series

By Gustavo Aybar, communications field liaison coordinator

One of the smartest ways to help a child is to invest in a mom.

That was a central message at our third event in the Unbound Global Insight Series, which brought program coordinators Vincent Murmu from India and Rose Muiruri from Tanzania to share their perspectives as frontline staff.

Audience members listen to Unbound’s Andrew Kling, community outreach and media relations director, as he introduces speakers for the spring 2018 Global Insight Series at Unbound’s international headquarters in Kansas City.


The April 25 event at our Kansas City headquarters drew 193 people, while more than 2,500 online users participated via Facebook Live. The evening included presentations by each guest speaker, a question-and-answer portion and a “reverse” Q&A, in which the speakers had a chance to ask questions of the audience.

The coordinators’ accounts illustrated the benefits of entrusting the mothers of sponsored children to make program decisions. These women develop, sharpen and then utilize essential life skills to sustain their families, and they have endured and overcome obstacles that many would describe as insurmountable.
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Crisanta directs traffic for the City of Tabaco,located near Mount Mayon in the Philippines.
Apr 14 2018

It takes courage

Three determined women show what it means to lead

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.
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Asma demonstrates how her water filtration system works.
Mar 17 2018

Mom provides filtered water to her community in India

Asma demonstrates how her water filtration system works.


By Gustavo Aybar, communications field liaison coordinator

What I remember most about visiting my home country of the Dominican Republic as a child centers around lack of access to clean, fresh, hot water. Life in the DR was very different and less comfortable than life in the United States. For example, I discovered there was considerable money, time and energy involved in having water readily available. I still remember the day as a 10-year-old I saw my “crush” walking toward me, lugging a full gallon of water in each hand, having recently visited the watering hole for her family.

As World Water Day approaches on March 22 and people everywhere ponder the issue of clean water, I wanted to share how one woman I met in India, Asma, and her family combat the problem of access to potable water. Asma, her husband, Jaleel, and their son and daughter welcomed my coworkers and me into their home in Hyderabad, which they rent from a friend. The home also functions as the facility for the small mineral water plant the family started just a few years ago.

The U.N.’s World Water Day organization said 2.1 billion people around the world lack access to safely managed drinking water services. In addition, an estimated 1.8 million people get their drinking water from an unimproved source, with no protection against contamination from human waste, the U.N. said.

Contaminated and polluted water is a huge problem in India. Sewage, garbage and other waste discharged into lakes and rivers are contributors. Unsafe practices by factories also poison the water with chemicals and toxins.

These realities make Asma’s role a vital one. The water business allows her to do fulfilling work that provides an important service to the community.
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Feb 10 2018

A celebration of ‘togetherness’

Indian family surprises St. Louis couple with a traditional wedding ceremony

Jeff Smith, Amy Benoist and their sponsored friend, Sravanthi, pause for a photo outside Sravanthi’s home in India. Jeff and Amy visited Sravanthi as part of an Unbound Awareness Trip.


When Amy Benoist and Jeff Smith of St. Louis got married in 2015, little did they know they’d have a second wedding just two years later — in India.

A sponsor through Unbound since 2012, Amy had planned to visit her sponsored friend, 19-year-old Sravanthi of India, as soon as she was able to save up the vacation time. In October of last year, she and Jeff set out on an Unbound Awareness Trip to meet Sravanthi and experience the beauty of India together.

Amy had written to Sravanthi six months earlier to let her know she and Jeff were planning to visit. That’s when Sravanthi’s family got the idea to surprise the couple with a traditional Indian wedding ceremony.
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Ash cloud from Mount Mayon, Philippines.
Jan 23 2018

Families in Philippines anxiously wait as Mayon Volcano threatens to erupt


On Wednesday, the Mayon Volcano on the island of Luzon in the Philippines continued to spew lava and ash, signifying that a major eruption may be imminent.

“Almost every five hours, Mayon Volcano is erupting with lava fountains and spewing mushroom-like ashes,” said Unbound staff member Klaire Perez. “The ashes are being carried by the wind to the southern part of Albay [province]. Yesterday, I was home and I had experience of one of the worst ashfalls. It suddenly went dark and it literally started raining ashes. It’s a bit scary, but it’s more scary for communities just below Mayon Volcano.”

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has set the threat level at 4, the second highest, and more than 56,000 people living in the area have now been evacuated, according to news reports. As of Friday, the evacuees included at least 193 families served by Unbound’s program in Legazpi, coordinator Angie Bermas said. But with the widening of the evacuation zone to a 5-mile radius over the weekend, the number has likely increased.

The volcano is in the Albay province in the Bicol region, in the east-central part of the island. Flights in and out of Legazpi have been canceled, and schools throughout the province are closed.
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Jan 13 2018

Our house dances with the wind

Realities of Poverty series: The life of a squatter family

This is the first in a series of stories focusing on the challenges of finding adequate, affordable housing in the economically developing world. It originally appeared in the Winter 2017 edition of our print publication Living Unbound.

An image of a squatter village in Metro Manila, Philippines.

Sponsored child An-An and her family live in this flood-prone squatter village. The high-rise buildings of Manila loom nearby but are, in some ways, a world apart.


The United Nations estimates that at least one in eight people living on Earth today resides in a slum. A high percentage of those are squatters, dwelling without permission or legal protection on land they don’t own. Left with little or no choice, some erect makeshift housing on public properties, some occupy abandoned buildings and some inhabit any space they can find. Most live in extreme poverty and are, for all practical purposes, ignored by their local governments.

Calvary Hill is a street that winds along the banks of the fetid Ermitaño Creek in the heart of metropolitan Manila. This is a squatter village and, as the name suggests, it’s a place of hardship. A row of ramshackle dwellings stacked two, three and sometimes four or more stories high stretches around the creek bend and out of view, like a house of cards made from a thousand crumpled, mismatched decks.
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