Category: India

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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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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An image of a woman wearing an Unbound Trailblazer shirt.
Nov 13 2017

The change one shirt can make

Representing Unbound on the Notre Dame Trail

An image of a woman wearing an Unbound Trailblazer shirt.

Sponsor Lisa Hendey on the fifth day of the Notre Dame Trail, a 320-mile walking and biking journey in Indiana.


By Lisa M. Hendey, founder of CatholicMom.com and Unbound sponsor

When I applied up to be a “core pilgrim” for the Notre Dame Trail, I had no idea how my life would be impacted by the simple act of walking. Having spotted information about the 320-mile pilgrimage being undertaken by my alma mater in honor of the university’s 175th anniversary, I decided to go for it and apply.

One special day in the fall of 2016, I received a package letting me know that I’d been selected. Included was an intense training schedule. Suddenly, reality set in: Could I, a 54-year-old non-athlete, be ready to cover that distance in time?
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An image of Unbound Program Coodinator Vincent Murmu.
Jul 31 2017

Exchange Trip to Africa 2017

Indian coordinators' reflections from Africa, part 3


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.

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.
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An image of Unbound staff taking notes.
Jul 29 2017

Key learning points

Indian coordinators' reflections from Africa, part 2

An image of Unbound staff taking notes.

Selvaraj takes notes as Nairobi program evaluation team presents on how they conduct program evaluations at their office.


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.

Nairobi:

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!
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An image of Indian and Ugandan Unbound staff members.
Jul 24 2017

My observations from visiting Nairobi and Kampala

Indian coordinators' reflections from Africa, part 1

An image of Indian and Ugandan Unbound staff members.

Seema, center, takes a picture with her fellow Indian coordinators and staff members from Uganda.


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.

“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.
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Saritha Mendanha, program coordinator in Hyderabad, India, presents at Unbound's Global Insight Series on March 29 in Kansas City.
Apr 5 2017

Guiding students toward success in India

Hyderabad program coordinator shares about youth programs

Saritha Mendanha, program coordinator in Hyderabad, India, presents at Unbound's Global Insight Series on March 29 in Kansas City.

Saritha Mendanha, program coordinator in Hyderabad, India, presents at Unbound’s Global Insight Series on March 29 in Kansas City.

Saritha Mendanha is Unbound’s program coordinator in Hyderabad, India. With two master’s degrees, in social work and counseling & psychotherapy, Saritha has worked for Unbound for eight years. She began as the program coordinator in Chennai in 2009 and took on the same role in Hyderabad — Unbound’s largest project in India — in 2012.

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 earlier in the week, Saritha shared about the innovative programs happening in her project in Hyderabad. With an emphasis on guiding and mentoring young adults, the Hyderabad program is finding unique — and fun — ways for sponsored children and young adults to find their path in life.

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The three project coordinators speaking on a panel.
Apr 3 2017

Global Insight Series features staff from Africa and Asia

More than 100 gather to listen and learn

The three project coordinators speaking on a panel.

The inaugural edition of the Unbound Global Insight Series March 29 at our headquarters in Kansas City unfolded as an evening of discovery, an opportunity to listen and learn from three program coordinators visiting from India, Madagascar and the Philippines.

Saritha Mendanha, Liva Rajaonarisina and Risa Vereña shared insights on our programs and the innovative ways that sponsorship provides opportunities for families around the world.

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. Unbound’s co-founder Bob Hentzen once described these staff members as “saints with talent.” Those attending last Wednesday’s event got a glimpse of what Bob meant.

Read on for a photo essay depicting the event, and stay tuned next week for three more blog posts on topics presented by Saritha, Liva and Risa. What they shared reflects the program innovations in their countries and shows that their work holds true to one of our most important organizational values — that we, as sponsors and staff, are students of the families we accompany in overcoming poverty.

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Claudia, right, with sponsored child Josesuan, center, and her mother, Evelin.
Mar 20 2017

Love crosses all cultures

Unbound staff member reflects on lessons from travels

Claudia, right, with sponsored child Josesuan, center, and her mother, Evelin.

Claudia, right, with sponsored child Josesuan, center, and her mother, Evelin.

By Claudia Vázquez-Puebla, outreach volunteer director for Unbound

Thirty-three years ago, my father made the decision to move our family from Zacatecas, Mexico, to the U.S. Having four daughters and a son, he wanted all of us to have an opportunity to get an education and have better options for our futures.

Many generous people guided and cared for us as we were welcomed into schools and communities in Oklahoma and Kansas. This afforded us opportunities to earn college degrees and work in careers focused on giving back to our communities.

In the last four years, I’ve had the opportunity to travel with Unbound to Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, the Philippines and, most recently, India. All of these countries are characterized by vibrant cultures, patriotism, passionate Unbound staff and, most importantly, sponsored members overcoming poverty. The families that I met have grounded me spiritually and challenged me to think about my needs versus my wants. These are important lessons that have reminded me of my own journey out of poverty.

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