Letter writing is an important aspect of Unbound’s sponsorship program. Not only do we require sponsored members to write at least two letters a year to their sponsors, we encourage sponsors to write back. We frequently hear from sponsored members how much getting letters from their sponsors means to them. Sometimes those letters have the ability to change lives.
But when sponsored friends are between sponsors, they don’t have anyone to write to or receive letters from. When sponsors must discontinue their support, their sponsored friends continue to participate in the program and receive assistance while Unbound tries to find new sponsors for them.
Currently, we have more than 5,000 children, youth and elders waiting for new sponsors. Some of them have only been waiting a couple of months, while others have been waiting a couple of years. They’re missing out on a huge part of the Unbound program experience.
Manish spent a good part of his childhood stationed outside the East Gate of India’s famed Taj Mahal.
By the age of 5 he was working long days peddling trinkets: bracelets, beads or cheap keychains.
Selling on the streets is dangerous work for little kids. They can become easy prey for thieves or victims of speeding cars and motorcycles.
But Manish had little choice. He is the youngest of seven. His father works, but doesn’t make enough money to feed every child in the family.
Happy Mother’s Day from Unbound! As you get ready to celebrate your mom on Sunday, take a moment to check out all these amazing moms from around the world. They are overcoming great odds to give their children better futures.
And don’t forget to share your Mother’s Day photos with us on Monday. Post a photo on Instagram of your mom or a photo of you with your mom, tag @Unboundorg and use the hashtag #MotherMonday.
Children and teenagers living in poverty don’t often get the chance to participate in organized sports. Participation fees and equipment costs add up, making sports a low priority for families struggling to afford basic necessities. So when Unbound staff in Hyderabad, India, organized the Bob Hentzen Memorial Sports Day, more than 1,500 kids sponsored through Unbound showed up for the event.
For Sarita Mendanha, program coordinator for Unbound in Hyderabad, the sports day is “extremely important to the India program because it builds team spirit, … [a] winning attitude [and] pride to carry away specially designed awards.” She also views the sports day as a way to build rapport between Unbound staff and the families they serve.
The day consisted of 15 different track and field events, such as tug of war, sack races, the traditional Indian game kho kho, shot put, discus throw and 100, 200, 400 and 800 meter dashes. Unbound staff had help from scholars and the participants’ mothers, and sports professionals were on hand to referee.
By Elizabeth Alex, community outreach and media relations director
Sushela comes from the lowest, poorest caste in Indian society. Traditionally they have been forced to sweep the streets and clean other people’s latrines by hand. Under the caste system, Sushela shouldn’t be allowed to attend religious festivals alongside her social superiors. She could never be invited to their homes. It would be unthinkable for a person of her caste to share a cup of tea with the next one up.
Add the fact she was forced into marriage as a teenager to a man she didn’t know, expected to cook and clean for his family and was isolated under the less-than-loving supervision of her mother-in-law, you might believe Sushela leads a miserable life.
She is 4 years old and full of giggles. She sings. She counts to 10 in English. She listens to songs and then creates dances to go with them.
Her name is Jaishikha. She is nothing short of precious.
Jaishikha lives with her mom, dad and baby brother in a small, dark room in a crowded Indian slum.
Her parents struggle. Neither had the opportunity to go to school. Jaishikha’s father works hard in a hair and nail salon, but doesn’t make enough money to meet the family needs for shelter and food.
Despite their difficult life, Jaishikha smiles. All the time.
“We want her to be educated and successful,” said her mom, Reena. “My only dream is for my child to get a proper education so she will be proud.”
Editor’s Note: Since this post was published, Jaishikha has been sponsored. Click here to view other children still waiting for a sponsor.
In 2010, the United Nations declared the first week in February as World Interfaith Harmony Week. For 2015, the focus is on promoting religious and inter-religious actions for sustainable development. At Unbound, we build relationships of mutual respect and support that bridge cultural, religious and economic divides. Shruthi and her family are just one example of this philosophy in action.
With bright eyes and a warm smile, 13-year-old Shruthi carries herself with confidence.
She’s had a sponsor through Unbound since she was in the second grade. She’s in ninth grade now.
“It was the happiest feeling, I remember, when I was told that there is another family far away who is sponsoring me,” she said. “I learned gradually what sponsorship is about.”
Today in the United States we celebrate mail carriers and thank them for their work. In honor of this day, we’d like to say thank you to all those in the U.S. and around the world who help deliver and send mail to and from sponsored friends. Because of you, relationships grow and friendships are formed. Thanks for all of your hard work!
To celebrate today, we’d like to give you a look behind the scenes at a letter’s journey from your sponsored friend. It all starts with a piece of paper and pencil …
Click here to follow the journey of a letter!
By Elizabeth Alex, community outreach and media relations director for Unbound
You meet some of the nicest people in a slum.
I learned that lesson the moment Kusma welcomed me into her home — a tiny, two-room place packed into a congested street — with the sounds of motorcycles, car horns, cows, food carts and the chatter of children joining the smells of exhaust, cow dung, dust and curry just outside her door.
The “door” is actually a few cloths draped in front of the entrance. The roof is a piece of tarp attached by some sticks and rope.
I met Kusma at the Unbound office in Agra, where she helps her mothers group raise money sewing shoe covers for visitors to the Taj Mahal. She invited me to visit any time.
Read more about Elizabeth’s visit