An Unbound sponsor stands just outside a bamboo door of a small dwelling in a village in the central Philippines. She has traveled thousands of miles to be there after months of anticipation. Her sponsored child and his parents wait just inside the small house, smiling their welcome.
Feeling excited and nervous, the sponsor steps through the door and into the home, somehow knowing that her world is about to be forever changed.
On Dec. 8, Pope Francis stood outside an ancient set of doors in St. Peter’s Basilica, surrounded by hundreds of people. Performing a ritual dating back to the 14th century, the pope solemnly pushed the ornate doors open and walked through, officially inaugurating the Holy Year of Mercy.
Tristan John Cabrera, communications liaison for Unbound in the Philippines, visits the Cagsawa Ruins near Mt. Mayon, Philippines.
By Tristan John Cabrera, communications liaison in the Philippines
Unbound in the Philippines has five offices and more than 50,000 sponsored members, including children, youth and elders. As communications liaison for the Philippines, I cover stories from the region through text, photos, audio and video. To be able to effectively cover the whole region, a correspondent network was created. It’s composed of sponsored students and Unbound scholarship holders who have an interest in writing and photography. They receive basic training in journalism and photography, and I encourage them to submit story ideas that could inspire the Unbound community.
Malou Navio (center), coordinator for Unbound in Antipolo, speaking at a parent leader training session.
In our Antipolo program in the Philippines, like in many of our Unbound communities around the world, staff members represent a leadership style we call Gentle, Balanced Leadership or GBL, which supports not only their fellow coworkers, but also extends to the families they serve. Staff members in Antipolo worked together to create this reflection outlining how GBL manifests itself in their program.
“With this form of leadership, we believe the pilgrim family of Unbound will continue at a sustainable pace to be a liberating force of love in our world today.” — Bob Hentzen, co-founder of Unbound
Unbound’s Antipolo teams work with 8,400 families in marginalized urban, rural and indigenous communities. The families are organized into small neighborhood groups called kapitbahayans. More than 1,000 parents of sponsored children are leaders in their communities.
This statue is one of the many life-size depictions of Christ displayed in the annual Lenten procession in San Mateo, Philippines.
Tristan John Cabrera, communications liaison for Unbound in the Philippines.
By Tristian John Cabrera, communications liaison for Unbound in the Philippines
Tristan John Cabrera is based out of our Quezon office. The Philippines is a predominately Catholic nation, and staff members from our Quezon office celebrate Lent together. Tristan offers his reflections on what Lent means in the Holy Year of Mercy.
For this Holy Year of Mercy, Pope Francis has said, “Mercy is the heart of God. It must also be the heart of the members of the one great family of his children: a heart which beats all the more strongly wherever human dignity — as a reflection of the face of God in his creatures — is in play. Jesus tells us that love for others … is the yardstick by which God will judge our actions.”
Ariel, 21, a former sponsored member and current staff member in the Philippines.
A healthy dose of community, perseverance and hope go a long way in combatting the daily struggles of those facing poverty. Unbound’s sponsorship program prescribed that remedy for Ariel from the Philippines.
Billy and Mary Lou from Arizona sponsored Ariel when he was just 7 years old, which unlocked a world of opportunity he never knew.
“I had faced a lot of hindrances in my life, many problems, trials and conflicts,” Ariel said. “Problems in family and school made me strong and responsible enough to stand up on my own.”
From left: Sponsored elder Florfina and moms Eliza and Lorna learned about hablon weaving.
Woven into every sponsorship story are personalized solutions to overcome poverty and get ahead.
That story is no different for Eliza from the Philippines. Her 20-year-old son, Christian, has been sponsored through Unbound since 2004. But with seven other children at home, getting ahead in life remains a challenge. Their family’s only income comes from her husband’s farming.
Eliza is able to send Christian to school with the support his sponsors, Janet and Tim from Kansas. She also uses the sponsorship support to supplement her family’s nutritional and other daily needs.
The staff of Unbound’s Quezon program in the Philippines gathers after attending a seminar on earthquake preparedness.
Being prepared for natural disasters helps alleviate fear, avoid panic and minimize injuries, loss of life and property damage. That’s why the staff of Unbound’s Quezon program in the Philippines recently took part in a calamity preparedness seminar.
Jolita wears the cultural dress of the Dumagat indigenous community at a ceremony where she received recognition as one of 10 Outstanding Elders of the Philippines.
By Loretta Shea Kline, managing editor for Unbound
Sponsored elder Jolita helped three generations of women in the Dumagat indigenous community give birth. For her efforts, she received recognition as one of the Outstanding Older Persons of the Philippines.
Each year, Unbound get the chance to share some amazing photos of our work around the world. The stories and images of the families we serve are just one way we show our supporters how they’re making a difference. Here’s a selection of some of our Kansas City staff’s favorite photos from 2015.