Category Archives: Central America

Apr 28 2017

Mothers invest in their children and community

Image = Emiliana and her daughter, Kenia, outside their home in Guatemala.

Emiliana and her daughter, Kenia, outside their home in Guatemala.

Mother’s Day is a special time for Unbound. It gives us an opportunity to celebrate the mothers in our lives and in our Unbound community.

Mothers are at the heart of the Unbound program. To put it simply, we believe in the wisdom of mothers. And honoring that wisdom is a key principle of how we operate.

In the countries where we work, mothers are most often the primary caregivers of their children. They work tirelessly to provide for their children the best opportunities for a happy, healthy life.

In a community in Guatemala, one expression of this care is a monthly neighborhood cleanup.

“We decided to do monthly cleanup activities because we wanted to have a nicer environment and we wanted to teach our children the importance of a clean community,” said mom Emiliana, whose 14-year-old daughter, Kenia, is sponsored through Unbound.

Emiliana leads an Unbound mothers group, in which 12 to 15 mothers of sponsored children gather monthly to discuss issues in their community, pray together and talk about their involvement in Unbound. She also serves as coordinator for the three additional mothers groups in her community.

The mothers work together to invest in their community and their children.

Each of the four mothers groups in Emiliana’s community clean a different area every month. They clean up roads, the town square, around the church and in neighborhoods. For communities where trash collection is haphazard, these cleanups significantly improve the health and beauty of the neighborhoods where the families live.

Image = Mothers in one Guatemalan community work together to improve their environment while mentoring their children.

Mothers in one Guatemalan community work together to improve their environment while mentoring their children.

But the cleanups aren’t just about neighborhood beautification.

These efforts are a way for the mothers to spend time with their children and model for them what it looks like to proactively invest in your community.

Emiliana says the activities have helped strengthen the bonds between mother and child and have been a great way for mothers to mentor teamwork and environmental consciousness in their children.

“I am happy because we are getting positive comments from our neighbors,” Emiliana said. “I think we are not only mentoring our kids, but also the rest of our community.”

As we prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day, we recognize the multitude of ways that mothers around the world invest in their children and communities. Their hard work, dedication and unrelenting service and sacrifice inspire us. We’re thankful to partner with innovative moms the world over who are working every day for a better future.

Visit unbound.org/moms to learn more about how we invest in mothers.

Ingrid (left), a sponsored youth in Guatemala, displays her high school diploma with her mother, Rosalinda, in front of their home.
Apr 26 2017

Inspired by a young woman’s wisdom

Staffer experiences essence of Unbound on Guatemala trip

Ingrid (left), a sponsored youth in Guatemala, displays her high school diploma with her mother, Rosalinda, in front of their home.

Ingrid (left), a sponsored youth in Guatemala, displays her high school diploma with her mother, Rosalinda, in front of their home.

By Stacy King, lead trip coordinator

As a member of the Unbound trips team, I’ve had the honor of traveling with sponsors and coworkers abroad, and meeting some awesome sponsored families. Many of the families have shared their beautiful and inspirational life stories, and hearing them never grows old. But every once in a while, a story will connect and touch my heart in a special way.

Keep reading

Toby the dog.
Apr 10 2017

Pets of Unbound

Fuzzy faces bringing joy worldwide

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.
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!

A sponsored elder in Guatemala plays with two dogs.
Mar 15 2017

Sponsoring elders gives us wisdom and perspective

A sponsored elder in Guatemala plays with two dogs.

Esteban, a sponsored elder in Guatemala, enjoys playing with his dogs .

Over the past weeks we’ve heard phenomenal stories of Unbound sponsored elders and their wisdom, joy and love.

We learned about Cristina in Guatemala, who returned to school at age 59, and Julia in Bolivia, who embodies love in how she cares for her husband. Eusebio in Guatemala shared his wisdom about embracing life, while Eustaquia in Mexico provided a lesson in ingenuity and care for the earth. Finally, Maria in Guatemala described the hardships of her life and how she has overcome them through faith.

Keep reading

Maria smiles while visiting with a guest. Though nearly deaf and blind, she is filled with joy in life.
Mar 10 2017

A heart of gratitude after a life of struggle

Guatemalan elder faces aging with joy

Maria smiles while visiting with a guest. Though nearly deaf and blind, she is filled with joy in life.

Maria smiles while visiting with a guest. Though nearly deaf and blind, she is filled with joy in life.


Aging is in part a process of letting go. Abilities once relied upon begin to fail. Possessions once treasured can be lost or taken away. Sometimes these diminishments are slow and graceful and sometimes swift and cruel. But, for all who live long enough, they are inevitable.

Yet, for all that, there is a blessing in the ability to come to terms with our own human frailty and mortality. There is grace in the realization that, in the words of poet Theodore Roethke, “body from spirit slowly does unwind, until we are pure spirit at the end.”
That is part of the wisdom of the aging. It is a wisdom reflected in Maria.

Read more

A young woman in traditional Guatemalan attire holds a necklace made with a historic coin.
Mar 6 2017

Celebrating arts and culture in Unbound — part 2

Sponsored members celebrate history and faith

Individual creativity in the Unbound community is rich, as we saw in last week’s story. The community traditions and celebrations also run deep, telling the stories of ancestors and faith through dance, parades and other ceremonies. Keep reading

Two elderly men in El Salvador play guitar and sing together.
Mar 3 2017

Celebrating arts and culture in Unbound — part 1

Sponsored youth, elders express themselves in art

Two elders in El Salvador play guitar and sing together.

Juan (left), who has since passed away, sings while another sponsored elder, Francisco, accompanies him on the guitar.

The world is host to a myriad of cultures and traditions, and in the Unbound community we have the opportunity to learn about ways people around the world express culture, history and faith. From poets to musicians to participants in nationwide celebrations, people sponsored through Unbound eagerly share their talents and passions with the world. This is the first of a two-part blog series highlighting arts and culture in our community. Keep reading

Sponsored elder Eusebio, 73, from Guatemala.
Feb 22 2017

Enjoying the benefits of restored health

Guatemalan elder finds new perspective on life

Eusebio enjoys some time outdoors with his "soulmate," wife Tiburcia.

Eusebio enjoys some time outdoors with his “soulmate,” wife Tiburcia.

Sometimes a person doesn’t realize how bad things have been until they begin to see how much better they can be.

That’s the way it was for sponsored elder Eusebio, 73, from Guatemala. Six years ago he injured his leg while collecting firewood. But because he couldn’t afford proper medical care, the wound never healed and eventually developed into a trophic ulcer.

When Eusebio became sponsored through Unbound in 2014, he was finally able to see a doctor. He learned just how close he had come to losing his leg and, possibly, his life. He began receiving treatment, which continues today.

Read more

Cristina with her schoolbooks and bag, ready for her classes.
Feb 8 2017

Never too old

Sponsored elder follows dream to go back to school

Cristina and her husband, Epifanio, in their home.

Cristina and her husband, Epifanio, in their home.


Whether it’s providing workshops for sponsored members and their families or encouraging children and youth to stay in school, education has always been a pillar of the Unbound program. And we know that each person has unique needs and abilities, so Unbound social workers work with sponsored members to find the education that’s the best fit, from taking formal classes during the week or opting for technical school or a training program.

With the assistance they receive from Unbound, individuals around the world are choosing to continue their education, and some are even able return to their studies after having to take a break. And Unbound doesn’t just limit the encouragement to children and youth. One of the best examples of this is sponsored elder Cristina from Guatemala. Cristina is 63 years old and has been a part of the Unbound program for more than four years.

Keep reading

Maria, 22, is a former sponsored member who now works as a social worker for Unbound while pursuing a nursing degree.
Feb 1 2017

Nursing a dream

Costa Rican youth works hard to get ahead

Maria, 22, is a former sponsored member who now works as a social worker for Unbound while pursuing a nursing degree.

Maria, 22, is a former sponsored member who now works as a social worker for Unbound while pursuing a nursing degree.

Children learn many things from their parents. Maria, 22, from Costa Rica, is going to school to become a nurse, has a job as a social worker with Unbound and is a former sponsored member and scholarship recipient through Unbound. She credits her parents, Francisco and Maria, with teaching her and her eight siblings many important lessons. One of the many values she and her brothers and sisters have learned from their parents’ example is the importance of hard work.

“We have always worked, since we were children,” Maria said. “Our parents instilled [work ethic] in us and taught us to recognize the value of things. By working, we learned to fight for what we wanted. In spite of the fact that we had to work, we had a very beautiful childhood.”

Keep reading