Unbound mother Maria shows off her sewing.
Trying something for the first time can be difficult and intimidating. It was true for Maria when she first started learning how to sew.
Maria is a mother of four living in El Salvador. She joined the Unbound sponsorship program 11 years ago when her oldest daughter, Rosa, was sponsored by Alanna and Frances from Pennsylvania.
As a part of the program, Maria joined a mothers group with mothers in the area whose children are also sponsored through Unbound. The mothers had the opportunity to learn a new skill, and they decided to take sewing classes.
At first Maria was afraid, saying, “I used to cry because I thought if I couldn’t sew that I wouldn’t make it. It was hard to learn.”
Maria Sabina and her son Ronny in their home in El Salvador.
The next time you are at a child’s birthday party and the kids are swinging wildly at a piñata, take a moment to think about Maria Sabina. That brightly colored donkey, fish or bird might just have been made by her own two hands.
The mother of a child in the Unbound sponsorship program, Maria Sabina lives with her husband and two sons in a village in north-central El Salvador. Her son Ronny, 10, has been sponsored by Jackie in Florida since 2012.
Maria Sabina belongs to the Unbound mothers group in her community. As in other locations throughout the Unbound world, her group provides a structure for the mothers of sponsored children to come together and offer each other moral and emotional support.
Angela, a sponsored elder in El Salvador.
Angela, or Angelita, as she’s called by her family and friends, is a sponsored elder in El Salvador. She’ll celebrate her 71st birthday in March, but has gone through a lot to get to such a distinguished age.
“My childhood was very humble,” Angela said. “My father worked the land; he worked in everything that he could find. We were nine siblings, seven boys and two girls. … We all stayed in one room. A friend of my family lent us that room and it was made of adobe.
“We were living in extreme poverty. That’s why my siblings and I never went to school. Instead we had to work. I collected firewood, carried water to my house and washed clothes in a river.”
Joy in culture
Madelen, a formerly sponsored child, participates in a traditional dance with the Unbound community in Quibdo, Colombia.
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José Antonio announces an advertisement for one of his clients.
Meet José Antonio, the voice of “Market Radio,” a small radio station located inside a local market in El Salvador.
“I do everything here,” he said. “I play the music; I also do radio spots. I use the computer and I sell products.”
It’s the first market of its kind in the area, with an in-house radio station promoting goods of vendors who have shops and stalls there. From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., you can hear José Antonio over the loud speakers, playing music from the 80s and 90s, and advertising low prices on products.
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.
Jorge sitting in his favorite spot.
Adilia, a sponsored youth in El Salvador.
Yuda, now 27, holds two economics textbooks he authored.
Manish and his mother, Shakuntla.
Unbound’s Outreach Volunteer team, from left: Claudia Vázquez-Puebla, Lydia Leffelman, Clair Paul, Laurel Harrold and Maureen Ortiz.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States, we thought it would be good to have an encore presentation of some of the stories we featured on the Unbound blog in 2015.
Each of these stories reflects gratitude, expressed in many ways and for a variety of gifts. They represent just a few of the hundreds of stories we have presented over the years about people for whom thankfulness is not just an occasional sentiment but a virtue that marks every day of their lives.
El Día de los Muertos
From left: Leti and her daughter Norma sell handmade decorations for Day of the Dead.
, Day of the Dead, is a popular holiday in Latin America when people visit the gravesites of loved ones. Headstones are painted, cleaned and adorned with flowers. It’s a time for families to come together to honor their loved ones who have passed on.
Gumercinda, a 79-year-old sponsored elder in El Salvador, and Gustavo Aybar, Unbound communications services manager.
By Gustavo Adolfo Aybar, communications services manager for Unbound Sponsor Services
As a native Dominican, raised in the United States the majority of my life, I believed my summer vacations, plus my connection to the island — both personal and through my studies — kept me culturally aware and prepared to serve as an ambassador for families struggling in poverty. That was before I traveled to El Salvador to participate in an Unbound staff awareness trip.