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.
Sponsored child Irene (right) and her mother Susan stand in front of a church after the Santo Niño parade.
In the Philippines, the Santo Niño Festival is celebrated with many replicas of the small child of Jesus statue.
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
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
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.
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.
From left: Maria, Concepcion C., Jesus, Rosa and Concepcion T. This group of mothers created a business raising chompipollo.
Unbound has long encouraged creative livelihood initiatives for families in our programs. Five enterprising women from Guatemala have taken that encouragement to heart in starting their own poultry business.
Maria, Concepcion C., Jesus, Rosa and Concepcion T. are all moms in the same community. They each have children who are sponsored through the Unbound program, and it’s through this connection that they met.
“The staff has always encouraged us [parents] to start our own business,” Jesus said. “We thought this is something we like, we talked and we just said, ‘Let’s do it.’ We are happy that all five of us are doing this business; it’s a great benefit for all of us.”
Gabriela studies at her home in Guatemala.
At 23 years old, Gabriela is determined to complete her education so she can become a lawyer.
Gabriela lives with her mother and three brothers in Guatemala and has been sponsored by Bruno in Canada since 1996. With the support of her family and of her sponsor, Gabriela is closer to her dreams of completing her education and opening a law office to serve the poor, despite the obstacles poverty has put in her way.
“I dream of helping others,” Gabriela said. “I decided to study law because the poor usually don’t have access to a lawyer. I feel that my career will provide the opportunity to help the less fortunate and defend their rights.”
Ofelia stands in the kitchen of the home she shares with her daughter and son-in-law in Guatemala.
Seventy-eight-year-old Ofelia proves the age-old adage, “with age comes wisdom,” to be true.
“My first advice is to trust God,” Ofelia said. “If you want life, ask for it. Pray. Get on your knees and ask God to give you more life.”
Carlos outside his home in Guatemala. He rents a room constructed of corrugated metal for the walls and roof and concrete for the floor.
Carlos, 73, dreams of returning to college to finish his education. He started studying when he was young, but the need to earn money at a young age to help his family kept him from consistently attending classes after primary school.
“I would ride my bicycle over a narrow dirt road for an hour to get to school,” Carlos said. “It was good exercise, I was in good shape. I had strong legs. Then I worked for years in a carpenter’s shop and at a gas station.”
One of the ways we’ve been celebrating our 35th anniversary is by hearing from sponsored friends and staff around the world. We asked them how Unbound has changed them, what their favorite thing about being sponsored is or what greeting they have for us at this milestone. We’ve featured 35 snapshots of our global community over the past several weeks right here on the blog. Check out the final set of snapshots in the series below, and check out previous posts in the series here!
Check out the snapshots