Guatemalan elder finds new perspective on life
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.
Sponsored elder follows dream to go back to school
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.
Guatemalan women work together in poultry venture
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.”
Youth continues education with help from sponsor
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.”
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, 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
One of the ways we are celebrating our 35th anniversary coming up on Nov. 20 is by hearing from sponsored friends and staff around the world. We asked them how Unbound has changed them, what their favorite thing is about being sponsored or what greeting they have for us at this milestone. We’re featuring 35 snapshots of our global community as we lead up to Nov. 20, right here on the blog. Check out the next set of snapshots in the series and stay tuned for more!
By Jordan Kimbrell, writer/editor for Unbound
After 35 years, we have a lot of stories to tell. As we lead up to our anniversary on Nov. 20, we want to tell you a little bit about our history. We hope you’ll learn something new about who we are and how we work. So far we’ve shared about one of the ways we connect with the church community and how our headquarters used to be a bowling supply company.. This week, we’ll learn about Unbound’s awareness trips which give travelers the chance to witness the work we do firsthand.
One of my favorite stories I’ve written about awareness trips started with a quote from Jesse Fabian, a traveler who didn’t really want to go. He thought it was going to be just another mission trip where they, “put a lot more religion down my throat”, but his wife insisted on going to visit their sponsored friend. And, according to Jesse, that trip to the Philippines in 2010 ended up changing his life.
Though, initially, he may have been more reluctant than others who travel with Unbound, Jesse’s experiences on the trip gave him a better understanding of the work we do and a better connection with his sponsored friend, something we hope all awareness trip participants go home with. But he’s not alone in having misconceptions about what an awareness trip is all about.
Unbound has been providing sponsors and other travelers with the opportunity to see our work firsthand since 1988. That first trip included a group of seven sponsors who accompanied our late co-founder Bob Hentzen to Guatemala so they could meet their sponsored friends.
Today, hundreds of individuals travel with Unbound to 15 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Some countries, like Guatemala, have multiple trips a year, while other countries only have trips at certain times of the year or every other year.
You can visit unbound.org/trips for our full schedule.
After returning from his first awareness trip, Jesse told his wife it was the best trip he’d ever been on.
“I said, ‘I could not go to a five-star hotel and be fulfilled as much as I am now,'” Jesse said. “I went home, I looked, and things were different. I had much more appreciation for what we had.”
Traveling with Unbound, you’ll gain new insights into the realities of sponsored friends and their families around the world. Returning travelers often share stories of something they learned, even if they’ve been on awareness trips before.
You’ll also have the chance to immerse yourself in the local culture. That can mean seeing wildlife in Kenya or learning a new dance in Colombia. You’ll see beautiful landscapes, try local foods and visit the homes of sponsored friends while learning more about how the Unbound program works from our local staff members in each country.
Traveling internationally can be expensive, but traveling with Unbound is one of the more affordable ways to experience another culture. Fees are $650 for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, $800 for South America and $1,200 for Africa and Asia. This covers meals, lodging, activities with sponsored friends, interpreters and in-country ground transportation for one person. Airfare is not included.
It’s your turn
Our 2017 schedule is starting to fill up, so make sure to contact our trips team at email@example.com or (800) 875-6564 to get on the list to travel or request more information.
Check out unbound.org/tripstories to read more travelers’ experiences.