By Karen Allemang, trip and volunteer manager for Unbound
As concerns grow about the spread and potential effects of the Zika virus, some of our sponsors have asked whether Unbound will cancel any of our planned trips to the field. Many of these sponsors are traveling with Unbound on an awareness trip and are excited to meet their sponsored friend for the first time.
I am happy to say that we have no plans to cancel any of our upcoming trips.
As part of our standard procedures, the awareness trip coordinators and I monitor current events that could impact travelers. Here is some of the key information we are reading from the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding Zika virus:
- “Until more is known, CDC recommends special precautions for pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant.”
- “Pregnant women (should) consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.” Read more.
- A WHO committee advised on Feb. 1, 2016, “The Committee found no public health justification for restrictions on travel or trade to prevent the spread of Zika virus. At present, the most important protective measures are the control of mosquito populations and the prevention of mosquito bites in at-risk individuals, especially pregnant women.”
Regardless of what is or isn’t making headlines, we urge all our travelers to read the CDC’s Traveler’s Health page and speak with a medical professional regarding travel and their health. We provide information useful for that conversation such as the elevation of the areas they’ll visit and whether or not the lodging is air conditioned. We also require pregnant travelers to obtain medical clearance from their doctor in order to travel with us.
Many illnesses can be avoided by preventing mosquito bites. We refer travelers to the CDC’s Mosquito Bite Prevention PDF for guidance on preventing mosquito bites. A favorite prevention method of our team is using Permethrin to treat clothing as directed by the CDC.
Karen Allemang, trip and volunteer manager for Unbound
Meeting Antonio, you just know he’ll have something interesting to say.
At 74 years old, Antonio has been sponsored through Unbound’s program in Mexico for 10 years. Tending to his garden and raising chickens are some of his hobbies. He has a lot of life experience and leans toward the simple life. And that’s something many of us could learn from him.
Antonio grew up working in the fields and raising cattle. He never learned to read or write but speaks two languages, Mayan and Spanish. And although he lost his eyesight many years ago and now needs assistance getting around, Antonio continues to work alongside his wife, Leonida, as they harvest corn.
Antonio has graciously shared some of his wisdom with the Unbound staff so we could pass it on to you.
While some may think of Cancun, Mexico, as a popular tourist spot, others consider it home.
Ana and her family live in Cancun, and although she lives in a beautiful place, life there has been challenging. After her husband suffered a work-related injury he was unable to work for a long time.
“It was a hard time in our lives,” Ana said. “We did not have any income.”
Confidence, it seems, can be contagious. For Aracely, an Unbound scholarship student and sponsored youth, it has also been liberating.
With age comes wisdom but also the risk of social isolation. Many elders across the globe may go days or weeks without speaking to anyone. Elders who live in poverty and face loneliness are at an even greater risk of depression and deteriorating mental health.
Small acts of kindness, from holding a door open to paying for another person’s cup of coffee, can create a bright spot in someone else’s day. Studies have even shown performing acts of kindness can positively impact a person’s health. But mostly, performing these acts can bring a community together.
The old adage, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” rings true for Maria’s family.
She and the other six members of her family work hard reclaiming items from the streets of their Mexican neighborhood.
“First, I am a mother. This is my first and most important job,” Maria said. “I enjoy doing overtime mother’s work, even if I don’t get paid for it,” she laughed.
But in order to pay the bills, Maria has a very different job — she is a pepenadora or one who searches through trash for a living.