Confidence, it seems, can be contagious. For Aracely, an Unbound scholarship student and sponsored youth, it has also been liberating.
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.
Maria is a sponsored elder who lives in Mexico with her oldest son and his family. Maria’s husband passed away, and she now sells clothes at a local market to earn a small income. She is outgoing and enjoys staying active. Learn Maria’s secret to a long life and other wisdom she shares with us.
Seven-year-old Hanna lives in Mexico with her mom, dad, big brother and little sister. Hanna loves to play with her friends and be active, despite having asthma and allergies. Her favorite part about school is doing art projects.
Her dad is a seasonal day laborer, and on average the family income is only $160 a month when her dad can find work. With her mom in need of medical treatment, meeting the costs of sending all three children to school is becoming increasingly difficult for the family.
For Hanna, getting a sponsor would mean she can stay in school. She would also have access to regular health check-ups, better nutrition and special events with other sponsored kids, among other benefits. But the best benefit she would receive would be knowing that someone in another part of the world believes in her and wants to help her and her family have a better future.
Editor’s note: Since this was posted, Hanna has found a sponsor. Click here to view other kids waiting for a sponsor.
Thinking of her childhood home, one thing stands out for Jéssica.
“We could see the stars at night,” she said.
That was only because the roof on her home was so bad she could see the sky through the holes.
Jéssica, now 24, lives with her parents and four siblings in Mexico. And she remembers finances were tight at home.
“I could not have things that I wanted and needed,” she explained. “I recycled notebooks, school supplies, school bags and anything I could for the following year.”
While her friends were out having fun, Jéssica could be found packing groceries at the local supermarket, earning $6 USD on a good day, to help her parents make ends meet. She was just 13.
But something changed six years ago.
David became her sponsor.
Life has not been easy for Alicia. Her father passed away when she was 7 years old, leaving her mother to raise four children. Within a year of her father’s death, Alicia and her 10-year-old brother entered the workforce to help support their two younger siblings.
“Life was hard for me,” Alicia shared. “I did not have time to be a child.”
Alicia grew up cleaning homes instead of attending school, and started her adult life with a very limited set of skills. Her husband, Julio, had a similar upbringing, and though he worked hard, found it difficult to provide for his family as a seasonal worker.
“Life was difficult because we did not have jobs, we didn’t even have the knowledge or skill to start a business,” Alicia said of herself and her husband.