Milestone moments don’t happen every day. For Jolly, a sponsored youth in the Philippines, graduating from college is one of his happiest memories. While most graduates walk toward the stage to get their degrees, Jolly was walking toward his mom.
“When my name was called by the host in our graduation, my mother was clapping her hands,” said Jolly, a sponsored youth living in the Philippines. “I was the one who got her hand and we walked together up the stage. She was the one who put the medal on my neck. I was so happy that moment,” he said.
John teaches students in his classroom.
John, former sponsored child and Unbound scholar.
What happens when sponsored friends graduate from school and leave the program? Do they make better lives for themselves and their families? Are they working? What are they doing to contribute to their communities? Today on our blog, John, a teacher and former sponsored child, answers these questions.
Sponsored child Everth and his mother, Carmen, participated in a neighborhood clean-up day organized by Unbound staff in Nicaragua. Along with other families they collected materials from the streets for recycling or proper disposal.
The city of Estelí, Nicaragua, is a troubled one. Many families served by Unbound live in one of its neighborhoods that is unsafe and run-down.
The neighborhood is underdeveloped. Its dirt roads run with raw sewage. A majority of the sponsored children attend a school on the main road in the neighborhood, an area that has a lot of garbage strewn about.
But the community is trying to make small steps forward, and Unbound is helping residents work toward creating a safer and cleaner neighborhood.
With the help of her son Maricio (left), a sponsored youth, and her brother Abelardo (right), Maria is able to supplement her family’s income with materials she collects for recycling and repair.
Maria finds discarded items that can be fixed and resold to support her family.
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.
Jolly, a member of the fathers group in Unbound’s Cardona program, cuts water hyacinth stalks to be made into sandals and other wearable goods. Once a fisherman, Jolly has found a new source of income in the water hyacinth initiative.
The waterways near Cardona, Philippines, are abundant with water hyacinths.
Water hyacinths, a persistent pest, clog waterways, kill fish and rob sunlight from native aquatic plants in lakes all over the world.
A community in the Cardona area of the Philippines, just outside Manila, experienced such an infestation. In 2012, when Charito L. and her family joined the Unbound program, her husband wasn’t able to continue his job fishing because of the plant. It became increasingly difficult to support their family.
“My source of income way back then was selling fishes but, because of the huge number of water hyacinths in the lake, the fishes died out,” she said.
From left: Florencia, her daughters Carina and Mikaela and her son Giancarlo, center.
Florencia used to beg her husband for enough change to purchase a small amount of vegetable so she could make soup for her children.
“Most of the time, I just prepared it with water and very few vegetables,” Florencia said.
Florencia is the mother of four children, two of whom are sponsored through Unbound in Bolivia. Florencia participates in the Unbound urban agriculture program in her area, which means begging for spare change is no longer part of Florencia’s routine.
Manish, 14, is sponsored through Unbound in India.
The Taj Mahal, Delhi, India.
Manish spent a good part of his childhood stationed outside the East Gate of India’s famed Taj Mahal.
By the age of 5 he was working long days peddling trinkets: bracelets, beads or cheap keychains.
Selling on the streets is dangerous work for little kids. They can become easy prey for thieves or victims of speeding cars and motorcycles.
But Manish had little choice. He is the youngest of seven. His father works, but doesn’t make enough money to feed every child in the family.
Elizabeth makes pastries outside her home in Nicaragua.
On a good day, Elizabeth earns $3.78 selling pastries she makes in the home she shares with 12 other family members.
That’s a good day. Sometimes, she makes less.
Randy, 23, is an alumnus of the Unbound program in the Philippines.
Randy outside the house he shared with five other family members.
Education is considered a key step in a person’s journey out of poverty, but paying for higher education can also be one of the biggest challenges. It certainly was for Randy, a young man sponsored through Unbound in the Philippines since he was 8 years old.
That’s where Unbound’s scholarship program came in. Funded by donations for Education, the scholarship program enables students all over the world to pursue upper levels of education, such as high school, technical school or college, giving them the boost they need to achieve their dreams. We had the opportunity to interview Randy shortly before he graduated from college and learned how being part of the scholarship program impacted his life.
Rolando and his youngest daughter, Nataly, enjoy spending time together.
Rolando didn’t have a father growing up in Cartagena, Colombia. His dad died in a car crash when he was just a baby, and his mother died from diabetes when he was only 3 years old.
“I don’t recall much of my parents,” Rolando said, “but I remember my mother being a hard-working woman, and remember her selling fried food downtown. … The one thing I remember from her is the big love she gave us; that is something that I still have inside me.”