Jacqueline Castiblanco Suarez, who was sponsored through Unbound from the time she was a young girl until she began a career in social work, and Judith Bautista, Unbound’s coordinator in Bogota, Colombia, know a lot about what goes into a good letter. They shared their expertise and gave several tips for writing a letter to your sponsored friend.
The Earth is a truly amazing place, from deserts to rain forests and ice-capped mountains. Check out these photos from some of the countries where Unbound works and immerse yourself in the sites seen by sponsored friends around the world.
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Some of the sweetest things in life are born out of adversity.
When Franceny’s father passed away when she was a little girl, she and her mother, Olga, moved from their home in another part of Colombia to Medellin, Colombia, to live with her grandparents.
Olga had to improvise to feed her family after her husband’s sudden death. She learned to make desserts and began selling them in her neighborhood and to bakeries.
In Valparaiso, Chile, there might be a lot of stairs to climb to get home …
… But there’s also a spectacular view.
Over the last decade Unbound has been shifting more and more of the decision-making power into the hands of the families we serve. We believe that families know best what they need and when, so creating a program that is personalized to each family just made sense.
As part of that shift, our local staff have focused on providing guidance to the families on making budgets and goals for how they want to utilize their sponsorship benefits.
Personal program goals put into action a belief in the decision-making power of individual sponsored members. For this reason, goal setting and goal orientation are an important part of living out many other Unbound program characteristics. A personal goal is simply a specific dream about how someone’s life or situation will be in the future. A goal could be related to someone’s future career, education, health status or economic situation.
Staff members from our office in Antioquia, Colombia, came together to share the process they went through when transitioning to the method of using personal program goals.
Colombia has a long history of violence between government forces and militant groups. But increasingly there seems to be hope of a more lasting peace between the Farc rebels and the government, with the possibility that a deal could be signed later this month and the implementation overseen by the UN, according to the BBC. Though peace may be close, the decades-long conflict has created a huge impact, especially for families like Martha’s.
Martha and her family are originally from Antioquia, Colombia, and are part of a large number of internally displaced people.
Throughout his life, one of Alex’s biggest champions has been his grandfather Saniel. Growing up in Colombia, Alex was mostly raised by his grandfather, as his father left when he was still young and his mother works as a housemaid in a different city.
“My grandpa is the one who has always cared for me,” Alex said. “He has always been there for me. My mother works as a housemaid and we visit each other often. She comes here and I go there.”
Now 30, Alex learned a lot from Saniel. He learned how to overcome obstacles, about the importance of punctuality and encouraged Alex to take up sports. But most importantly, Saniel taught Alex not to let the fact that he was blind get in his way.
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
Joy in culture
Madelen, a formerly sponsored child, participates in a traditional dance with the Unbound community in Quibdo, Colombia.
Many of us make New Year’s resolutions: eat healthy, get organized, save more, forget less. Even with the best of intentions, many resolutions fall by the wayside. If you’ve made a resolution, we want you to achieve it. Let the story of one mother’s personal transformation inspire you to succeed in your own goals for 2016.