Daniela, an Unbound scholar in Colombia, enjoys the view of Medellin from the local Unbound office. She’s sponsored by Tom and Beth in Kansas.
The conflict and violence that afflicted Medellin, Colombia, until the mid-1990s are well known. Many still think of Medellin as a dangerous area, but the people of Colombia are dedicated to showing the world that they live in a place that’s very different from the perceptions of many — a place of progress, hope and light.
Seventeen-year-old Unbound scholar Daniela is eager to share that Colombia and its communities are places of progress and determination.
Daniela and her family understand the realities of Colombia’s violent past as well as anyone. Her father was killed by an armed group when she was a baby, and she was raised by her grandmother while her mother spent long days and nights working. But this part of her history does not define her or her family. Instead, with the support of Unbound, she strives to set herself apart in her community.
“We have always been members of Unbound either within the community where we live or in the neighboring communities where Unbound has reached,” Daniela, who was sponsored at the age of 5, said. “The organization has helped me a lot. I practically lived my whole childhood with Unbound.”
From left, Unbound program coordinators Chico Chavajay, Hugo Beltran and Manuel Pineda present at the second event in our Global Insight Series.
Audience members at Unbound’s second Global Insight Series.
The legendary college basketball coach John Wooden said, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” Coach Wooden would likely have enjoyed what took place on the evening of Thursday, Sept. 14 at Unbound’s headquarters in Kansas City, when three of Unbound’s Latin America program coordinators shared what they’ve learned from the families they serve.
The occasion was the second presentation in the Unbound Global Insight Series, attended by about 100 people. The main presenters were the coordinators of three of our programs in Latin America.
The Global Insight series was begun as a way for sponsors and other interested members of the local community to learn more about the work of Unbound and, especially, to take advantage of the opportunity to hear from those who are closest to the work of the organization in the field.
The view from the patio of the home of sponsored child Johan in Colombia.
Poverty looks different across countries and regions. What comes easily for one family might be a great struggle for another. From climate to landscape to politics, the conditions of where one lives have a huge, and widely varying, impact on their lives. In upcoming publications, we’re taking a look at the realities of poverty around the Unbound world to get a better glimpse into the lives of the families who are a part of our community.
This fall, we’re focusing that look on the issue of housing, something that impacts every family no matter where they live. Watch your mailboxes for our upcoming edition of Impact on the topic of housing, and read on for a staff member’s reflection on her unexpected experience facing that reality on a trip to Colombia.
Unbound staff members Patricia and Henry (right) say goodbye after visiting the family of sponsored child Johan in Colombia.
By Maureen Lunn, writer/editor
Sitting on a twin bed in a small Colombian home, I felt unusually wary. I’d visited huts and shacks in many countries around the world, but on this visit to the home of an Unbound family in Medellin, I was legitimately nervous. The home I was sitting in felt like it could splinter and fall to the ground far below at any moment.
On September 13, at our HQ in Kansas City, Kansas, we’ll be broadcasting our Global Insight Series on Facebook Live!
Unbound program coordinators Hugo Plaza Beltran of Bolivia, Chico Chavajay of Guatemala and Manuel Pineda of Honduras will be answering questions about how the Unbound program works in each of their countries. They understand deeply the joys and challenges of partnering with families living in poverty. Hear from these experts about how sponsorship gives families the opportunity to dream about tomorrow.
We know not everyone can make it to Kansas City, so we’re bringing the event to you. Head over to our Facebook page and submit a question for one of our project coordinators at any time. Then, tune in at 5:30 on September 13 for the countdown to the livestreaming event and you may hear the answer to your question.
Want to attend the event in person? Visit Unbound.org/insightseries to reserve your spot today!
Sonia (center), with her daughters, Lady (left), Heydi (right) and baby Luna. Lady is sponsored by Mary in Indiana and Heydi is sponsored by Edward in Nebraska.
By Corbett McKinney, student intern
To celebrate the U.N.-sponsored World Humanitarian Day Aug. 19, Unbound is highlighting inspiring members of our global community who’ve overcome obstacles to help others. In Peru, a tenacious mother named Sonia helps others by participating in the local Family Defense group, organized through our program in Lima.
Living in a rocky, dusty city south of the capital, Sonia is the mother of three girls, two of whom are sponsored through Unbound. She’s fiercely proud and protective of her girls. Lady and Heydi are her older children, who are sponsored. Her youngest daughter, Luna, is an infant. Together with her husband, daughters and the family dog, Sonia transforms their modest home into a joyful space filled with noise and laughter.
Sonia’s life wasn’t always so happy.
As government security forces clash with protestors and inflation continues to rise, tension and economic instability in Venezuela are escalating rapidly.
The 3,500 families Unbound serves in Venezuela face the daily hardships of food scarcity, transportation interruptions and power outages.
Our program in Venezuela is based in Barquisimeto, a city of more than 800,000 residents located 225 miles west of the nation’s capital, Caracas. We serve sponsored members and their families there through the efforts of 26 local staff members. Keep reading
Updated August 3, 2017
You may have seen news reports on the increasingly volatile situation in Venezuela over the past several months. Unbound is helping the families we serve there get through skyrocketing inflation, widespread food shortages and large-scale protests that have been occurring on a near daily basis. The Unbound program in Venezuela is located in Barquisimeto, where we serve more than 3,400 families.
Staff and families there face daily hardship caused by unrest and economic instability, such as lack of food, transportation or electricity. Teams in our headquarters in Kansas City and in nearby Colombia and Bolivia are doing their best to support the staff in Barquisimeto, who are working tirelessly to ensure sponsored members continue to receive benefits and support.
Eliezer J. Lobo R., Unbound’s general coordinator in Venezuela, recently wrote a letter addressed to those who sponsor children and elders in his country. He provided an update on how the situation there is affecting our sponsored members and their families, and how the families and our staff are innovating and adapting within the current reality. Because we know others have concerns about the situation in Venezuela, we’re sharing the letter here as well.
As we see over and over, despite the challenges, the families we work with are full of hope. They envision a better future for their children and for themselves. Unbound is there to partner with these families as they work to achieve their dreams, and we’re there to support them through their struggles.
We ask that you keep these families, and all the people of Venezuela, in your thoughts and prayers.
Read Eliezer’s letter
A room in Henry’s apartment in Medellin on one of his first nights there.
By Henry Flores, communications liaisons director
My family and I moved to Colombia, South America, from El Salvador about one year ago. We wanted to give our children a new international education experience and Unbound had an open position for a communications liaison in the country. It was a great opportunity for Unbound, my family and me.
I decided to come in advance of my family to make a path, find a place to live, get life organized, etc. While moving within one’s own country isn’t easy, it still allows for the same social, economic and cultural structure. Moving to another country is a completely different scenario.
When I moved to California, U.S.A., back in 1989, I arrived in a Salvadoran community. I had my relatives, Salvadoran restaurants, food, markets and traditions that were familiar to me. I felt part of my own culture and idiosyncrasy; I had a network. Here in Colombia, I’ve only met one Salvadoran in my new city of Medellin.
John Harney from Arizona visits with his sponsored friends Juan and Karen on an awareness trip to Colombia in May 2017.
An Unbound Awareness Trip is the ultimate opportunity to see the work of Unbound firsthand. Whether you travel to meet your sponsored friend or simply experience the beauty of another culture, your experience on an awareness trip will be like no other.
We’ll be your guides all along the way on this affordable and exceptional experience. Sponsors and non-sponsors alike are invited to travel to any of the 14 countries we’re journeying to in 2018, or check out a trip later this year — there’s still time to sign up!
Unbound sponsor Joseph Rivard of Gulfport, Mississippi traveled to Colombia in May on an Unbound Awareness Trip. He joined Unbound as a sponsor less than a year before the trip, and sponsors three young men in Latin America. Joseph is a retired professor of psychology at Central Michigan University. He reflects on how the trip impacted his faith.
Sponsor Joseph Rivard (right) visits with his sponsored friend, 17-year-old Jan Sebastian, at Jan’s home in Colombia.
Like most Americans and others living in a “first-world” country, life is never perfect. Every Christian I know has a story to tell; stories that speak of the death of a loved one, sickness, stress in a career, family trouble, etc. Each of us, armed with faith, endeavor to overcome our own struggles. We journey through our lives doing the best we can to work through our own deficiencies while trying to understand and serve God in the midst of our confusing and sometimes tumultuous life journey.
When I left for Colombia in May, I knew this trip would be different from other mission-style trips I have made in the past. I knew it would be different, simply because God is always about things “now” and “new.” There were a lot of things in my life journey that could have justified not going on this trip, because life is that way — always filled with challenges and obstacles. Yet, whenever I quieted my worries, I was convinced in my heart that this trip was something God was calling me to do. He didn’t command me to go; God has never arbitrarily demanded things of me in that way. It was more of a gentle stirring and a pull on my heart that communicated invitation and opportunity.