Miriam is a 22-year-old sponsored youth in Bolivia — and a big medal winner in the Bolivian National Special Olympics.
Miriam has been sponsored by Dan and Maureen in Oregon since 2006. She has an intellectual disability that affects her speech and learning.
One day in 2008, she saw a video at school about rhythmic gymnastics.
Usebio is a natural-born leader and offers up his own services to anyone who needs them.
Through his leadership, he helps others in his mountain community in Ecuador get ahead. And at 69, he’s had a lot of practice as a leader.
“I liked to lead and organize since I was little,” Usebio said. “When I was 9 years old, I started catechesis classes with the schoolchildren in my house. Also, when I was bigger, I organized young people to arrange festivals, dramas and social activities.”
His community is mostly made up of farmers, and there isn’t always enough work to go around.
“There are not many jobs here,” he said. “People collect sugar cane, guavas and grow cassava, potatoes, etc. During guavas season, people collect and sell them to people from the city. For example, we sell guavas at $1.50 per box. In a good day we can sell 10, but in a bad day we don’t even get $5.”
By John Fredy Arango, Unbound staff member in Medellin, Colombia
The Colombian government has been in conflict with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the country’s largest guerrilla movement, since the 1960s, as well as other armed groups. More than 50 years of violence has had an impact on people from all parts of the country. Unbound staff member John Fredy Arango reflects on the recent evolution of the conflict.
I was barely in my mother’s womb when the echoes of war were already shaking my body. I was born and grew up, I became a young man and I heard those sounds of war again, but this time they were stronger. I saw how they were numbing the hopes and neutralizing the dreams of those around me.
Luis has spent his whole life in La Paz, Bolivia. And for 15 of his 26 years, he has been sponsored by Anna from Ohio. Being part of the Unbound program has had a big impact on his life, and the values he learned from the organization helped shape his desire to serve others through police work.
“I have this strong desire to serve, to provide a helping hand for others,” Luis said. “If I have a coin in my pocket and I see someone who needs it more, I give it to the person even though I know that I also need it. I think I’ve picked up this type of attitude at Unbound, the spirit of serving with no self-interest.
“Sponsors are great role models because they provide support for people like me just because their heart says, ‘They need it.’ … I think I joined the [police] academy with the hopes that this career could provide opportunities for me to help society.”
This week, four Unbound staff members from our Kansas City office will travel to Orlando, Fla., to represent Unbound at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Annual Conference. NCLR is the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S., and Unbound is proud to participate in the conference, connecting the Latino community in the U.S. with families served by Unbound in the 13 Spanish-speaking countries where we work.
This will be the second time Unbound has had a presence at the NCLR conference, beginning last year when the gathering was held just down the road from the main office in Kansas City. Unbound will be set up at booth #908 in the exposition hall and host a drawing for a free awareness trip to Guatemala.
“We want the NCLR community to know that [Unbound] does a lot of work in Latin America, so it’s a great opportunity for people to get involved, make connections and give back,” Unbound’s volunteer outreach manager, Claudia Vázquez-Puebla, said. “The impact that [sponsorship] makes and the results we have is something that needs to be out there in all kinds of communities.”
Previously involved with NCLR on her own, Claudia paved the path for Unbound to participate in last year’s NCLR conference. This year, four other Unbound staff members will attend, forming an experienced, passionate and bilingual team.
One of those four is Paola Moreno, who first heard of Unbound at last year’s conference when she helped out at a booth for a radio station.
“Claudia came to talk to us about Unbound,” Paola said. “And out of nowhere, I said, ‘Are you hiring?'” Paola had a job at Unbound within a few weeks as an outreach volunteer coordinator, and now is returning to NCLR to represent Unbound.
Like Paola, the other Unbound staff members attending NCLR are deeply passionate about Unbound’s work with families living in poverty and love to tell its story. From talking about the connections sponsors make with their sponsored friends to passing out Unbound materials, the team is excited to engage with people of all backgrounds.
At the Unbound booth in the expo hall, the team will share Unbound’s work and encourage attendees to participate in the giveaway for an Unbound Awareness Trip to Guatemala, which includes airfare. Following and sharing about Unbound on various social media platforms will generate entries into the drawing, and a lucky winner — who will get to see Unbound’s work firsthand — will be announced in coming weeks. The contest will spotlight those at the NCLR conference, but will be open to anyone on social media who would like to participate.
In addition to the booth and the trip giveaway, the Unbound team will also have the fun opportunity to meet with Unbound sponsors who live in the Orlando area. Local sponsors are invited to join them at the booth so the staff can hear about their experiences as sponsors and personally thank them.
Unbound is honored to be a part of this year’s NCLR conference. Learn more about Unbound’s work in Latin America by visiting our blog.
Learn more about the giveaway and enter to win the trip to Guatemala!
Taste of tradition
Nancy gets ready to enjoy a bowl of mukimo, a traditional Kenyan dish of mashed vegetables, which she makes for her family. Nancy’s 17-year-old son, David, is sponsored through Unbound.
Jim and Ellen Storey have been Unbound sponsors for 19 years. They sponsor four children in Colombia, where they recently visited on an Unbound Awareness Trip. Jim took some time to describe his experience with Unbound.
Read Jim’s insightful trip reflection.