Unbound staff member Maureen Lunn from Kansas City at an overlook in Medellin, Colombia.
A sign on the wall of an Unbound program office in Cartagena, Colombia.
By Maureen Lunn, writer/editor
I’ve had the privilege of trotting around the globe quite a lot in my life thus far, and by my mid-30s had set foot on every continent except South America. (Well, and Antarctica. But that doesn’t really count, does it?) So when I had the opportunity recently to travel to Colombia with Unbound, I knew it was going to be a special journey. I was right.
A week in Medellin and four days in Cartagena provided some of the most exceptional cultural experiences I’ve ever had, some of the craziest views I’ve ever seen and some of the warmest people I’ve ever met. Here are 10 impressions that have really stuck with me from my 10 days in the country.
A workbook provided by Unbound offices in Colombia has space for families to record their goals and how they plan to use their sponsorship benefits to meet those goals.
Ever wants to be a soccer player and get a college degree.
Ana Maria is studying technology in industrial processes.
Gloria’s son Juan wants to be an engineer.
Maria wants to improve her dressmaking business and help her son realize his dream of being a fireman.
They all have unique goals for themselves and their families. And because they’re part of the Unbound program in Colombia, they receive their benefits via child accounts, which gives them flexibility in using the funds to achieve their goals. Keep reading
Tomorrow, April 11, is National Pet Day. This annual celebration encourages adoption from local shelters and is also a good time to reflect on the benefits of having a pet. Not only can it teach children responsibility, but caring for a pet can also teach love, compassion and respect for nature. We’re celebrating by sharing some of the many wonderful photos we’ve received of sponsored members with pets and other animals.
Gloria, the mother of a sponsored child in Colombia, gives the family cat, Chepe, a big hug. Despite what some may think about cats, he does seem to be enjoying the attention. See more photos!
Esteban, a sponsored elder in Guatemala, enjoys playing with his dogs .
Over the past weeks we’ve heard phenomenal stories of Unbound sponsored elders and their wisdom, joy and love.
We learned about Cristina in Guatemala, who returned to school at age 59, and Julia in Bolivia, who embodies love in how she cares for her husband. Eusebio in Guatemala shared his wisdom about embracing life, while Eustaquia in Mexico provided a lesson in ingenuity and care for the earth. Finally, Maria in Guatemala described the hardships of her life and how she has overcome them through faith.
Beatriz and her son, Juan Pablo, in their home in Cali, Colombia.
Sponsored children in Unbound’s programs make up the foundation of our global community, but it’s often their parents who are empowered by the benefits of sponsorship to make decisions for their family that foster growth out of poverty. That’s why you hear so many stories about mothers and fathers here on the blog.
Beatriz in Cali, Colombia, is the mother of 11-year-old Juan Pablo, who is sponsored by David in Arizona. She took some time to share her story about overcoming hardship with Henry Flores, our communications team member based in Colombia. Keep reading
Julia and her husband, Dionicio, in their home in Bolivia.
The experience of having been hurt by others is, sadly, not an uncommon part of the story of many elderly people who live in poverty. Being poor carries with it great vulnerability and it only increases with age.
Many endure their hurts with grace and even learn to forgive. Those who find it within themselves to not only forgive, but actually reach out in compassion to the people who’ve wronged them, inspire us.
Enrique, a sponsored elder in Bolivia, stands in the entrance of his adobe home.
Every day, as the sun begins to rise in Bolivia, 69-year-old Enrique wakes up, eats an early breakfast and makes his way to his workshop where he cuts logs into smaller pieces — carving, sanding and drying the wood as spoons, bowls and cups take shape.
Sophisticated handiwork like Enrique’s can be challenging and time-consuming for anyone to learn. For him, woodworking was a natural fit. But it wasn’t Enrique’s first career. Keep reading
After his father left three years ago, Brayan and his family were in a tough situation. His mother, Lucretia, had to leave then 8-year-old Brayan at home with his older sister for long periods while she worked far away to pay off a bank loan. Fortunately, Brayan heard about Unbound from a friend at school who was sponsored.
“I told my mother and she was able to reach the office and talk to the coordinator,” Brayan said. “I have now been sponsored for three years. I had to wait for about a year to find a sponsor.”
We’re so honored that more than 1,000 people celebrated 35 years of service with us on Saturday, Nov. 19 at our Global Block Party. Located at our headquarters in Kansas City, the party was packed with sponsors, neighbors, employees and founding families. The day was a meaningful symbol of the growing Unbound community in Kansas City and around the globe.
Over the course of the crisp, fall afternoon, guests learned about Unbound’s unique model through a staff-created exhibit about our work, listened to speakers and performers, and visited with staff and family members of our founders. From a KC drill team to African traditional dancers, performances were running throughout the event, reflecting the colorful cultures of Unbound from Kansas City to around the globe. Check out some photos from our big day.