Happy Fourth of July! It’s Independence Day in America, and we are celebrating freedom with fireworks, food, friends and family. But let’s not stop there — what a great time to remember that the freedom we enjoy can help others, and the Unbound community around the world has many freedoms big and small that are worth celebrating.
Joanna Pergande is a trip coordinator for Unbound Awareness Trips. Based in the Kansas office, Joanna has been an Unbound staff member since August 2014 and is a fluent Spanish speaker. Here she reflects on what it’s like to go on awareness trips and see the transformation that happens in the lives and hearts of travelers.
Read Joanna’s reflection on being a trip coordinator.
Unbound sponsor Sandra “Blue” Michel traveled to Kenya in February on an Unbound Awareness Trip. She joined Unbound as a sponsor seven years earlier, after doing extensive research to choose an organization to partner with.
Unbound’s director of sponsor experience, Mary Geisz, traveled to Kenya for the first time on an Unbound awareness trip, where she was rewarded beyond expectation.
By Larry Livingston, senior writer
Father Mike Rieder is a modern Renaissance man. He’s a pastor, a seasoned international traveler and a diehard New York Mets fan (more about that to come). He’s also a treasured member of the Unbound community.
“I’ve been a sponsor a little over 20 years,” Father Mike said. “A friend of mine who I love and trust invited me to join. It has changed my life, the whole experience of being connected with Unbound. Then, becoming a [Unbound] preacher, I felt like, ‘Wow I made the team!’ But, honestly, I was then told I’d been part of the team the whole time.”
Before Al Nhadzar of the Philippines was sponsored at age 12, he hoped for a sponsor not only to help with his education, but to have a friend in another part of the world.
“It [the sponsorship] will be a help to me and my family, especially in my studies,” he said. “I will gain a friend from the other side of the world, which is a very important experience for me.”
Al Nhadzar, who goes by Al, found that friend in Patricia Lazzaro of New York.
By Ismael Kwenga, a former sponsored member
When a sponsored member leaves the program, especially after completing their education, it marks a new chapter in their lives. Sometimes Unbound is part of that new chapter, like when a former sponsored member takes on a staff position, but other times their lives take a different path.
That’s why it’s always a great joy to hear from former sponsored members about what they are doing after leaving the program. We received the following letter from Ismael in Meru, Kenya, updating us about his future plans. He left the program last year after completing his college degree. And though he is no longer part of the Unbound program, his story is a testimony to the lasting impact sponsorship can have on someone’s life.
On a sunny day in Uganda, Mark is hard at work in his backyard woodshop.
A self-employed carpenter for 31 years, Mark has had to jump a lot of hurdles to get his business — and his family — to the steady place they are now. His daughter, Veronika, is sponsored through Unbound and he attributes much of the family’s economic stability to her sponsorship.