Category: Sponsor a child

Jan 13 2018

Our house dances with the wind

This is the first in a series of stories focusing on the challenges of finding adequate, affordable housing in the economically developing world. It originally appeared in the Winter 2017 edition of our print publication Living Unbound.

An image of a squatter village in Metro Manila, Philippines.

Sponsored child An-An and her family live in this flood-prone squatter village. The high-rise buildings of Manila loom nearby but are, in some ways, a world apart.


The United Nations estimates that at least one in eight people living on Earth today resides in a slum. A high percentage of those are squatters, dwelling without permission or legal protection on land they don’t own. Left with little or no choice, some erect makeshift housing on public properties, some occupy abandoned buildings and some inhabit any space they can find. Most live in extreme poverty and are, for all practical purposes, ignored by their local governments.

Calvary Hill is a street that winds along the banks of the fetid Ermitaño Creek in the heart of metropolitan Manila. This is a squatter village and, as the name suggests, it’s a place of hardship. A row of ramshackle dwellings stacked two, three and sometimes four or more stories high stretches around the creek bend and out of view, like a house of cards made from a thousand crumpled, mismatched decks.
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Jan 6 2018

Stability begins at home

An older home stands alone in Tegeta, a growing suburb on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s largest city. Like many communities in East Africa, Tegeta is changing. Homes of concrete and other substantial materials are rising up in contrast to the humble dwellings of neighbors who can’t afford better.

“Through telling the stories of our families, the world will put a face to poverty. Through the stories, we will live and walk in the shoes of the marginalized. We will walk into the homes of the poor and have a glimpse of what life looks like through their eyes.” — Regina Mburu, communications liaison for Unbound in Africa

According to the 2016 United Nations Human Development Report, “more than 1 billion people live in housing that’s below minimum standards of comfort and sanitation.” That’s more than 13 percent of the Earth’s population.

Recently, in our print publication “Living Unbound,” we explored the realities of poverty, with a particular focus on housing. Now we want to share some of those stories with you in an upcoming blog series that will run on four Saturdays, starting Jan. 13.

In the series we’ll see how shelter, a universal human need, is affected by lack of choices, and the profound difference that makes in the quality of a person’s life. Access to work, school, markets, hospitals, water, sanitation and nearly everything else important in the life of a human being is impacted by where they live.

In our first story we’ll meet An-An and her family. They’re squatters living in an urban slum in the Philippines and, like millions of others, they’re held hostage by their circumstances. An-An’s family knows what all who live in poverty know: With no safety net, it’s hard to take risks to bring about change. Through the support of sponsors, Unbound is helping them weave that net.

Sometimes a safety net comes in the form of bricks and mortar, as we’ll learn in our second story from Tanzania, where the father of sponsored child Aggy is slowly turning a dream into reality for his family.

The third post in the series will be a photo essay with images from some of the communities where Unbound works. From a tenacious woman in Kenya who earns a living by pedaling a bicycle taxi, to a mother and daughter in the Philippines who make a daily trek over a treacherous river, to a housing development on an arid hill in Peru, you’ll see the struggle and the beauty of the Unbound world.

The final post in the series will be a reflection by staff member Henry Flores, who shares the story of Sandra, a 23-year-old scholarship student in El Salvador. As Henry observes, Sandra is but one of thousands of young people in the Unbound program who, when offered opportunity, embrace it with enthusiasm and make the most of it.

Issues surrounding housing and the challenges that come with it, such as what it takes to get to and from work and school, are realities families participating in Unbound deal with every day of their lives. We believe it’s important to understand these realities because awareness is the first step in making any situation better.

“Through telling the stories of our families, the world will put a face to poverty,” said Regina Mburu, communications liaison for Unbound in Africa. “Through the stories, we will live and walk in the shoes of the marginalized. We will walk into the homes of the poor and have a glimpse of what life looks like through their eyes.”

Dec 30 2017

Words to live by

Donald in Tanzania smiles as he holds a saxophone, his favorite musical instrument.


In our last post of 2017, we bring you the story of a young man in Tanzania who inspired Unbound staff with his talent, determination and wisdom. We thought his story might also inspire you, our readers, and give you encouragement as you start the new year.

The meeting was in full swing as staff from Unbound programs in four East African countries packed a hotel conference room in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Some jotted notes from a presentation that just wrapped up, while most milled about talking with colleagues before the start of the next session.

The din in the room was silenced, abruptly, by the raspy sounds of a musical instrument, a saxophone emitting a familiar tune, the American pop song “I Will Always Love You,” written by Dolly Parton and recorded by Dolly and by Whitney Houston, among others.

The young man playing the tune at a podium up front was Donald, a 21-year-old arts student from the Dar es Salaam area. His rendition, though imperfect, was soulful and captivated the room.
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Dec 16 2017

‘Education is a way of overcoming poverty’

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.”
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Nov 25 2017

Give Tomorrow: Scholars are the future

Unbound social worker Alexander in Guatemala.

Over the past two weeks, we’ve explored the power of Unbound scholarships and shared the story of scholar Rosaura in a new video. In the video, social worker Alexander reveals the difference an Unbound scholarship can make in a young person’s life by providing sustained support.

Scholars also participate in community service and serve as role models for sponsored kids. These activities provide an invaluable boost to a young person’s development. Students learn what it means to give back. Even though they have little means, they experience serving others who have even less.

“Since [Rosaura] has been in Unbound, she has shared her experiences and is a role model for many other youth,” Alexander said. “The scholars, to me, are the future of Guatemala.”

Young adults all over the world struggle to help support their families and still have the means to pursue their educations.

That’s why Unbound’s scholarship program is designed to set students on a path to a better future. With support and the invaluable life lessons from humbly serving their communities, Unbound scholars are creating a better tomorrow for themselves and our world.

We invite you to be part of creating a hopeful future — for all of us. Join our global community of compassion and support.

Donate today and #GiveTomorrow.

Nov 20 2017

Give Tomorrow: Why it works

Through Unbound scholarships, young adults around the world are pursuing their educational goals and creating opportunities for themselves, their communities and our world. Unbound scholars, like Rosaura in Guatemala, are motivated, resilient and hopeful about their futures.

Unbound scholarships help students build a better tomorrow through:

 

Opportunity unlocked
Getting into college in the countries where we work isn’t easy. In many cases, the options are to get an extremely competitive scholarship or pay out of pocket, which makes higher education inaccessible for many. That’s where Unbound comes in. We provide scholarships to students of all backgrounds who have a variety of educational goals. From attending a technical school to pursuing a master’s program, students set out on the path of education with Unbound.

 

Means provided
Many students travel hours by bus and on foot to get to class, and the expenses add up fast. That’s why Unbound helps many students with the extra costs that going to school brings — like transportation, books or school supplies.

 

Communities served
Unlike with a typical university scholarship, scholars become involved in their communities through service. The service component of the program gives students opportunities to develop leadership abilities and gain skills that will help them later in life, such as when they’re seeking employment. It also provides a chance to give back and instills a spirit of service.

 

Potential realized
Opportunities and sustained support set Unbound scholars on a path to graduation from the very beginning. And when they complete their educations, they begin a new journey of economic self-sufficiency that will take them further in life, empowering their families and communities along the way. That’s impact!

Unbound scholars have an opportunity like no other — the chance to pursue their dreams with the support of a global community. You can be a part of that.

Donate today, and help a student build a better tomorrow.
#GiveTomorrow.

 

An image of a woman wearing an Unbound Trailblazer shirt.
Nov 13 2017

The change one shirt can make

An image of a woman wearing an Unbound Trailblazer shirt.

Sponsor Lisa Hendey on the fifth day of the Notre Dame Trail, a 320-mile walking and biking journey in Indiana.


By Lisa M. Hendey, founder of CatholicMom.com and Unbound sponsor

When I applied up to be a “core pilgrim” for the Notre Dame Trail, I had no idea how my life would be impacted by the simple act of walking. Having spotted information about the 320-mile pilgrimage being undertaken by my alma mater in honor of the university’s 175th anniversary, I decided to go for it and apply.

One special day in the fall of 2016, I received a package letting me know that I’d been selected. Included was an intense training schedule. Suddenly, reality set in: Could I, a 54-year-old non-athlete, be ready to cover that distance in time?
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Unbound scholar Rosaura from Guatemala.
Nov 11 2017

Give Tomorrow: Rosaura’s story

Students in the countries where Unbound serves are getting a step above the rest through education. They’re making plans for the future and pursuing their educational goals — from secondary school to vocational training to university — and Unbound’s scholarship program is helping them along the way.

In this video, you’ll meet Rosaura in Guatemala. You’ll learn about the hardships of her past, and about her experience as an Unbound scholar and what that means for her future.

“I want to get ahead,” Rosaura said. “I’m giving the best of me because I know nothing is impossible with this scholarship I have.”

Watch now!

Students are building better futures with the help of Unbound scholarships. When you give to our Education fund, you’re helping them along the way. You’re playing a part in their tomorrow.

Stay tuned this month to learn how our scholarship program helps young people around the world and why it works.

Oct 28 2017

The gift of accompaniment carries us forward


By Regina Mburu, Unbound’s communications liaison for Africa

Visiting Madagascar, the fourth largest island in the world, I felt the refreshing breeze of renewed energy and excitement blowing my way.

Madagascar is located off the east coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. I was a bit nervous about the weather because the last time I visited, which was four years ago, there was a day that was so chilly I had to ask for extra blankets from the hotel where I was staying. It was a pleasant welcome when I arrived to see a brilliant blue sky and feel the sun’s rays cast their glow on my skin.

My colleagues from our program in Madagascar were waiting for me at the airport. As it is often said, a radiant smile is the universal sign of welcome. I felt welcomed.
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Oct 21 2017

Thatch, tin and timber

Cynthia (right) and her mom, Pamela, in Kenya, enjoy the new home they built with the assistance of Cynthia’s sponsorship benefits. Their previous home was a hut with a thatched roof that exposed them to the elements. In this new home, they feel secure.

This fall, we’re exploring the realities of housing for families around the world through blog posts, social media and print publications.

In the latest edition of Impact, you’ll read about families in Medellin, Colombia, who live in precarious homes so far up steep hills that their main form of transportation is a cable car. You’ll also learn about how housing in Kenya can be vastly different if you live in a rural community compared to an urban one.

Check out the current issue of Impact, and be on the lookout for more stories about housing in our upcoming edition of Living Unbound, scheduled to be published in December.

Have you made a Christmas Fund donation yet? Look for the donation envelope inside your copy of Impact or visit unbound.org/Christmas to make your contribution today!