We’re hosting a variety of events in Omaha, Nebraska from September 15-17. Check out the details below, and pick a day to come see us if you’re in the area!
By Larry Livingston, senior writer/editor
Last week a group of Catholic priests who travel around the country to preach on behalf of Unbound were at our headquarters in Kansas City for their annual conference. Every summer they join together as a community for a few days of learning and fellowship, and to share stories of their adventures traveling to parishes throughout the U.S.
For those of us who work in Kansas City, this is one of our favorite times of the year. It’s our opportunity to thank them for all the times they drove seven hours to get to that small town in the middle of nowhere in time for Saturday confessions, or spent the night at Gate 23 at DFW because their originating flight was canceled in Philadelphia.
For college students, summers are often a time for continued learning through internships. And this summer was a special one at Unbound, as one of our eager, talented student interns was Selica Piloy, a former sponsored child who now attends Cottey College in Nevada, Missouri, just a few hours’ drive from our headquarters in Kansas City. Selica brought her international relations education and her personal passion for journalism to her internship. In this piece, she reflects on her experience of observing the inner workings of a major international nonprofit.
By Selica Piloy, student intern
This summer I had the wonderful opportunity for an internship at Unbound. Working here has always been one of my dreams and now it has come true. The environment here is really lovely. Unbound employees are always helping each other, and the role of each one is very important to the team as a whole. I have seen them working hard every day to accomplish their goals and better serve the sponsored children and families.
I’ve come to understand the daily work of all the different departments at Unbound. All of their efforts together form the veins of Unbound, and I want to take some time to recognize that.
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. Carmen is from El Salvador and works for Unbound as a social worker in 11 communities in Santa Ana, with more than 200 sponsored children and their families. She started with Unbound seven years ago, learning about the organization while working as a caretaker for a sponsored elderly woman. Carmen and her husband have a 16-year-old daughter.
In this interview, conducted by Naresli Calitto, former communications liaison, Carmen shares about her experience working for Unbound amidst the challenges of life in El Salvador. Her name was changed for safety reasons.
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.
The U.N. has designated Aug. 9 International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. According to Dictionary.com, indigenous means “originating in and characteristic of a particular region or country.” In simple terms, an indigenous person is one whose ancestry is based in the country and region in which they are born.
According to the U.N., there are an estimated 370 million indigenous people living in 90 countries across the world. With that kind of diversity, the experiences of one indigenous group might vary greatly from the experiences of another. There are some common experiences, however, such as maintaining strong connections to tradition and community, and facing the challenges of discrimination and lack of opportunity. How these experiences develop depend on the country, region and even sometimes the gender of an indigenous person.
At Unbound, we focus on the individual to understand their distinct needs and goals. To gain a better understanding of what it’s like growing up as an indigenous person, we interviewed Selica Piloy, a former sponsored member from Guatemala who’s attending college in the United States and just finished a summer internship at Unbound’s international headquarters in Kansas City. Selica, 21, is getting ready to start her sophomore year at Cottey College in southern Missouri, where she’s pursuing a degree in international studies.
Selica is part of the Kaqchikel Mayan community in Guatemala. She’s passionate, bright and articulate in describing her experience as an indigenous woman.
The stories in our recent issue of Living Unbound are about the innovative ways that your sponsorship helps people around the world, delivering personalized benefits that give families the means to lift themselves out of poverty.
What you may not see is how exceptional these solutions are. Unbound is leading the way toward a new kind of service. The programs that you support look first to the wisdom and the creativity of the people we all serve. Conditional cash transfers help families take charge of their own lives. Parent groups provide opportunities for members to take microloans to start businesses and change whole communities.
And these methods work. Contrary to the myth that giving people money makes them lazy, research around the world shows that conditional cash transfers like the ones Unbound employs have positive long-term impacts. Children stay in school longer, their overall educational and health outcomes improve and they grow up to get better jobs.
Together, you and the rest of the Unbound community of sponsors provide opportunity.
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.
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.
Unbound seeks to be a gentle agent of peace in the world, and we celebrate all the moments of connection we are privileged to witness between members of our community of different faith traditions.
Throughout the world, Muslims are concluding the month of Ramadan. A period of fasting, prayer and acts of charity, Ramadan reflects the pillars of Islam.
The Ramadan fast, from sunrise to sunset throughout the month, is an act of personal discipline aimed at helping the faithful grow closer to God by focusing on the interior life. Many Muslims, like Christians who fast during Lent, also believe the practice helps them grow in solidarity with others.
In a 2015 story featured on the Unbound blog, Fatuma, the mother of former sponsored youth Fosia in Kenya, spoke of how Ramadan has helped her grow in compassion for her neighbors, many of whom do not share her Muslim faith.
“During the Ramadan fast, we especially feel connected to the many in our neighborhood who go without food because of poverty,” she said. … “When we break our fast in the evening, we make sure that we share our food with our neighbors. When we get food from Unbound, and one of our neighbors has nothing, we gladly share with them.”
It took a village
Jonah, 10, sits outside his school in Kampala, Uganda. When his mother, Jane, moved away temporarily for work, Jonah struggled to stay in school. Members of the local Unbound mothers group stepped in to provide support and help him keep up his studies. Today, Jonah is doing well in school, loves math, and Jane is back home and active in the mothers group.
See more photos