Category: Sponsor an aging friend

Jan 6 2018

Stability begins at home

Realities of poverty series: The struggle for adequate housing

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.”

An elderly woman stands outside her home.
Dec 23 2017

A simple Christmas wish

Sponsored elder, Unbound staffer share Christmas joy

An elderly woman stands outside her home.

Sponsored elder Salvacion stands outside her home in Zambaoanga, Philippines.


Throughout the year, Unbound’s communications liaisons interview dozens of people to help us share the stories of the people we serve. Sometimes, they meet someone who inspires them in unexpected ways. That’s what happened to Tristan John Cabrera, who is based out of an Unbound office in Quezon City, Philippines, when he visited 84-year-old sponsored elder Salvacion in Zamboanga. Salvacion has been sponsored by Stephanie from Louisiana for almost 16 years.

“Do not cast me aside in my old age; as my strength fails, do not forsake me.” (Psalm 71:9)

On a recent visit to our program in Zamboanga, in the southern part of our country, I felt so touched by a particular elder from there. Her name is Salvacion, or “Lola (Grandma) Salvacion,” as they call her. Many residents of Zamboanga, including Salvacion, speak a Spanish-based language called Chavacano. Visiting the city, I heard, “Bienvenidos de Zamboanga,” which means welcome to Zamboanga. I don’t understand much of the Chavacano language, but since some residents also speak Filipino, which I speak, we can still communicate.

Here in the Philippines, we are very caring toward our grandparents. We take care of them no matter how hard it is, most especially if the elder is bedridden or unable to walk anymore. I remember my “Lola” (grandmother) who took care of me when I was a child while my parents were working. I wasn’t able to take care of her when she was really weak because of her age, as I was only 7 years old. I wished I was old enough at that time to give my Lola all the best care that I could give.

Salvacion lives in a small home made up of scrap materials that might collapse anytime. The pathway going to her house is flooded with thick mud, and I myself was actually hesitant to walk on it. She just wears her old boots and washes them out as she goes back and forth.

According to her neighbor, who also happens to be a sponsored elder, Lola Salvacion is a strong woman. She lives independently. She doesn’t bother her neighbors just to ask for food or drinking water. They just check on her every morning to see if she is still OK, and sometimes they give her food.

It must be really hard for Lola Salvacion to live alone in the area, especially considering her age. At 84, she can still walk, but you can see she is already struggling. Her voice is husky and dry, with teary eyes. I notice her back is already bending as she stands and walks. But seeing her without anyone who could hold her hands while walking is very painful for me. Everyone with me is looking at her as she walks in the mud, thinking she might fall.

Everyone is saying, “Ingat ingat nay,” or “Careful, Mother.”

I am holding my camera because I want to show people how strong she is through the pictures and videos.

As we go along in my interview, I ask her if she has one wish for Christmas, what would it be? She said it would be to eat chicken, either adobo chicken (a Filipino specialty with meat marinated in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and other seasonings) or fried chicken. Do you know what comes to my mind? (And I know if you are in my position, you will do the same thing.) I decided to treat her to lunch, together with the program staff and our driver. It’s a surprise for her.


We visited a food chain serving fried chicken. Lola Salvacion looks so happy seeing where we are heading (going to Jolibee, a popular restaurant in the Philippines). We ordered what she likes with fries and a soft drink. I decided to pack my food and give it to her. She accepted it and told me that she will just eat it tomorrow. She also packed the remaining foods that she had and she said, “I can reserve these foods and eat it when I get hungry.”

After we ate, she confidently smiled at me. She said, “’Thank you very much,’ and I said, “’No, no, no, I must be the one to say thank you. You are really inspiring, you touched my heart, and I know your sponsor and the others will be happy to see your story.’”

Sometimes there’s no need to ask too many questions because the answer is already there in your eyes. The way I look at her, I remember my grandmother and how she would do everything to take care of me while my parents were at work. Lola Salvacion’s situation, living alone, is not common here in the Philippines. We really take care of our grandparents. We do everything we can to assist them until the end.

I know Lola Salvacion she has already found a family through Unbound. Love of neighbor, love coming from staff and parent leaders, her sponsor and love coming from within. That’s what makes Lola Salvacion keep on going strong in whatever challenges she encounters.

Let’s give love to our grandparents. They are also the reason why we are here in this world. They made a lot of history to secure our future right now.

Give love to the grandparents of the world. Sponsor an elder today.

Oct 28 2017

The gift of accompaniment carries us forward

Reflections from Madagascar


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

A focus on the realities of housing

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!

Oct 14 2017

‘There’s always a light’

Sponsored youth Damaris, 23, has faced an uphill battle since childhood to complete her education. Nevertheless, she’s close to reaching her goal of a college degree in human resources.


Every path out of poverty is lined with obstacles. Damaris’ journey has been extraordinarily difficult.

Most sponsored children need additional support to help them continue their studies past primary school. For Damaris, it took sponsorship support and her willingness to work while attending school to afford her living and education expenses.
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Audience members at Unbound's second Global Insight Series.
Sep 30 2017

Global Insight Series

What we learn when we listen


The legendary college basketball coach John Wooden said, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” Coach Wooden would likely have enjoyed what took place on the evening of Thursday, Sept. 14 at Unbound’s headquarters in Kansas City, when three of Unbound’s Latin America program coordinators shared what they’ve learned from the families they serve.

The occasion was the second presentation in the Unbound Global Insight Series, attended by about 100 people. The main presenters were the coordinators of three of our programs in Latin America.

The Global Insight series was begun as a way for sponsors and other interested members of the local community to learn more about the work of Unbound and, especially, to take advantage of the opportunity to hear from those who are closest to the work of the organization in the field.
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An image of a precarious home in Colombia.
Sep 25 2017

The precarious home on the hillside

A staff member's reflection on the reality of poverty in Medellin

The image of a vast view of Medellin, Colombia.

The view from the patio of the home of sponsored child Johan in Colombia.

Poverty looks different across countries and regions. What comes easily for one family might be a great struggle for another. From climate to landscape to politics, the conditions of where one lives have a huge, and widely varying, impact on their lives. In upcoming publications, we’re taking a look at the realities of poverty around the Unbound world to get a better glimpse into the lives of the families who are a part of our community.

This fall, we’re focusing that look on the issue of housing, something that impacts every family no matter where they live. Watch your mailboxes for our upcoming edition of Impact on the topic of housing, and read on for a staff member’s reflection on her unexpected experience facing that reality on a trip to Colombia.

An image of a precarious home in Colombia.

Unbound staff members Patricia and Henry (right) say goodbye after visiting the family of sponsored child Johan in Colombia.

By Maureen Lunn, writer/editor

Sitting on a twin bed in a small Colombian home, I felt unusually wary. I’d visited huts and shacks in many countries around the world, but on this visit to the home of an Unbound family in Medellin, I was legitimately nervous. The home I was sitting in felt like it could splinter and fall to the ground far below at any moment.

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An image of a handmade gift from Nicaragua.
Sep 16 2017

‘Past today and into tomorrow’

Gaining perspective through a trip to Nicaragua

An image of a handmade gift from Nicaragua.

By Corie Rast, social media coordinator

Nearly every weekday for the past 13 months, I’ve driven to my job at Unbound in Kansas City, Kansas, sipping on coffee and cycling through my regular stress points:

“Ugh, I hope it’s not freezing in the office today.”

“Kinda bummed I only have these leftovers for lunch. I just have … too much food.”

“If this meeting doesn’t go exactly how I want it to go, I’m just going to lose it.”

Don’t get me wrong — I’m lucky and thankful to have the job I do, but I also have a tendency to be kind of whiny and self-absorbed sometimes.

It’s for this exact reason that I jumped at the opportunity to tag along on an awareness trip to Nicaragua with Unbound. I’d been itching for a new adventure for months, and aside from trips to Canada and Mexico, I’d never traveled internationally before. (It’s a personal fact I held close to the vest working alongside some of the most well-traveled people I’ve ever met.)

More than the travel experience, I was ready to see our program in action. In my daily work, I have the chance to read about it, hear about it, even try to write pithy web copy about it, but it’s impossible to fully understand what we do without traveling to the field myself. I needed to see and hear the impact our program was having on staff, sponsors and sponsored members. An awareness trip was the perfect opportunity to do just that.

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A Kenyan woman feeding chickens.
Sep 13 2017

Kenyan women turn to the earth for support

Three women get ahead through agriculture

Mothers across the world are unlocking their entrepreneurial spirit of with support from Unbound’s sponsorship program.

Margaret, Mariam and Jane, three women from Kenya, have explored opportunities to get ahead through agriculture. For Margaret and Jane, small loans from their Unbound mothers group helped them make their livelihoods a reality. Mothers groups comprise parents of sponsored children, including some dads. Together, the members of the group provide support and encouragement as they face trials of living in poverty.

While each woman has pursued a different agricultural venture, they’ve all been able to take another step in their journey toward economic self-sufficiency.

Margaret

A Kenyan woman feeding chickens.

Margaret feeds her chickens. She’s seen her poultry farm grow thanks to a small loan from her mothers group.


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