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.
Maria smiles while visiting with a guest. Though nearly deaf and blind, she is filled with joy in life.
Aging is in part a process of letting go. Abilities once relied upon begin to fail. Possessions once treasured can be lost or taken away. Sometimes these diminishments are slow and graceful and sometimes swift and cruel. But, for all who live long enough, they are inevitable.
Yet, for all that, there is a blessing in the ability to come to terms with our own human frailty and mortality. There is grace in the realization that, in the words of poet Theodore Roethke, “body from spirit slowly does unwind, until we are pure spirit at the end.”
That is part of the wisdom of the aging. It is a wisdom reflected in Maria.
Juan (left), who has since passed away, sings while another sponsored elder, Francisco, accompanies him on the guitar.
The world is host to a myriad of cultures and traditions, and in the Unbound community we have the opportunity to learn about ways people around the world express culture, history and faith. From poets to musicians to participants in nationwide celebrations, people sponsored through Unbound eagerly share their talents and passions with the world. This is the first of a two-part blog series highlighting arts and culture in our community. Keep reading
Eustaquia stands arm in arm with her husband, Felipe, outside their home. After his accident, she became the family’s main provider.
Eustaquia puts items that can be recycled into her cart.
People committed to recycling recognize beauty and worth in what others discard. Some also recognize a way to generate income. Eustaquia is an elder who recycles to earn a living. Now 76, she lives in Mexico with her husband, Felipe, whom she describes as her “wonderful companion.” Together, they raised seven children, now all grown and married.
Felipe was seriously injured in an accidental shooting 14 years ago, after which he suffered debilitating memory loss and was unable to work. As a result, Eustaquia needed to find a way to earn an income and began recycling.
Eusebio enjoys some time outdoors with his “soulmate,” wife Tiburcia.
Sometimes a person doesn’t realize how bad things have been until they begin to see how much better they can be.
That’s the way it was for sponsored elder Eusebio, 73, from Guatemala. Six years ago he injured his leg while collecting firewood. But because he couldn’t afford proper medical care, the wound never healed and eventually developed into a trophic ulcer.
When Eusebio became sponsored through Unbound in 2014, he was finally able to see a doctor. He learned just how close he had come to losing his leg and, possibly, his life. He began receiving treatment, which continues today.
Bolivian elder living out compassion and forgiveness
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.
Sponsored child Vianey outside her home in Mexico.
By Loretta Shea Kline, managing editor at Unbound
On Valentine’s Day we focus our love on those closest to us, and that’s a beautiful thing. My hope and prayer for this year’s observance is that we also make room in our hearts to love our neighbor, near and far.
The Catholic social teachings that are at the foundation of our work at Unbound call us to expand our understanding of “neighbor” — to embrace our sisters and brothers in our human family wherever they live and whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic and religious differences may be.
We’re called to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first, and respect the inherent dignity of every person.
Letter writing is an important part of the Unbound program. Letters connect sponsors with their sponsored friends, giving them a chance to learn about each other’s lives and offer encouragement.
But have you ever wondered about the journey your letter takes on its way to your sponsored friend? Watch this video, which illustrates the journey of a letter from a sponsor in the U.S. to her sponsored friend in the Philippines, to get a better idea of the effort and love that goes into delivering each letter.
Sponsored elder follows dream to go back to school
Cristina and her husband, Epifanio, in their home.
Whether it’s providing workshops for sponsored members and their families or encouraging children and youth to stay in school, education has always been a pillar of the Unbound program. And we know that each person has unique needs and abilities, so Unbound social workers work with sponsored members to find the education that’s the best fit, from taking formal classes during the week or opting for technical school or a training program.
With the assistance they receive from Unbound, individuals around the world are choosing to continue their education, and some are even able return to their studies after having to take a break. And Unbound doesn’t just limit the encouragement to children and youth. One of the best examples of this is sponsored elder Cristina from Guatemala. Cristina is 63 years old and has been a part of the Unbound program for more than four years.
Unbound's commitment to gentle, balanced leadership
Sponsored children of various religious backgrounds in Zamboanga, Philippines, come together to celebrate the Week of Peace in that city in November 2016.
The residents of Zamboanga, Philippines, set aside time every year to focus on one important thing: peace.
During the Week of Peace celebration in November, people of all ages come together to celebrate diversity and call for harmony. In a place where conflict is long-standing between rebel groups and the government, the people of Zamboanga are a strong symbol of what it truly means to accept and love one another, finding strength among their differences.