By Larry Livingston, senior writer
In Catholic tradition, a holy year is a time of special prayer, pilgrimage and grace. They normally occur every 25 years, but there can be exceptions for special occasions.
2016 is one of those exceptional years, with Pope Francis proclaiming this The Holy Year of Mercy. During this time, the pope has invited not only Catholics but all people of good will to enter into deeper reflection on the concept of mercy.
So let’s reflect a bit, through the lens of Unbound.
Suyapa, a former sponsored child, now works as a nurse.
Growing up in Honduras, former sponsored child, Suyapa, saw the need in her community. She witnessed this in the struggles her mother and family faced.
Growing up, conditions were difficult for Suyapa and her family.
Karen Allemang, trip and volunteer manager for Unbound, on an awareness trip in Guatemala.
By Karen Allemang, trip and volunteer manager for Unbound
As concerns grow about the spread and potential effects of the Zika virus, some of our sponsors have asked whether Unbound will cancel any of our planned trips to the field. Many of these sponsors are traveling with Unbound on an awareness trip and are excited to meet their sponsored friend for the first time.
I am happy to say that we have no plans to cancel any of our upcoming trips.
As part of our standard procedures, the awareness trip coordinators and I monitor current events that could impact travelers. Here is some of the key information we are reading from the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding Zika virus:
- “Until more is known, CDC recommends special precautions for pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant.”
- “Pregnant women (should) consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.” Read more.
- A WHO committee advised on Feb. 1, 2016, “The Committee found no public health justification for restrictions on travel or trade to prevent the spread of Zika virus. At present, the most important protective measures are the control of mosquito populations and the prevention of mosquito bites in at-risk individuals, especially pregnant women.”
Regardless of what is or isn’t making headlines, we urge all our travelers to read the CDC’s Traveler’s Health page and speak with a medical professional regarding travel and their health. We provide information useful for that conversation such as the elevation of the areas they’ll visit and whether or not the lodging is air conditioned. We also require pregnant travelers to obtain medical clearance from their doctor in order to travel with us.
Many illnesses can be avoided by preventing mosquito bites. We refer travelers to the CDC’s Mosquito Bite Prevention PDF for guidance on preventing mosquito bites. A favorite prevention method of our team is using Permethrin to treat clothing as directed by the CDC.
If you have questions or would like more information about the trips Unbound offers, please visit unbound.org/trips or email email@example.com.
Karen Allemang, trip and volunteer manager for Unbound
Reyna, mother of former sponsored child, Rogy, outside of her clothing store in the Dominican Republic.
On a bright sunny day in the Dominican Republic, Reyna stands across the street from the tree where it all began. She looks on feeling proud and accomplished.
She represents the dreams of Unbound.
Ingrid (right) and her mother Maria in their home.
Ingrid lives in Guatemala, where, according to the World Bank’s source Barro-Lee, on average girls complete about six years of schooling. In 2015, she graduated as a certified bilingual education teacher. Luis Cocon, communications liaison for Unbound in Guatemala, had the opportunity to meet Ingrid and hear her story during her final year of school before graduation.
Angela, a sponsored elder in El Salvador.
Angela, or Angelita, as she’s called by her family and friends, is a sponsored elder in El Salvador. She’ll celebrate her 71st birthday in March, but has gone through a lot to get to such a distinguished age.
“My childhood was very humble,” Angela said. “My father worked the land; he worked in everything that he could find. We were nine siblings, seven boys and two girls. … We all stayed in one room. A friend of my family lent us that room and it was made of adobe.
“We were living in extreme poverty. That’s why my siblings and I never went to school. Instead we had to work. I collected firewood, carried water to my house and washed clothes in a river.”
Cristabel (right) with her family outside their home.
Cristabel has big dreams for the future. She wants to graduate from high school, go to college and, someday, teach kindergarten.
At 12-years-old, Cristabel still has many years of studying before achieving her dreams, but she takes things one day at a time.
The staff of Unbound’s Quezon program in the Philippines gathers after attending a seminar on earthquake preparedness.
Being prepared for natural disasters helps alleviate fear, avoid panic and minimize injuries, loss of life and property damage.
That’s why the staff of Unbound’s Quezon program in the Philippines recently took part in a calamity preparedness seminar.
The seminar focused on earthquakes and was led by Joan Cruz-Salcedo, a supervising science research specialist with the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.
Haji proudly holds a soccer trophy he won .
Haji, holding his prized soccer shoes, shares a joyful moment with his grandmother, Tendeje.
Imagine the combined enthusiasm of Americans for the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball if it was focused on a single sport. That comes close to describing the passion people in many countries have for soccer.
Haji is a 15-year-old Tanzanian boy who has been sponsored for four years. Like many youth, he’s passionate about the sport most of the world calls football. What makes his story exceptional is that he has the skill to go along with the passion.