Category: Unbound

An image of a Guatemalan woman holding a microphone.
Aug 7 2017

Understanding one young Mayan woman’s experience

An interview with a former sponsored member

An image of a Guatemalan woman holding a microphone.

Former sponsored member Selica Piloy shares her experiences as an indigenous Guatemalan woman at an event at Unbound’s international headquarters in Kansas City.


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.
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An image of Unbound employee Abby Melgren wearing a Trailblazer shirt.
Aug 5 2017

Mark your calendars!

Upcoming events in the Unbound community!

An image of Unbound employee Abby Melgren wearing a Trailblazer shirt.
Unbound’s Global Insight Series: Latin America

Join us at our Kansas City headquarters on September 13 for an evening of discovery with Unbound’s program coordinators from Bolivia, Guatemala and Honduras. They’ll share insights on our programs, with stories on the challenges families in their regions face and how sponsorship benefits are customized for each family.

Global Insight Series: Latin America
Wednesday, September 13, 2017 — 5:30-8 p.m., program begins at 6 p.m.
Unbound HQ — 1 Elmwood Ave., Kansas City, KS 66103

Visit unbound.org/insightseries to RSVP. The event is free, but space is limited.

Trailblazers at the Omaha Marathon

Unbound Trailblazers will be running and walking to raise awareness about Unbound at the Omaha Marathon, Half, 10K and 5K on September 17.

Interested in joining? The Omaha Marathon’s flat course and variety of distances provide a chance to challenge yourself as you step up and challenge poverty. You don’t need to be a competitive athlete to walk or run, you just need to possess a desire to change one life for good. You can even take part in a cheer section along the race route, if running or walking isn’t for you.
Visit our Trailblazer website or email outreach@unbound.org to join us in Omaha and learn more about getting involved as an Unbound Trailblazer.

Unbound Awareness Trips

In August and September, there will be a total of six awareness trips. Travelers will be visiting their sponsored friends in Honduras, Kenya, Uganda, Chile, Nicaragua and Guatemala. Please keep these travelers in your thoughts and prayers.
Interested in going on a future trip? Check out unbound.org/trips to learn more information and see all our trip dates for the next year.

An image of Unbound Program Coodinator Vincent Murmu.
Jul 31 2017

Exchange Trip to Africa 2017

Indian coordinators' reflections from Africa, part 3


Recently three of our program coordinators from India traveled to Kenya and Uganda to see how the Unbound program works in those countries. They had the opportunity to learn from their African coworkers and to experience the realities of families in Kenya and Uganda compared to India. This final reflection is from Vincent Murmu, the program coordinator for our Dumka office in India.

It is indeed exciting to visit the Unbound family on another continent. I, along with Seema,the coordinator in Chennai, and Selvaraj, the coordinator in Bhagalpur, and under the able leadership of our project director Amanda Heter from Unbound Kansas, had the wonderful opportunity to visit two Unbound projects in East Africa – Nairobi, Kenya and Kampala,Uganda.

It is like a dream come true landing on another continent. My eyes were fully opened with curiosity and excitement.
Read more!

An image of Unbound staff taking notes.
Jul 29 2017

Key learning points

Indian coordinators' reflections from Africa, part 2

An image of Unbound staff taking notes.

Selvaraj takes notes as Nairobi program evaluation team presents on how they conduct program evaluations at their office.


Recently three of our program coordinators from India traveled to Kenya and Uganda to see how the Unbound program works in those countries. They had the opportunity to learn from their African coworkers and to experience what poverty looks like in Kenya and Uganda compared to India. This second reflection is from Selvaraj P., the program coordinator for our Bhagalpur office in India.

Nairobi:

First of all, I congratulate the Nairobi Team for their cordial welcome and family spirit. The Nairobi team is composed of knowledge and experience, and they are excellent teachers and possess great communication skill. The love and excitement they bring to the program is a treat to watch and emulate. Team spirit, program focus, talent recognition, people centered policies and excellent leadership at the top level are some of the keys to their success. It is a team on the move with great attitude and commitment. Keep up the good work you do for the poor!
Read more!

An image of upturned hands.
Jul 22 2017

The resilience of the Venezuelan people

A letter from our program coordinator in Venezuela

An image of upturned hands.
Updated August 3, 2017

You may have seen news reports on the increasingly volatile situation in Venezuela over the past several months. Unbound is helping the families we serve there get through skyrocketing inflation, widespread food shortages and large-scale protests that have been occurring on a near daily basis. The Unbound program in Venezuela is located in Barquisimeto, where we serve more than 3,400 families.

Staff and families there face daily hardship caused by unrest and economic instability, such as lack of food, transportation or electricity. Teams in our headquarters in Kansas City and in nearby Colombia and Bolivia are doing their best to support the staff in Barquisimeto, who are working tirelessly to ensure sponsored members continue to receive benefits and support.

Eliezer J. Lobo R., Unbound’s general coordinator in Venezuela, recently wrote a letter addressed to those who sponsor children and elders in his country. He provided an update on how the situation there is affecting our sponsored members and their families, and how the families and our staff are innovating and adapting within the current reality. Because we know others have concerns about the situation in Venezuela, we’re sharing the letter here as well.

As we see over and over, despite the challenges, the families we work with are full of hope. They envision a better future for their children and for themselves. Unbound is there to partner with these families as they work to achieve their dreams, and we’re there to support them through their struggles.

We ask that you keep these families, and all the people of Venezuela, in your thoughts and prayers.
Read Eliezer’s letter

An image of a girl in traditional Guatemalan clothing riding a bike.
Jul 17 2017

This is what makes Unbound different

An image of a girl in traditional Guatemalan clothing riding a bike.

Sponsored child Merlyn, 12, enjoys riding her bike in the streets around her home in Guatemala. Merlyn’s parents, like others in the Unbound program, have a voice in choosing the benefits that best serve their family’s needs.


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.
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An image of an Unbound social worker in Guatemala meeting with a family.
Jul 3 2017

And the award goes to …

Unbound recognized for stories connecting readers with families, staff

Social worker Anibal Perez (right) visits with Angelica and Emerson, the mother and brother of sponsored child Ada in Guatemala. This photo was featured in a story that received second place in a feature writing category at the Catholic Press Awards.

Unbound is pleased to announce that we brought home two honors from this year’s Catholic Press Awards, sponsored by the Catholic Press Association.
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An image of uplifted hands.
Jun 26 2017

Changes coming to Unbound blog

Introducing Faith Reflections

An image of uplifted hands.
Unbound is rolling out changes to our blog line-up and scheduling starting this week! We’ll still post three times a week, but now it will be on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Also new will be the introduction of our Faith Reflections series, which will typically publish on Wednesday.

What are Faith Reflections?

Each week, Unbound delivers a faith-based reflection to inboxes around the world through our Prayer Partners email. These reflections cover a variety of topics, such as Unbound’s values or special observances, and offer the chance to join the Unbound community in reflection and prayer. Everyone is welcome to sign up to receive these emails, but we also want to make these reflections more accessible outside of the inbox.

From now on, we’ll also share the weekly reflections on the Unbound blog. This will make them easier to share with others or search for a specific topic, all without cluttering your inbox.

An image of the palms of hands.
Jun 21 2017

Fasting for solidarity

An image of the palms of hands.
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.”

An image of two runners crossing a finish line together.
Jun 19 2017

‘I’m running for a reason’

Reflections from Hospital Hill Run 2017


By Abby Melgren, volunteer outreach coordinator

When the summer heat is unbearable, and when the hill just a few paces away is unthinkable, one thing keeps me going: I’m running for a reason.

Unbound first took part in Hospital Hill Run in 2014, and later became one of the first Charity Partners. In 2014, the Unbound Trailblazer program was launched, giving both sponsors and Unbound supporters a way to support scholarship students through fundraising. The first Trailblazers quickly learned that the name of the race is a bit misleading. There’s not just one hill, but many.

However, the partnership is too important to let a few hills scare us off.
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