Category Archives: Unbound

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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An image of an Indian woman cutting excess plastic off bottles.
Jun 14 2017

Living Unbound: In photos

Photo stories of empowerment

It took a village
An image of 10-year-old Jonah sitting outside his school in Kampala, Uganda.
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.
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An image of Blanca wearing her running medals.
Jun 12 2017

Running for love

Guatemalan mom dedicated to family, sport


People go running for many reasons. Some do it to get healthy, some for the competition and some to support a cause. Blanca is a 29-year-old mom of four living in Guatemala whose daughter, Berberlin, 13, is sponsored by Wayne from Montana. Blanca is also a runner. Her main reason for running is simple: to support her family.
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An image of a father in the Philippines rappelling down a building.
Jun 9 2017

Serving communities together

Dads in the Philippines join forces for safety and support

An image of a father in the Philippines rappelling down a building.

ERPAT dad Heracleo practices rappelling down a building, which could help him rescue others in case of earthquakes or fires.


Fathers are expected to be many things. They are expected to be providers, teachers, moral exemplars, and to strike the delicate balance between protecting their children and preparing them for life in a sometimes harsh world.

Responsible fatherhood is difficult, which is why those dads who dedicate themselves to being honorable, life-giving fathers deserve to be applauded. More than that, they deserve to be supported.

Support is especially important for fathers living in poverty. These dads, because they lack material resources, often find themselves in the heartbreaking position of not being able to serve their families as they’d like. They are hindered from providing things for their children that other fathers take for granted, like adequate food, decent housing, and basic education and health care.

Unbound recognizes that we have a particular role in helping to build up fathers and mothers who struggle to provide for their families. We’ve learned over the years that what they need from us is not to take over their lives or do for them what they wish to do for themselves. Rather, our role is to help clear a path for these families toward self-sufficiency, and then let them walk it at their own pace.
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An image of Monica Gomez, Antioquia program coordinator, from Colombia.
Jun 7 2017

Q&A with Monica Gomez, Antioquia program coordinator

Colombian staffer gives insight into working with families

An image of Monica Gomez, Antioquia program coordinator, from Colombia.

Monica Gomez, Antioquia program coordinator, from Colombia.


When you have a personalized benefit program model the way Unbound does, it means each family gets a say in how their sponsorship resources are used. And because we have more than 300,000 sponsored members, it means that we don’t have just one program to fit everyone, but thousands of individual programs, each based on the needs of a sponsored child or elder.

To achieve this type of program, you have to have some very dedicated staff members who understand the communities they’re working with. Thankfully, Unbound has found many passionate, caring people to partner with families in creating positive change.

In Colombia, we’ve started implementing personalized benefits through child bank accounts, working with families to make their own budgets to help them achieve their goals. Antioquia program coordinator Monica Gomez offers insights into what it’s like working with families using a personalized benefit model.
Read the Q&A!

Image = Domingo works on homework. He's learning how to balance being a student with being a husband and father.
Jun 2 2017

Opportunity of a lifetime

Guatemalan dad goes back to school

Image = Domingo works on homework. He's learning how to balance being a student with being a husband and father.

Domingo works on homework. He’s learning how to balance being a student with being a husband and father.


Throughout his life, Domingo from Guatemala has had many roles. He’s a father, husband, fisherman, brother and dreamer. And now, at the age of 47, he’s also an Unbound scholar.

“I have always wanted to go to school,” Domingo shared, “it’s just that I was born into circumstances that prevented me from doing it. I had sadness in my heart because I wanted to learn, I wanted to be able to read and write like my friends. I have waited for the opportunity all of my life.”
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Image = Jeanalyn works on a costume in the costume shop at Gloria de Dapitan.
May 26 2017

Working in a fantasyland

Filipina mom creates fantastical costumes

Image = Jeanalyn works on a costume in the costume shop at Gloria de Dapitan.

Jeanalyn works on a costume in the costume shop at Gloria de Dapitan.


Often, when people think of the island of Mindanao in the Philippines, they think of news headlines about separatist groups and violence. And while these are issues residents have to deal with, there is also plenty of joy to be found on the Philippines’ southernmost island.

Jeanalyn is helping add to the joy. The 44-year-old mother of three works at one of the most famous theme parks in the Philippines: Gloria de Dapitan (Gloria’s Fantasyland). The park is about seven hours northeast of Zamboanga, where Unbound’s main program office for Mindanao is located. Jeanlyn’s oldest daughter, Jeanrose,11, is sponsored by John and Mary from Georgia.

If you were to visit the theme park, you wouldn’t meet Jeanalyn as you walk its pathways, but you’d see her creations being worn by performers. As head of the costume department, Jeanalyn is allowed to let her creativity shine.


“My job here is really to sew the costumes of the performers for the show,” she said. “They just give me the skits and looks from the web [for inspiration], and I’ll be the one to think of the way to make it — which fabric to use, accessories to use and the linings to make it elegant to look at. Costumes of fairies, animals, dwarfs, even magicians and dancers, that’s what I do.”

Jeanalyn learned how to sew from her grandmother and has been sewing since she was 15-years-old. Her husband, Roseller, used to be a farmer, but has since learned how to sew from Jeanalyn and now works with her in the costume shop. With the daily wear on the costumes, she needs the additional help to keep them in good shape, as creating new ones takes time.

“It takes just one day [to make] if the costume is not that complicated, but if it is complicated and they need five or more pieces of it, it will take two to three days to finish it,” Jeanalyn said.

Jeanalyn would like to open her own shop someday, but for now she’s grateful for her job and the help she receives from her daughter’s sponsors, which made it possible for her to stay close to her family instead of taking a job abroad.

“There’s a lot of work offered for me abroad, but I didn’t accept it. I don’t want to be far from my family,” Jeanalyn said. “Thank you to the sponsor of my daughter and to Unbound because you’ve been a great help for us.”

Help a family in need. Sponsor today.

Image = Emma with her sons, Jekim and Mark, and her husband, Danilo.
May 24 2017

Living Unbound: It’s difficult to overcome poverty without backup


By Loretta Shea Kline, managing editor for Unbound

One reason it’s hard for families in poverty to get ahead is the lack of a financial cushion.

An illness, a natural disaster or a job loss can mean starting over when you have little or no savings. That vulnerability is something Unbound helps families address with support from sponsorship.

Our programs around the world help families build their capacity for personal and economic growth. Local staff works with families to set goals and make plans to achieve them. The aim is for families to be able to meet their basic needs through a combination of income they earn, access to capital and sponsorship benefits.

A key component on the path to self-sufficiency is savings.
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Melissa Armitage takes a break from processing child profiles at her desk at Unbound's Kansas City headquarters.
May 22 2017

From digital fields to real friends

Four steps to receiving your sponsored friend’s story

Melissa Armitage takes a break from processing child profiles at her desk at Unbound's Kansas City headquarters.

Melissa Armitage takes a break from processing child profiles at her desk at Unbound’s Kansas City headquarters.


By Melissa Armitage, campaign fulfillment manager

Close your eyes for a moment and imagine you’re sitting at a desk, carefully reading over a document. You check it for grammar, style and clarity. Now, think of doing that for 30,000 documents every year.

Sounds like a challenge, doesn’t it?

That’s a glimpse of the process Unbound’s Child Services Department undertakes every day to share the stories of families awaiting sponsorship.
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