Category: Unbound

May 26 2018

What We Learn When We Listen

Rosa displays the small store she runs out of her home in El Salvador. Like many mothers of sponsored children, Rosa was able to finance her business with a loan from her local Unbound mothers group.

In 2017, Unbound concluded an extensive evaluation aimed at gaining a deeper understanding of empowerment as experienced by mothers in the Unbound program A key finding from the survey was that more women in the Unbound program have their own businesses and fewer are unemployed than mothers on the waiting list. Half of Unbound mothers surveyed reported having complete choice in deciding or changing their occupations, compared with just more than 40 percent of mothers on the waiting list.

“That is something our program specifically tries to accomplish, helping women start their own livelihoods, gain that sort of economic control,” Becky Findley, international evaluations manager for Unbound, said.

The evaluation also found that mothers in the Unbound program were generally happier than those in the wait-list group, and that they reported being more involved in making decisions within their households and communities. About 40 percent of Unbound mothers said they had complete choice in making important decisions that could change the course of their lives, while 30 percent of wait-list mothers said they had total freedom in that area.

“We see mothers as being gatekeepers to change,” Findley said. “When you empower a mother you are empowering a family. By empowering the mother you are providing better care for the child.

“So it’s catalytic. You empower one mother and then she becomes an agent of change.”
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May 19 2018

Mothers: ‘Gatekeepers to Change’

The “Hope of Life” mothers group, formed by mothers of sponsored friends in Guatemala.


Empowered mothers are a force for positive change. Unbound’s program model is based on that conviction. And new survey results indicate the program contributes to mothers’ empowerment in employment, decision-making, community involvement and other areas.

In 2017, Unbound concluded an extensive evaluation aimed at gaining a deeper understanding of empowerment as experienced by mothers in the Unbound program. Seven hundred mothers at 26 Unbound program sites in Asia, Africa and Latin America participated.

The study focused on three indicators of empowerment that align with what Unbound aims to achieve and have also been validated in external research: increased choices in life, positive change and greater personal control. The responses of the mothers in the Unbound program were compared to responses from mothers of children on a waiting list for sponsorship. This provided an “apples to apples” comparison of families in similar circumstances, and provided an understanding of how the sponsorship program contributes to the empowerment of mothers.
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Vincent Murmu and Rose Muiruri present at Unbound's Global Insight Series.
May 12 2018

An investment in mothers that makes sense

By Gustavo Aybar, communications field liaison coordinator

One of the smartest ways to help a child is to invest in a mom.

That was a central message at our third event in the Unbound Global Insight Series, which brought program coordinators Vincent Murmu from India and Rose Muiruri from Tanzania to share their perspectives as frontline staff.

Audience members listen to Unbound’s Andrew Kling, community outreach and media relations director, as he introduces speakers for the spring 2018 Global Insight Series at Unbound’s international headquarters in Kansas City.


The April 25 event at our Kansas City headquarters drew 193 people, while more than 2,500 online users participated via Facebook Live. The evening included presentations by each guest speaker, a question-and-answer portion and a “reverse” Q&A, in which the speakers had a chance to ask questions of the audience.

The coordinators’ accounts illustrated the benefits of entrusting the mothers of sponsored children to make program decisions. These women develop, sharpen and then utilize essential life skills to sustain their families, and they have endured and overcome obstacles that many would describe as insurmountable.
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May 5 2018

Because moms are never alone

Sleep is hard to come by. A moment of solitude? Not going to happen. Second-guessing the parenting decisions they make daily? Yes.
Add all that stress to living in poverty — any mom would be overwhelmed.

So how do moms keep their families moving forward? Because they’re master multitaskers. Because they mean business when it comes to setting goals. Because they get the job done no matter what. Because moms are stronger together. #becausemoms

Watch now!

Three Kenyan moms look at paperwork together.
Apr 25 2018

Because we’re better together

Moms around the world understand the need for community. Whether it’s a monthly play date, a Facebook moms group, or a relative close by to lend a hand, community lightens the load, tells us we aren’t alone and becomes our own personal cheering section.

Three Kenyan moms look at paperwork together.

Alice, Lucy and Virginia are members of a mothers group in Kenya. They work together to set goals and create plans to achieve them.

It’s this notion of community that’s foundational to why Unbound is different. Our field staffs help to organize and encourage small groups of women across the Unbound world, to not only help the women leverage their knowledge of their families’ needs, aspirations and talents, but to take full advantage of their own skillsets. Because of their expertise, these moms are well positioned as primary decision makers in our program. We let them shine while remaining available to offer support and encouragement along the way.
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Apr 21 2018

We’re bringing an event to you April 25


Unbound will broadcast our spring Global Insight Series on Facebook Live Wednesday, April 25! We know not everyone can make it to our Kansas City headquarters, so we’re bringing the event to you. Tune in on Facebook from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Central time to learn more about how — and why — Unbound programs around the world are investing more and more in the leadership of the mothers of sponsored children.

Unbound coordinators Rose Muiruri of Tanzania and Vincent Murmu of India will share some of the distinct challenges facing families in their communities, and how mothers who make less than $4 a day are upending conventional wisdom about charity — and challenging our own expectations of what is possible.

Unbound’s Global Insight Series features frontline staff from around the world who walk shoulder-to-shoulder with families on their paths out of poverty. These on-the-ground experts deeply understand the joys and challenges of collaborating with families working to build a better future for their children.

Do you have a question that you’d like to ask Rose or Vincent during the event? Go to our Facebook page and submit a question for one of our coordinators at any time. Then, tune in at 6 p.m. CST on April 25 and you may hear the answer to your question.

Want to attend the event in person? Visit Unbound.org/insightseries to reserve your spot today!

Transita smiles in welcome outside her home.
Apr 7 2018

‘I will fight for my dreams’

Transita smiles in welcome outside her home.


By Jordan Kimbrell, writer/editor

I recently had a conversation with my grandmother about dreams. We talked about how sometimes they evolve as we mature, or even fade away to be replaced by new ones. I once dreamed of becoming a professional actress (I even started out as a theater major), but anyone who had seen me as a child with my nose constantly in a book wouldn’t be surprised to learn my dream had changed and I ended up as a writer/editor.

What is true of most dreams is that, for them to become reality, they require hard work. For me that meant going back to get my master’s. Luckily, I received a teaching assistantship and had access to student loans to make my educational dreams a reality. But these resources aren’t always available in places where Unbound works, and even with an Unbound sponsorship, once a student reaches upper levels of education the cost may be more than she can afford.

That was the reality Transita, 26, in Guatemala faced when she graduated high school in 2013. She’s been sponsored since 2003, but the many expenses that go along with college were simply more than the sponsorship could help with.
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Mar 24 2018

Being present for others

Bob Hentzen entertains a group of children on a January 2013 awareness trip to Guatemala.


By Paco Wertin, church relations director for Unbound

It’s been a while now, Roberto, since you’ve been gone, and every time your birthday comes up, we remember you and give thanks for the gift you were and continue to be for us all here at Unbound.

This sentiment echoes in my heart as March 29 approaches.

Bob Hentzen, co-founder of Unbound, was our teacher. It was in his bones. He joined the Christian Brothers and taught school in the United States, in Guatemala and in Colombia. Then something profound happened. Bob fell in love with the people he served and became their student, learning from them and opening his heart to the power of their love.
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Asma demonstrates how her water filtration system works.
Mar 17 2018

Mom provides filtered water to her community in India

Asma demonstrates how her water filtration system works.


By Gustavo Aybar, communications field liaison coordinator

What I remember most about visiting my home country of the Dominican Republic as a child centers around lack of access to clean, fresh, hot water. Life in the DR was very different and less comfortable than life in the United States. For example, I discovered there was considerable money, time and energy involved in having water readily available. I still remember the day as a 10-year-old I saw my “crush” walking toward me, lugging a full gallon of water in each hand, having recently visited the watering hole for her family.

As World Water Day approaches on March 22 and people everywhere ponder the issue of clean water, I wanted to share how one woman I met in India, Asma, and her family combat the problem of access to potable water. Asma, her husband, Jaleel, and their son and daughter welcomed my coworkers and me into their home in Hyderabad, which they rent from a friend. The home also functions as the facility for the small mineral water plant the family started just a few years ago.

The U.N.’s World Water Day organization said 2.1 billion people around the world lack access to safely managed drinking water services. In addition, an estimated 1.8 million people get their drinking water from an unimproved source, with no protection against contamination from human waste, the U.N. said.

Contaminated and polluted water is a huge problem in India. Sewage, garbage and other waste discharged into lakes and rivers are contributors. Unsafe practices by factories also poison the water with chemicals and toxins.

These realities make Asma’s role a vital one. The water business allows her to do fulfilling work that provides an important service to the community.
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Mar 10 2018

Returning to their roots

Cecile and Raul Villarreal with their sons, Alex (far left) and Lou (center), and their sponsored friends, Hector (second from left) and Magdalena (far right).


Last summer, Cecile Villarreal traveled with her husband, Raul, and two sons, Alex and Lou, to Guatemala on an Unbound awareness trip. Alex and Lou, who were adopted by Cecile and Raul, were born in Guatemala, and this was their first time visiting their birth country. In this interview, Cecile shares with contributing writer Maureen Lunn about taking an Unbound adventure with her family.

Maureen: How long have you been involved with Unbound, and what led you to initially become a sponsor?

Cecile: We started sponsoring our first child, Magdalena, in 2005. We had adopted my oldest son, Alex, from Guatemala in 2000 and had become part of an association of parents who had done the same. In one of the association meetings, an adoptive parent introduced Unbound to us, and we picked Magdalena that very same day. A few years later, we started sponsoring Manuelito. We felt that was a great way to be useful and to keep contact with our sons’ heritage.
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