Maxensia shovels compost made from pig manure produced on her farm in Uganda. She uses it to fertilize her coffee plants. Maxensia’s son, Lawrence, 21, is sponsored by Albert in Washington.
Maxensia, a widowed mother of eight, tends to her coffee plants in a village in Uganda. Nearby, 11 pigs sunbathe in a sty built of rough wood.
At age 50, Maxensia has become an entrepreneur. Her pig farm is growing, and she also runs a small coffee farm.
After her husband died 17 years ago, Maxensia struggled to provide for her children’s basic needs. Her son, Lawrence, was sponsored in 2006, and she joined the Unbound support group for parents of sponsored children. Through the group, she got a boost toward economic self-sufficiency.
“I have gained a lot by being a member of the group,” Maxensia said. “I have been empowered to improve my life and that of my family.”
In Uganda, like in many other countries where Unbound works, parent groups serve as the foundation of the sponsorship program for children. When a child is sponsored, parents or guardians join the local group. They receive training from Unbound staff, save money by making small contributions to the group savings and gain access to loans. In parent groups, the impact of sponsorship is multiplied through the power of community.
Every week we offer a prayerful reflection from a member of the Unbound community. This week’s reflection was written by Senior Writer Larry Livingston.
Last week we observed the summer solstice, marking the longest day of the year. Going forward, the days will grow increasingly shorter and the nights longer, until December 21st and the beginning of a new cycle.
In Christian tradition, this time of year is symbolically associated with the birth of John the Baptist, just as the winter solstice is with the birth of Jesus. It was John who, knowing that his work served a purpose greater than himself, said of Christ, “He must increase; I must decrease” (John 3:30).
There is grace in the recognition that we are each called to serve a purpose greater than ourselves. When we choose to ‘decrease’ — in personal gratification, in ego fulfillment, in material comfort — for the sake of others, we follow the model of John the Baptist and, like him, give glory to Christ.
Loving God, thank you for our Unbound sponsors and the generosity that allows sponsored friends to ‘increase.’ As we reflect on the seasons of the year and the seasons of our lives, may we grow in the humility and compassion that allow us to serve others with joy, and may all we do reflect your goodness on the Earth. We ask this in your holy name. Amen.
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.
Maria and her 8-year-old son, Samuel, who is sponsored by Curtis and Susan from Louisiana, share a tender moment outside their home in Colombia.
A mother looks out at her neighborhood as the light creeps over the mountains, the crowing of roosters filling her ears. Her home sits high on a mountain, the city of Medellín sprawling before it.
The mother’s eyes pass over the half-finished wall at the front of her house. She and her husband have been building their home a little at a time over the years, and now have four finished rooms and a bathroom with running water.
She turns from the waking city and enters her home, ready to start breakfast. But first she peeks in at her four sleeping children in their shared bed. Soon they will be awake and getting ready for school.
A soft beeping fills the room as the mother turns to the cooktop. She takes her phone from her pocket and sees a small light flashing to indicate a new message.
The mother smiles as she reads the message. The monthly benefit money from Unbound was just delivered to her child’s sponsorship account, and she and her family already have a plan for how to use it to better their lives.
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.”
By Abby Melgren, volunteer outreach coordinator
Abby Melgren (right) rests with other Trailblazers after running the Hospital Hill Run 5K June 2.
Kelly and Kyle Akers have joy on their faces as they near the finish line. In addition to being a Trailblazer, Kelly is also the digital strategy manager for Unbound.
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.
Charles, father of a sponsored child in Uganda, displays freshly dried bricks, which he’ll soon sell to support his family.
It’s almost Father’s Day, and over the past weeks, we’ve been sharing the stories of inspiring dads in the Unbound community. Charles is a dad in Uganda who’s been working hard to make a good living to support his family. He took some time to share about his journey with Unbound communications liaison Regina Mburu.
It took a village
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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Blanca sits outside her home with her two youngest sons, Mynor (left) and Osber (right).
Blanca displays some of the trophies she has won at running competitions.
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.
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.
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, […]