More than 1,500 sponsored children and youth participated in the 2015 Bob Hentzen Memorial Sports Day organized by Unbound staff in Hyderabad, India.
Apr 13 2015

The joy of 1,500 sponsored kids in India at play

Children and teenagers living in poverty don’t often get the chance to participate in organized sports. Participation fees and equipment costs add up, making sports a low priority for families struggling to afford basic necessities. So when Unbound staff in Hyderabad, India, organized the Bob Hentzen Memorial Sports Day, more than 1,500 kids sponsored through Unbound showed up for the event.

For Sarita Mendanha, program coordinator for Unbound in Hyderabad, the sports day is “extremely important to the India program because it builds team spirit, … [a] winning attitude [and] pride to carry away specially designed awards.” She also views the sports day as a way to build rapport between Unbound staff and the families they serve.

The day consisted of 15 different track and field events, such as tug of war, sack races, the traditional Indian game kho kho, shot put, discus throw and 100, 200, 400 and 800 meter dashes. Unbound staff had help from scholars and the participants’ mothers, and sports professionals were on hand to referee.

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Kenyan mothers from diverse faiths work together through Unbound mothers groups.
Apr 10 2015

Kenyans mourn while standing against violence


By Regina Mburu, communications liaison for Unbound in Africa

Editor’s note: There have been no reports of youth sponsored through Unbound being affected by the April 2 terror attack on Garissa University College in Kenya.

As the long Easter weekend approached, we were excited and busy making plans on how best to enjoy the holiday with loved ones.

Then we got the news that Garissa University College in the northeastern part of Kenya was under siege. The school is part of the Moi University system.

Terrorists had taken over the Garissa campus. With guns and knives, they took the young lives of 148 students.

Easter celebrations were dampened. The mood was somber as the whole nation was thrown into mourning. Our Kenyan flag, flying at half-mast, served as a symbol to honor the lost lives.

The news media reported that terrorists targeted students who were not of the Islamic faith. Tensions between Christians and Muslims heightened, even while leaders from both faiths condemned the attacks.

Unbound-Kenya serves beneficiaries from both Christian and Islamic religions. As a program, Unbound serves the two religions without favor. Members interact and live harmoniously with each other. Some have formed great friendships, thanks to the Unbound mothers groups.
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From left: Dora, Ana, Maria S., Maria Eva and Maria Y. are part of a mothers group through Unbound in Guatemala.
Apr 8 2015

Creating more choices for mothers in Guatemala

Mushrooms
Looking at this photo, you might see a work of art. A sculpture carefully crafted, textured and painted to convey a new meaning for each new angle it’s viewed from. Or maybe, and more accurately, you see a mushroom farm.

For Guatemalan mother Ana, this mound of chopped corncobs, corn husks and mushroom cultures represents another step toward economic self-sufficiency.

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Purity, 11, from Kenya.
Apr 6 2015

Help Purity find a sponsor

Purity’s morning routine in rural Kenya looks similar to that of many fourth graders in the U.S. — with a few important differences.

After her mom, Jane, wakes her at 6 a.m., Purity washes her face, gets dressed, eats breakfast, brushes her teeth and walks 15 minutes to school. But here’s where it’s a bit different.

The water Purity uses to wash her face and brush her teeth comes from an outdoor pump. Her mother makes breakfast over a wood fire. The home doesn’t have a latrine, and Purity has to go to a neighbor’s to use the bathroom.

“Digging a deep pit [latrine] costs money, which we do not have,” Jane shared. “… It has not been easy.”

Purity lives in a town about an hour outside Nairobi with her parents and three older brothers. Jane is a cook at a local school, and her husband sometimes gets jobs working on farms. Their combined income is only about $30 in a good month, and isn’t enough to support the family of six.

Covering school fees for Purity and her brothers is increasingly difficult. Their eldest son completed high school and would like to go on to college, but funds are too tight for him to do so.

Jane has seen the positive outcomes being part of the Unbound program has had for many of her neighbors, and hopes her family can experience the same. She knows sponsorship will help cover Purity’s school fees, making it possible for her to stay in school.

“I want Purity to have the best education,” Jane said. “I want her to study up to the highest level of education. I am sure with a good education, her future will be bright.”

Despite the hardships her family faces, Purity is still a very happy little girl. She enjoys school, where her favorite subject is science, she loves playing with her dogs and dreams of becoming a teacher someday so she can “teach children things that they do not know.”

When asked if she had a best friend at school, Purity said, “I do not have a best friend. I just have many friends who I play with. I like playing with everyone.”

Purity turned 11 yesterday. Make her birthday extra special this year by helping her get a sponsor.

Editor’s note: Since the publication of this post, Purity has been sponsored. Thank you for making her birthday special. Click here to view others still waiting for a sponsor.

Ashley in front of her home in Costa Rica.
Apr 3 2015

One step forward, never one backwards

Ashley in front of her home in Costa Rica.

Ashley in front of her home in Costa Rica.


“Do you feel poor?”

That’s how Henry Flores, director of the Unbound communications center in El Salvador, began his conversation with Ashley, a sponsored 15 year old from Costa Rica.

A difficult question to ask; an even tougher one to answer.

How could a teenager living in a poor community behind one of the largest shopping malls in the area, where she and her mother, Juana, can only see the walls that hide their reality from the beauty and fantasy of the department stores, answer a question like that?

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Rita, 24, from Kenya.
Apr 1 2015

Changing mindsets on educating girls

Rita, 24, from Kenya.

Rita, 24, from Kenya.

By Regina Mburu, communications liaison for Unbound in Africa

Twenty-four-year-old Rita recently graduated with a bachelor of arts in gender studies, sociology and political science from a renowned university in Kenya. She has worked hard to reach what she considers one of her greatest achievements, despite the many challenges she faced growing up.

Rita was born and raised in a remote area of central Kenya outside of Meru. Her father was polygamous, and her mother, Beatrice, was the third wife. She grew up with her 17 siblings. Rita’s mother worked as a teacher and her stepmothers were housewives.

In the traditional African setting, a man is allowed to take as many wives as he wants and sire as many children as he is able. A man’s worth was measured by the number of wives he had and the children borne to him.

“It was not easy growing up in a mixed family,” Rita said. “When my father passed on, life became unbearable.

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Elsa (right) and Colleen (left) worked together to share Unbound in their community.
Mar 30 2015

Tips for sharing Unbound

By Elsa Aguirre, Unbound sponsor and ambassador

Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Mathew 18:20).

I always thought about this scripture as referring to prayer. Yes, there is great power in praying together. But there is also great power in doing things together.

For many years, I had the desire to help get more children sponsored. But I never attempted hosting an information table at my local church.

That changed when I found a buddy.

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Sponsor Jennifer Afflerbach, center, with her sponsored friend Bryan and his mother, Sirlen, on a 2012 Costa Rica awareness trip.
Mar 27 2015

A vision of courage

Sponsor Jennifer Afflerbach, center, with her sponsored friend Bryan and his mother, Sirlen, on a 2012 Costa Rica awareness trip.

Sponsor Jennifer Afflerbach, center, with her sponsored friend Bryan and his mother, Sirlen, on a 2012 Costa Rica awareness trip.

By Jennifer Afflerbach, Unbound sponsor

Eight simple words of encouragement: “I can tell you are a good mother.”

That’s what I wrote to Sirlen, the mother of Bryan, the child I sponsor in Costa Rica. Little did I know what a profound effect it would have on her — and on me.

“Thank you for saying that,” she wrote back. “Your letter brought tears to my eyes.”

And her letter brought tears to mine, as I envisioned this strong, courageous mother of four children under the age of 8 being buoyed by such a small gesture on my part.

I knew I had to meet this woman. So I went on an awareness trip to Costa Rica the next year. When we met face to face, it was as if we were old friends — we connected instantly.

And my instinct had been right — she is a very good mother.

After the visit, when I wrote and inquired about their long journey home on mountainous roads, she replied that the trip wasn’t the most difficult part, the goodbye was.

Again, she brought tears to my eyes.

Sponsorship may cost $30 a month, but you can’t put a price tag on the relationship.

Start the journey of sponsorship today.

Flor helps tend an herbal and vegetable garden with other elders near Quezon City, Philippines.
Mar 25 2015

Growing a community

By Scott Wasserman, president and CEO of Unbound

At the age of 74, Flor tends Unbound’s community herbal and vegetable garden near Quezon City, Philippines. Her home is made of hollow blocks, a cement floor and a roof of galvanized iron sheets. She has no electricity and draws her water from a community well.

She used to support herself by scavenging recyclable materials from a local trash dump. Since 2002, her sponsorship has allowed her to meet with other sponsored elders at their garden to enjoy community and recreation.

On the day we visited, an Unbound social worker led a conversation with Flor and her friends about elder rights. They learned to identify and resist abuse.

After the social worker’s presentation, Flor led us through Unbound’s community garden. She identified each plant and described its medicinal qualities. Some plants are believed to help with colds or headaches. Others fortify the heart. Some heal inflammation or wounds.

Flor works as an informal healer. Families call her to help with their illnesses, and she prescribes natural herbal cures.

She charges her neighbors whatever they can afford, even if it’s only one Philippine peso, or about 2 cents. She asks that they pay something: Flor believes that paying for her services aids in the healing process.

Regardless of the efficacy of her herbs, her visits uplift her neighbors. A poor, ill neighbor living in a dark home can count on Flor to deliver a smile along with her freshly picked flowers and herbs. With her gift of springtime warmth for her homebound neighbors, Flor lives up to her name, which means “flower.”

Become an uplifting presence. Sponsor an elder today.

Jéssica sits in the doorway of her home in Mexico.
Mar 23 2015

‘My humble gift for [my sponsor]’

Thinking of her childhood home, one thing stands out for Jéssica.

“We could see the stars at night,” she said.

That was only because the roof on her home was so bad she could see the sky through the holes.

Jéssica, now 24, lives with her parents and four siblings in Mexico. And she remembers finances were tight at home.

“I could not have things that I wanted and needed,” she explained. “I recycled notebooks, school supplies, school bags and anything I could for the following year.”

While her friends were out having fun, Jéssica could be found packing groceries at the local supermarket, earning $6 USD on a good day, to help her parents make ends meet. She was just 13.

But something changed six years ago.

David became her sponsor.

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Thinking of her childhood home, one thing stands out for Jéssica. “We could see the stars at night,” she said. That was only because the roof on her home was so bad she could see the sky through the holes. Jéssica, now 24, lives with her parents and four siblings in Mexico. And she remembers finances were tight at home. […]

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