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.”
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
The Unbound world is full of people gathering up their courage and taking risks in order to find success. Our sponsored friends and their families give us amazing examples of how we can all be at our best for each other. The following stories are about three women from the Unbound world who exemplify this strength and teach us what it means to be courageous.
The courage to be honest
Yomira, left, teaches Unbound scholarship students Gisela and Anjely about the record system used by the Lima office in Peru. The students work in the office to fulfill community service requirements of the scholarship program.
Yomira, 22, is a former sponsored child who is now a full-time Unbound staff member in Lima.
Growing up in a small community outside of Lima, Peru, Yomira and her peers were confronted with drugs, gangs, prostitution and alcoholism. Relying on the values of her strong family and a healthy sense of self-esteem, Yomira was able to avoid these pitfalls. She channeled her energy into dance, where she performed with a group at schools and public events.
Difficulties did come, however, when Yomira became pregnant at a young age. Since she had established good communication with her Unbound sponsor, she decided to share the news with her.
“At first, I thought, ‘I’ve lost everything.’ My parents were upset with me, and I thought she [my sponsor] was not going to continue being my sponsor; I really did not know what to do,” Yomira said. “But she wrote me and told me that she was going to continue supporting me.
By Jordan Kimbrell, writer/editor
Transita smiles in welcome outside her home.
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.
By Regina Mburu, Unbound communications liaison for Africa
Former sponsored member George cooks a chapatti at his roadside food kiosk in Kenya.
With a smile on his face, George kneads and rolls the dough on a wooden table at his roadside food kiosk in Kenya. The cars tooting their horns, the speeding motorbikes and the pedestrians are not a distraction to him; in fact, the commuters and passersby are his clients. Every few minutes, someone walks up to him and buys a chapatti or mandazi, which are both snacks made of wheat flour.
The 23-year-old, toiling away at his makeshift stand, said, “This is not what I dreamt of doing, but my mistakes growing up led me here. I do not regret, though, because I am proud of what I have become.”
By Paco Wertin, church relations director for Unbound
Bob Hentzen entertains a group of children on a January 2013 awareness trip to Guatemala.
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.
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 […]