Jeff Smith, Amy Benoist and their sponsored friend, Sravanthi, pause for a photo outside Sravanthi’s home in India. Jeff and Amy visited Sravanthi as part of an Unbound Awareness Trip.
When Amy Benoist and Jeff Smith of St. Louis got married in 2015, little did they know they’d have a second wedding just two years later — in India.
A sponsor through Unbound since 2012, Amy had planned to visit her sponsored friend, 19-year-old Sravanthi of India, as soon as she was able to save up the vacation time. In October of last year, she and Jeff set out on an Unbound Awareness Trip to meet Sravanthi and experience the beauty of India together.
Amy had written to Sravanthi six months earlier to let her know she and Jeff were planning to visit. That’s when Sravanthi’s family got the idea to surprise the couple with a traditional Indian wedding ceremony.
Unbound’s Global Insight Series: Latin America
Join us at our Kansas City headquarters on September 13 for an evening of discovery with Unbound’s program coordinators from Bolivia, Guatemala and Honduras. They’ll share insights on our programs, with stories on the challenges families in their regions face and how sponsorship benefits are customized for each family.
Global Insight Series: Latin America
Wednesday, September 13, 2017 — 5:30-8 p.m., program begins at 6 p.m.
Unbound HQ — 1 Elmwood Ave., Kansas City, KS 66103
Visit unbound.org/insightseries to RSVP. The event is free, but space is limited.
Trailblazers at the Omaha Marathon
Unbound Trailblazers will be running and walking to raise awareness about Unbound at the Omaha Marathon, Half, 10K and 5K on September 17.
Interested in joining? The Omaha Marathon’s flat course and variety of distances provide a chance to challenge yourself as you step up and challenge poverty. You don’t need to be a competitive athlete to walk or run, you just need to possess a desire to change one life for good. You can even take part in a cheer section along the race route, if running or walking isn’t for you.
Visit our Trailblazer website or email firstname.lastname@example.org to join us in Omaha and learn more about getting involved as an Unbound Trailblazer.
Unbound Awareness Trips
In August and September, there will be a total of six awareness trips. Travelers will be visiting their sponsored friends in Honduras, Kenya, Uganda, Chile, Nicaragua and Guatemala. Please keep these travelers in your thoughts and prayers.
Interested in going on a future trip? Check out unbound.org/trips to learn more information and see all our trip dates for the next year.
John Harney from Arizona visits with his sponsored friends Juan and Karen on an awareness trip to Colombia in May 2017.
An Unbound Awareness Trip is the ultimate opportunity to see the work of Unbound firsthand. Whether you travel to meet your sponsored friend or simply experience the beauty of another culture, your experience on an awareness trip will be like no other.
We’ll be your guides all along the way on this affordable and exceptional experience. Sponsors and non-sponsors alike are invited to travel to any of the 14 countries we’re journeying to in 2018, or check out a trip later this year — there’s still time to sign up!
Unbound sponsor Joseph Rivard of Gulfport, Mississippi traveled to Colombia in May on an Unbound Awareness Trip. He joined Unbound as a sponsor less than a year before the trip, and sponsors three young men in Latin America. Joseph is a retired professor of psychology at Central Michigan University. He reflects on how the trip impacted his faith.
Sponsor Joseph Rivard (right) visits with his sponsored friend, 17-year-old Jan Sebastian, at Jan’s home in Colombia.
Like most Americans and others living in a “first-world” country, life is never perfect. Every Christian I know has a story to tell; stories that speak of the death of a loved one, sickness, stress in a career, family trouble, etc. Each of us, armed with faith, endeavor to overcome our own struggles. We journey through our lives doing the best we can to work through our own deficiencies while trying to understand and serve God in the midst of our confusing and sometimes tumultuous life journey.
When I left for Colombia in May, I knew this trip would be different from other mission-style trips I have made in the past. I knew it would be different, simply because God is always about things “now” and “new.” There were a lot of things in my life journey that could have justified not going on this trip, because life is that way — always filled with challenges and obstacles. Yet, whenever I quieted my worries, I was convinced in my heart that this trip was something God was calling me to do. He didn’t command me to go; God has never arbitrarily demanded things of me in that way. It was more of a gentle stirring and a pull on my heart that communicated invitation and opportunity.
By Maureen Lunn, writer/editor
Unbound staff member Maureen Lunn from Kansas City at an overlook in Medellin, Colombia.
A sign on the wall of an Unbound program office in Cartagena, Colombia.
I’ve had the privilege of trotting around the globe quite a lot in my life thus far, and by my mid-30s had set foot on every continent except South America. (Well, and Antarctica. But that doesn’t really count, does it?) So when I had the opportunity recently to travel to Colombia with Unbound, I knew it was going to be a special journey. I was right.
A week in Medellin and four days in Cartagena provided some of the most exceptional cultural experiences I’ve ever had, some of the craziest views I’ve ever seen and some of the warmest people I’ve ever met. Here are 10 impressions that have really stuck with me from my 10 days in the country.
Visit communities like this one in Honduras.
Learn about the livelihood projects of parents, such as making these hammocks, when you visit Nicaragua.
Looking for a meaningful getaway this summer? Why not go on an awareness trip with Unbound?
Unbound awareness trips offer an adventure like no other, all under the careful guidance of our staff in Kansas City and the country where you travel. From arranging your accommodations, itinerary, meals and in-country transportation, to connecting you with sponsored members and their families to learn about their lives, Unbound staff members are your guides.
There are still spots open for our August trips to Honduras and Nicaragua.
“Until one meets and experiences the child or elder in the home and sees how many people in the country live in poverty, a poverty that challenges their existence and that of their children, one cannot really understand how Unbound positively impacts their lives.” — Margaret from Minnesota
“I was impressed by the happiness and spirit of people who live in poverty. They are affectionate, outgoing and appreciative of everything they have.” — Nancy from Georgia
“I gained a better understanding of how people live in another culture through this trip.” — Mariellyn from Minnesota”
Can’t make those dates but still want to travel with Unbound? Visit unbound.org/trips to see the full schedule.
Sponsor Cathy (right) gives a squeeze to a sponsored elder, Blanca, on an awareness trip to El Salvador. Cathy and Bill from Wisconsin sponsor 5-year-old Jennifer in El Salvador.
Unbound is pleased to announce the new Global Points Program
(formerly known as the Ambassador Points Program). As an Unbound supporter, you can earn points toward an awareness trip through sharing the word about Unbound! Keep reading
Yvonne and her sponsor, Bridget.
A poem can relay emotion and meaning in a very distinctive way, and in honor of National Poetry Month, we want to share with you the poetic words of an Unbound sponsored youth and the effect they had on her sponsor.
On a recent Unbound awareness trip to Kenya, sponsor Bridget Burpee was presented with a poem written just for her. Visiting her sponsored friend, Yvonne, for the second time in her eight years of sponsorship, Bridget was warmly welcomed in Nairobi by Yvonne and her mother, Lucy.
This trip was different from her first visit eight years before. Yvonne had just lost her father in a car accident when Bridget came to visit shortly after beginning the sponsorship. At that time, Yvonne and her mother, Lucy, were hesitant about this new person coming into their lives.
David and his son, Nick, (second row, third and fourth from left) on an awareness trip to Honduras in August, 2014.
From left: Nick, Reyna and David
Massachusetts sponsor David Scarpello has gone on three Unbound awareness trips to Honduras since 2007. On his latest visit earlier this year, he decided to take his 13-year-old son, Nick. From his own previous experience, David knew the awareness trip could be a good learning tool.
“I wanted [Nick] to have an appreciation and better understanding of what growing up in poverty is,” David said. “I hoped it would give him a greater appreciation of what he has and the advantages he has growing up in the United States.”
Unbound awareness trips offer travelers the opportunity to meet the people they sponsor and see first-hand the impact our program has on individuals and communities. David started sponsoring in 2001, but it was the letter he received in 2007 from his sponsored friend Reyna that gave him the final push he needed to go on his first trip.
Sponsored youth in Bolivia share their thanks through traditional Bolivian dances.
Stacy King, CFCA awareness trip coordinator, helps plan and arrange awareness trips in cooperation with our field staffs around the world.