A room in Henry’s apartment in Medellin on one of his first nights there.
By Henry Flores, communications liaisons director
My family and I moved to Colombia, South America, from El Salvador about one year ago. We wanted to give our children a new international education experience and Unbound had an open position for a communications liaison in the country. It was a great opportunity for Unbound, my family and me.
I decided to come in advance of my family to make a path, find a place to live, get life organized, etc. While moving within one’s own country isn’t easy, it still allows for the same social, economic and cultural structure. Moving to another country is a completely different scenario.
When I moved to California, U.S.A., back in 1989, I arrived in a Salvadoran community. I had my relatives, Salvadoran restaurants, food, markets and traditions that were familiar to me. I felt part of my own culture and idiosyncrasy; I had a network. Here in Colombia, I’ve only met one Salvadoran in my new city of Medellin.
Monica Gomez, Antioquia program coordinator, from Colombia.
When you have a personalized benefit program model the way Unbound does, it means each family gets a say in how their sponsorship resources are used. And because we have more than 300,000 sponsored members, it means that we don’t have just one program to fit everyone, but thousands of individual programs, each based on the needs of a sponsored child or elder.
To achieve this type of program, you have to have some very dedicated staff members who understand the communities they’re working with. Thankfully, Unbound has found many passionate, caring people to partner with families in creating positive change.
In Colombia, we’ve started implementing personalized benefits through child bank accounts, working with families to make their own budgets to help them achieve their goals. Antioquia program coordinator Monica Gomez offers insights into what it’s like working with families using a personalized benefit model.
Read the Q&A!
Jane and her son, Jonah, who is sponsored through Unbound and has been cared for by many other mothers in the community.
From left: Annet, Sarah and Joyce, members of the Unbound mothers group who supported and cared for Jonah while his mother was away working.
“We are all family,” said Annet, a mother who chairs an Unbound parents group in Uganda. “We keep check of each other.”
It’s not a stretch to say that without this community care, 10-year-old sponsored child Jonah’s life might have turned out differently.
The families Unbound works with around the world face significant challenges in creating a better future for their children.
Claudia, right, with sponsored child Josesuan, center, and her mother, Evelin.
By Claudia Vázquez-Puebla, outreach volunteer director for Unbound
Thirty-three years ago, my father made the decision to move our family from Zacatecas, Mexico, to the U.S. Having four daughters and a son, he wanted all of us to have an opportunity to get an education and have better options for our futures.
Many generous people guided and cared for us as we were welcomed into schools and communities in Oklahoma and Kansas. This afforded us opportunities to earn college degrees and work in careers focused on giving back to our communities.
In the last four years, I’ve had the opportunity to travel with Unbound to Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, the Philippines and, most recently, India. All of these countries are characterized by vibrant cultures, patriotism, passionate Unbound staff and, most importantly, sponsored members overcoming poverty. The families that I met have grounded me spiritually and challenged me to think about my needs versus my wants. These are important lessons that have reminded me of my own journey out of poverty.
Peter in Kenya displays some of the benefits he chooses from his Unbound sponsorship, including rice and soap. He says that benefits like this give him peace of mind.
Peter is a 68-year-old man in Kenya who is one of 30,000 elders around the world sponsored through Unbound. Like Peter, these men and women are pursuing better health and nutrition, stabilizing their incomes and enjoying newfound community among their fellow sponsored elders. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing stories of these inspiring aging friends around the world.
Maria, 22, is a former sponsored member who now works as a social worker for Unbound while pursuing a nursing degree.
Children learn many things from their parents. Maria, 22, from Costa Rica, is going to school to become a nurse, has a job as a social worker with Unbound and is a former sponsored member and scholarship recipient through Unbound. She credits her parents, Francisco and Maria, with teaching her and her eight siblings many important lessons. One of the many values she and her brothers and sisters have learned from their parents’ example is the importance of hard work.
“We have always worked, since we were children,” Maria said. “Our parents instilled [work ethic] in us and taught us to recognize the value of things. By working, we learned to fight for what we wanted. In spite of the fact that we had to work, we had a very beautiful childhood.”
Parents of sponsored children from the northern Isabela Province in the Philippines make fertilizer to sell to local farmers. These parents have joined together to create SANKAPACO Cooperative. SANKAPACO is a combination of three words: Sagana, which means rich, Kaagapay, which means standing for each other or helping hand and pag-unlad, which means progress.
The impact of sponsorship ripples beyond just a monthly monetary transaction from sponsors to sponsored friends.
A group of 36 sponsored families from Isabela, located in the northeastern-most part of the Philippines, has banded together to create a fertilizer cooperative. They sell the fertilizer to generate income as they challenge poverty daily.
They began the cooperative in August 2015 with less than $40 of capital. That was all they needed to start the process of mixing all the right materials to create an affordable fertilizer they could sell to the many farmers in their community.
The sponsored families decided to create a fertilizer cooperative because Isabela is one of the country’s major crop producing areas for foods like rice and corn.
Unbound’s office building in Antipolo, Philippines.
A cake designed to look like the Unbound Antipolo office building.
As we reported in 2015, our program in Antipolo, Philippines, built a new office space and community center. The building project was a community effort, with fathers of sponsored children employed as construction workers, along with others from the local community, and several Antipolo alumni lent their expertise to the project.
The Unbound community in Antipolo recently held a celebration to bless the new building. Father Richard Magararu officiated the blessing, and several members from the community also offered their own prayers in Tagalog, the language spoken by many Filipinos.
Here are their prayers, along with an English translation.
Read the prayers
Social worker Anibal Perez (right) visits with Angelica and Emerson, the mother and brother of sponsored child Ada in Guatemala. As a student, Anibal was sponsored and had a scholarship through Unbound. Because he comes from similar circumstances as the families in the program, he says, “I understand their struggle. …”
Former sponsored child
and scholarship recipient
Anibal Perez remembers how important support from the Unbound staff was growing up.
Now, in his role as a social worker with Unbound in Guatemala, Anibal works with 322 children and their families to support them and be part of their lives.
“I understand their struggle and can be sort of a role model for them,” he said.
Anibal credits his family, his sponsors (Dennis and Mary in Illinois) and the Unbound staff for making it possible for him to graduate from high school.