Like most moms, Maria is a busy woman. Cooking, cleaning and getting her children ready for school are just a few of the things that make up her daily routine. Maria is also involved in starting her own business and improving the health and wellness of her community. It’s a full plate, but she’s excited about each opportunity that comes her way.
The city of Estelí, Nicaragua, is a troubled one. Many families served by Unbound live in one of its neighborhoods that is unsafe and run-down.
The neighborhood is underdeveloped. Its dirt roads run with raw sewage. A majority of the sponsored children attend a school on the main road in the neighborhood, an area that has a lot of garbage strewn about.
But the community is trying to make small steps forward, and Unbound is helping residents work toward creating a safer and cleaner neighborhood.
Water hyacinths, a persistent pest, clog waterways, kill fish and rob sunlight from native aquatic plants in lakes all over the world.
A community in the Cardona area of the Philippines, just outside Manila, experienced such an infestation. In 2012, when Charito L. and her family joined the Unbound program, her husband wasn’t able to continue his job fishing because of the plant. It became increasingly difficult to support their family.
“My source of income way back then was selling fishes but, because of the huge number of water hyacinths in the lake, the fishes died out,” she said.
Most of the major religious traditions of the world have an appreciation for fasting. While they vary in specific practices, the religions share a recognition of fasting as a sacred discipline that teaches self-control and respect for the gift of sustenance.
Muslims are about to enter into Ramadan (June 17-July 17), the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, during which they fast daily from dawn to sunset. Ramadan commemorates the presentation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad and is considered one of the most important observances of Islam.
Fatuma is a single mother of nine children, two of whom are sponsored through Unbound. She and her family live in Kenya and are devout Muslims. Recently Fatuma shared with us what Ramadan means to them.
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.
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.
In 2010, the United Nations declared the first week in February as World Interfaith Harmony Week. For 2015, the focus is on promoting religious and inter-religious actions for sustainable development. At Unbound, we build relationships of mutual respect and support that bridge cultural, religious and economic divides. Shruthi and her family are just one example of this philosophy in action.
With bright eyes and a warm smile, 13-year-old Shruthi carries herself with confidence.
She’s had a sponsor through Unbound since she was in the second grade. She’s in ninth grade now.
“It was the happiest feeling, I remember, when I was told that there is another family far away who is sponsoring me,” she said. “I learned gradually what sponsorship is about.”
By Tristan John Cabrera, communications liaison for Unbound in the Philippines
Tristan John Cabrera is the communications liaison for Unbound in the Philippines. Each year, Filipino families spend Nov. 1 and 2 at the gravesites of their family members who have passed away. The two days are referred to as Undás. Tristan shared with us his experiences of the tradition.
Every year for Undás, observed Nov. 1 and 2, my family and I visit the graves of our loved ones who have passed away. On Oct. 31 we start building a tent to serve as our shelter for our two-day stay in the cemetery. We start early because of the large number of people who will also build their tents and visit their deceased loved ones.
By Nicole Miller, support specialist for Unbound
Recently Nicole Miller traveled to Costa Rica on an awareness trip. Nicole has worked for Unbound for 10 years, and this was her first time visiting an Unbound program office. She shared with us her experiences during the trip.
By Janelle Stamm, accounting specialist for Unbound
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Janelle Stamm, who works at Unbound’s headquarters in Kansas City, shared her story of how focusing on gratitude and compassion helped her cope with cancer.
If someone told me in August 2013 that I’d run a half-marathon for Unbound in June of the next year, I would have believed them. It wasn’t outside the realm of possibilities. I’ve run two other half- marathons. Now, if someone were to tell me that I would have to deal with breast cancer before that run I would have said, “What??”