Texas parents visit Guatemala with adopted sons
Last summer, Cecile Villarreal traveled with her husband, Raul, and two sons, Alex and Lou, to Guatemala on an Unbound awareness trip. Alex and Lou, who were adopted by Cecile and Raul, were born in Guatemala, and this was their first time visiting their birth country. In this interview, Cecile shares with contributing writer Maureen Lunn about taking an Unbound adventure with her family.
Cecile and Raul Villarreal with their sons, Alex (far left) and Lou (center), and their sponsored friends, Hector (second from left) and Magdalena (far right).
Maureen: How long have you been involved with Unbound, and what led you to initially become a sponsor?
Cecile: We started sponsoring our first child, Magdalena, in 2005. We had adopted my oldest son, Alex, from Guatemala in 2000 and had become part of an association of parents who had done the same. In one of the association meetings, an adoptive parent introduced Unbound to us, and we picked Magdalena that very same day. A few years later, we started sponsoring Manuelito. We felt that was a great way to be useful and to keep contact with our sons’ heritage.
Visit Honduras, Nicaragua
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.
Sponsored members celebrate history and faith
Sponsored child Irene (right) and her mother Susan stand in front of a church after the Santo Niño parade.
In the Philippines, the Santo Niño Festival is celebrated with many replicas of the small child of Jesus statue.
Individual creativity in the Unbound community is rich, as we saw in last week’s story
. The community traditions and celebrations also run deep, telling the stories of ancestors and faith through dance, parades and other ceremonies. Keep reading
Sponsored youth, elders express themselves in art
Juan (left), who has since passed away, sings while another sponsored elder, Francisco, accompanies him on the guitar.
The world is host to a myriad of cultures and traditions, and in the Unbound community we have the opportunity to learn about ways people around the world express culture, history and faith. From poets to musicians to participants in nationwide celebrations, people sponsored through Unbound eagerly share their talents and passions with the world. This is the first of a two-part blog series highlighting arts and culture in our community. Keep reading
Tips on understanding Indian phrases
In her role as program director at Unbound, Pritha Hariharan visits sponsored child Antony at his home in India.
By Pritha Hariharan, program director for Unbound’s international programs
“I passed out of college in 1996.”
I said this to a mostly American audience, only to receive a mixture of horrified and puzzled looks. An Indian friend helpfully stepped in and explained that I had not, in fact, fainted in said year, but had graduated from college at that time. That was my first exposure to the idea that there are some phrases in Indian English that are very uniquely Indian. So much so that many Americans wouldn’t know what I was referring to unless they have spent a significant amount of time either traveling in India or working with other Indians.
Don’t get me wrong. Almost everyone knows that there are some basic differences — that we in India use British English — such as adding the u in “colour” and calling an elevator a “lift” and an apartment a “flat.” However, the uniqueness of some of these phrases is worth pointing out, especially to sponsors who might be a bit confused by the letters they’ve received from their sponsored children in India.
A sponsored child in the Philippines writes a letter to her sponsor in Tagalog. The letter is then translated into English.
As an international organization, it’s no surprise Unbound comprises diverse communities speaking numerous languages. While countries we work in might share an official language, such as Spanish, it may not be the first language of many of the residents.
There are hundreds of languages spoken across the Unbound community. From Kaqchikel in Guatemala to Tagalog in the Philippines, languages represent the unique cultures that are part of Unbound.
Pritha, at the age of 13, dressed for her coming-of-age ceremony. According to Pritha, this photo was taken in a professional photographer’s studio, in front of a mirror so that the intricate braid work could be seen in the reflection.
In her role as program director at Unbound, Pritha visits sponsored child Antony at Antony’s home in India.
By Pritha Hariharan, program director for Unbound’s international programs
Picture this: a young girl of 13 fully decked out in a brand new sari. All the gold her family can afford hangs on her ears, around her neck, her wrists, her ankles and even her waist. She is the center of attention — all the ladies of the family and the neighborhood mill around her. Some bring gifts, others bring food, but everyone is congratulating her and her parents.
She isn’t quite sure why she’s been put in the spotlight, but she’s enjoying it for now. The male siblings are feeling left out, and for the first time in their lives they can’t figure out why the sister is getting all the attention.
Middle school graduation?
El Día de los Muertos
From left: Leti and her daughter Norma sell handmade decorations for Day of the Dead.
, Day of the Dead, is a popular holiday in Latin America when people visit the gravesites of loved ones. Headstones are painted, cleaned and adorned with flowers. It’s a time for families to come together to honor their loved ones who have passed on.
A mothers group in Guatemala elects its new president or “guide.”
Unbound believes in the wisdom of mothers. Our mothers group model operates from the basic belief that mothers are capable, resourceful people and helps mothers gain self-confidence.
We met with a mothers group in Guatemala who shared the process of electing a president for the group and how this process helps empower each woman.
Alan, a 75-year-old sponsored elder in Costa Rica.
At 75, Alan would not strike anyone as a likely candidate for adoption. But the Unbound mothers group in his community didn’t let that stand in their way. They have taken Alan into their hearts and care for him as one of their own.