Sponsored youth Damaris, 23, has faced an uphill battle since childhood to complete her education. Nevertheless, she’s close to reaching her goal of a college degree in human resources.
Every path out of poverty is lined with obstacles. Damaris’ journey has been extraordinarily difficult.
Most sponsored children need additional support to help them continue their studies past primary school. For Damaris, it took sponsorship support and her willingness to work while attending school to afford her living and education expenses.
Domingo works on homework. He’s learning how to balance being a student with being a husband and father.
Throughout his life, Domingo from Guatemala has had many roles. He’s a father, husband, fisherman, brother and dreamer. And now, at the age of 47, he’s also an Unbound scholar.
“I have always wanted to go to school,” Domingo shared, “it’s just that I was born into circumstances that prevented me from doing it. I had sadness in my heart because I wanted to learn, I wanted to be able to read and write like my friends. I have waited for the opportunity all of my life.”
Ronaldo takes his sheep out to graze in a field near his home. He has raised livestock since he was first sponsored in 2006.
Ronaldo is an 18-year-old sponsored youth
who lives with his parents and five siblings in Guatemala. He’s an impressive young man with wisdom beyond his years, and he learned early on one of life’s most valuable lessons about economics.
“Saving is very hard because we always need the money,” he said, “but spending it can be very easy. You have to really think about how you will spend your money and spend it right.”
Ronaldo thinks a lot about “spending it right,” and that farsightedness has guided him ever since he first became sponsored in 2006. (His current sponsor is Michael from Arkansas.) It led Ronaldo to choose livestock as a sponsorship benefit, a choice he’s never regretted.
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.
Ingrid (left), a sponsored youth in Guatemala, displays her high school diploma with her mother, Rosalinda, in front of their home.
By Stacy King, lead trip coordinator
As a member of the Unbound trips team, I’ve had the honor of traveling with sponsors and coworkers abroad, and meeting some awesome sponsored families. Many of the families have shared their beautiful and inspirational life stories, and hearing them never grows old. But every once in a while, a story will connect and touch my heart in a special way.
Saritha Mendanha, program coordinator in Hyderabad, India, presents at Unbound’s Global Insight Series on March 29 in Kansas City.
Saritha Mendanha is Unbound’s program coordinator in Hyderabad, India. With two master’s degrees, in social work and counseling & psychotherapy, Saritha has worked for Unbound for eight years. She began as the program coordinator in Chennai in 2009 and took on the same role in Hyderabad — Unbound’s largest project in India — in 2012.
Unbound has 37 projects in the 19 countries where we work. The projects serve as regional hubs in areas where sponsored members live, and are the coordinating centers for community-based programs that span the area. Each of these hubs is led by a coordinator who helps guide and manage the Unbound program in that area.
At both Unbound’s Global Insight Series on March 29 and at an employee-wide presentation earlier in the week, Saritha shared about the innovative programs happening in her project in Hyderabad. With an emphasis on guiding and mentoring young adults, the Hyderabad program is finding unique — and fun — ways for sponsored children and young adults to find their path in life.
Cristina and her husband, Epifanio, in their home.
Whether it’s providing workshops for sponsored members and their families or encouraging children and youth to stay in school, education has always been a pillar of the Unbound program. And we know that each person has unique needs and abilities, so Unbound social workers work with sponsored members to find the education that’s the best fit, from taking formal classes during the week or opting for technical school or a training program.
With the assistance they receive from Unbound, individuals around the world are choosing to continue their education, and some are even able return to their studies after having to take a break. And Unbound doesn’t just limit the encouragement to children and youth. One of the best examples of this is sponsored elder Cristina from Guatemala. Cristina is 63 years old and has been a part of the Unbound program for more than four years.
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.”
Charles welcomes customers to his tailoring business.
Charles works on a garment that he will later sell.
When hit with a tragedy, the idea of moving forward can be daunting. For 62-year-old Charles from Kenya, his wife’s passing meant learning how to function without his life and business partner.
Raising 14 children and grandchildren together, including their 13-year-old granddaughter, Lucy, who is sponsored through Unbound in 2011, Charles and his wife knew they had to maintain steady sources of income. His wife had opened a small tailoring shop, and Charles started working with her after he lost his position as a supervisor in a sugar company nearly 20 years ago.
“I had taken my wife to a tailoring school and she had learned to make women’s clothes,” Charles said. “I learned from a friend how to make men’s clothes. … We made a strong team.”
Brayan smiles as he does his homework because he likes to study and is proud of the good grades he gets.
For Brayan, an 11-year-old boy in Bolivia, sponsorship through Unbound could not have come at a better time.
After his father left three years ago, Brayan and his family were in a tough situation. His mother, Lucretia, had to leave then 8-year-old Brayan at home with his older sister for long periods while she worked far away to pay off a bank loan. Fortunately, Brayan heard about Unbound from a friend at school who was sponsored.
“I told my mother and she was able to reach the office and talk to the coordinator,” Brayan said. “I have now been sponsored for three years. I had to wait for about a year to find a sponsor.”