Tag: elders

Aug 25 2018

In pictures


Salvación has been fiercely independent from a young age. When other girls her age were being forced into arranged marriages, Salvación left home to avoid marrying someone she didn’t know. Now at the age of 84, Salvación remains independent. It isn’t easy being on her own, but her neighbors check in on her and she has the help of Stephanie in Louisiana, who has been her Unbound sponsor for 16 years.

At 67, Fanjo is no stranger to hard work, from being in the Malagasy army to working in a textile factory, and finally working as a rickshaw driver. He and his wife had nine children, five of whom are still living. “I worked so hard because I love my children so much,” Fanjo said. “I wanted my children to have all they need. I wanted them to have a bright future.”

Jayamma isn’t sure exactly how old she is or how long she and Amos have been married, though she knows they’ve been together for more than 30 years. She remembers that Amos was very handsome when she met him. Both lost their parents at a young age, and Jayamma lost the full use of her legs from childhood polio. Amos used to carry Jayamma on his back but now that they’re older, they use a tricycle to get around.

William took to heart his grandfather’s advice to live in harmony with and respect others. He said he’s always loved being among people and being a peacemaker. These traits likely helped when he was elected a village elder. At 62, William lives with his wife, five children and a grandchild. His children are educated, but jobs in their fields are hard to find. To help them provide for the family, William taught them farming, and together they make a living from the land.

In her community, 101-year-old Elisa is known as “mamita” because she’s delivered so many babies. “Even the mayor calls me ‘mamita’ because I delivered him, too,” Elisa said. She never attended school but became a midwife at the age of 14. Elisa learned the trade, which has been in the family for generations, from her mother. She hopes the skill continues with descendants like granddaughter Luz (middle), with whom she lives, and her daughter Maria (left).

Walk with an elder. Sponsor today.

Aug 18 2018

The grace of sponsorship flows both ways

Janelle Stramm with a photo of her late sponsored friend, Lucinda.


By Janelle Stamm, accounting specialist

A few years ago, I was diagnosed with cancer. I was beyond scared and prayed that God would be with me for whatever was ahead.

Soon afterward, in the spirit of dedicating my cancer journey for a higher purpose, I decided to sponsor an elder through Unbound. I chose an 84-year-old woman named Lucinda from Guatemala. What drew me to Lucinda was that her Unbound profile said she had remained strong in her faith through illness. When I read about her, I thought we were in similar situations because

I, too, was relying on my faith to navigate my way through having cancer.
Though we were both sick, the health care options available to us were vastly different. I had access to excellent health care choices and she had only medicine to relieve pain. But she had spiritual wealth and shared it by visiting others who were sick. Her practice of offering compassion had a profound impact on me. It gave me hope for whatever was ahead for me.
Soon after my treatment, I was back to doing everything I did before like running and yoga. Yet, I felt different. I felt more joyful about everything. Faced with my own mortality, I learned how God is present in our lives and how to recognize his presence through my relationships with others.

Lucinda and I exchanged many letters before she passed away. Although she could not write herself, her sentiments were shared by a social worker named Ingrid. With Ingrid’s help, Lucinda and I shared our favorite colors and flowers.

I was humbled when I read in a letter, “Mrs. Lucinda thanks you for the help you give her every month, since she is able to receive vegetables that are very useful so she can eat very well.” And I was again humbled when, in another letter, Ingrid wrote, “Mrs. Lucinda …. always asks God to bless you in all your daily activities.”

After corresponding for more than a year, I finally shared with Lucinda how much she influenced me. I’ll never know her reaction because she passed away shortly afterward.

In her honor, I participated in a triathlon, raising funds for the Unbound Health Fund. After the event, I wrote a card to Lucinda’s family. I shared with them how she greatly influenced me, and that I was honored to know her, even though it was for a short while.

Genaro lives in El Salvador with her daughter Paula and granddaughter Rocio, who is also sponsored through Unbound. Genaro is originally from Honduras, where she and her husband Regino met and adopted Paula.
Aug 4 2018

Learning from our elders

Genaro lives in El Salvador with her daughter Paula and granddaughter Rocio, who is also sponsored through Unbound. Genaro is originally from Honduras, where she and her husband Regino met and adopted Paula.

Under the best of circumstances, living to a ripe old age requires resilience. For those who grow old in the economically developing world, it also requires no small amount of courage.

The 2015 U.N. “World Population Aging” report said that the percentage of the population that is elderly is growing in nearly every nation on Earth. Like most major social developments, that increase will likely have the greatest impact on those living in poverty. Unbound has been ahead of the curve in learning how to respond to that reality.

In the mid-1980s, Unbound became the first major U.S.-based nonprofit organization to offer sponsors the opportunity to provide monthly financial support for elderly persons living in poverty. Today, it remains the only major sponsorship organization to include seniors among those they support.
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Sponsored elder Teresa, in Guatemala, takes care of her grandson Luis. In the evenings, Luis reads to his grandmother. It is a special moment of sharing for both of them.
Jul 28 2018

Everyone craves connection


At Unbound we focus on relationships. In partnership with the families we serve, we build communities of trust, accountability, mutual learning and respect. When combined with financial support, the bonds of love formed between sponsors and sponsored friends and their families become pivotal to the success, improved health and happiness of those we serve. We believe the relationship thrives in part by its reciprocal nature. Both parties, sponsored friends and sponsors, blossom and benefit because of it.

While this connection is important for children and youth in their growth, it’s especially critical for elders as they cope with the social isolation that often comes with aging. And the problem of isolation is likely to grow as the world’s population gets older.

According to the 2015 U.N. “World Population Aging” report, “Virtually every country in the world is experiencing growth in the number and proportion of older persons in their population. Population aging — the increasing share of older persons in the population — is poised to become one of the most significant social transformations of the 21st century.”

In our “Living Unbound: The resiliency of elders” series, we explore our distinctive and trailblazing approach to serving this aging demographic. Members of the Unbound community also share with us some of the blessings and challenges they’ve experienced along the way.

In Nairobi, sponsored elder Erastus demonstrates his determination in searching for a community of peace and acceptance. Unbound staff member Janelle Stamm recounts how she bonded with her late sponsored elder, Lucinda in Guatemala. Each account reveals real hopes and real hurdles. They confirm that the elderly have much to teach and much more to do. Improved quality of life and increased social interactions help them share their hard-earned gifts with others. We also take a look in this issue at steps we’ve taken to disrupt elder isolation, as well as introduce readers to how we’re seeking to measure our results.

Unbound strives to offer quality and necessary services for elders. Human connection remains an important aspect, one that requires the participation of sponsors, staff members, communities of sponsored individuals and their families, and countless others.

An elderly woman in Kenya fills a vessel with water.
Mar 22 2017

On World Water Day, how sponsorship can help provide clean water

An elderly woman in Kenya fills a vessel with water.

Doris, a sponsored elder in Kenya, displays the water fixture she had installed after saving up her sponsorship benefits.

In 1993, the United Nations designated March 22 as World Water Day. It’s an occasion to spread awareness about the global water crisis and work toward the goal of all people having access to safe water by 2030.

In Unbound’s programs in Latin America, Africa and Asia, clean water is something that a number of families access with the help of their sponsorship benefits.

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A sponsored elder in Guatemala plays with two dogs.
Mar 15 2017

Sponsoring elders gives us wisdom and perspective

A sponsored elder in Guatemala plays with two dogs.

Esteban, a sponsored elder in Guatemala, enjoys playing with his dogs .

Over the past weeks we’ve heard phenomenal stories of Unbound sponsored elders and their wisdom, joy and love.

We learned about Cristina in Guatemala, who returned to school at age 59, and Julia in Bolivia, who embodies love in how she cares for her husband. Eusebio in Guatemala shared his wisdom about embracing life, while Eustaquia in Mexico provided a lesson in ingenuity and care for the earth. Finally, Maria in Guatemala described the hardships of her life and how she has overcome them through faith.

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Eustaquia stands arm in arm with her husband, Felipe, outside their home. After his accident, she became the family's main provider.
Mar 1 2017

An eye for value that others overlook

People committed to recycling recognize beauty and worth in what others discard. Some also recognize a way to generate income. Eustaquia is an elder who recycles to earn a living. Now 76, she lives in Mexico with her husband, Felipe, whom she describes as her “wonderful companion.” Together, they raised seven children, now all grown and married.

Felipe was seriously injured in an accidental shooting 14 years ago, after which he suffered debilitating memory loss and was unable to work. As a result, Eustaquia needed to find a way to earn an income and began recycling.

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Sponsored elder Eusebio, 73, from Guatemala.
Feb 22 2017

Enjoying the benefits of restored health

Eusebio enjoys some time outdoors with his "soulmate," wife Tiburcia.

Eusebio enjoys some time outdoors with his “soulmate,” wife Tiburcia.

Sometimes a person doesn’t realize how bad things have been until they begin to see how much better they can be.

That’s the way it was for sponsored elder Eusebio, 73, from Guatemala. Six years ago he injured his leg while collecting firewood. But because he couldn’t afford proper medical care, the wound never healed and eventually developed into a trophic ulcer.

When Eusebio became sponsored through Unbound in 2014, he was finally able to see a doctor. He learned just how close he had come to losing his leg and, possibly, his life. He began receiving treatment, which continues today.

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Julia, a sponsored elder from Bolivia.
Feb 15 2017

For the love of God

Julia and her husband, Dionicio, in their home in Bolivia.

Julia and her husband, Dionicio, in their home in Bolivia.

The experience of having been hurt by others is, sadly, not an uncommon part of the story of many elderly people who live in poverty. Being poor carries with it great vulnerability and it only increases with age.

Many endure their hurts with grace and even learn to forgive. Those who find it within themselves to not only forgive, but actually reach out in compassion to the people who’ve wronged them, inspire us.

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Cristina with her schoolbooks and bag, ready for her classes.
Feb 8 2017

Never too old

Cristina and her husband, Epifanio, in their home.

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.

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