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.
Every day, as the sun begins to rise in Bolivia, 69-year-old Enrique wakes up, eats an early breakfast and makes his way to his workshop where he cuts logs into smaller pieces — carving, sanding and drying the wood as spoons, bowls and cups take shape.
Sophisticated handiwork like Enrique’s can be challenging and time-consuming for anyone to learn. For him, woodworking was a natural fit. But it wasn’t Enrique’s first career.
Maria is a calm and shy sponsored elder who loves to dance. She lives in El Salvador with her husband in an adobe home — surrounded by beautiful flowers and mango and avocado trees — with a dog, cat and even a few pet parrots. At age 80, she serves her community as a midwife and caretaker — a role she’s had for decades.
Maria joined the Unbound community in 2011, when she was sponsored by Gary from Missouri. The support from Unbound has been a great boost to her health and quality of life.
Angela, or Angelita, as she’s called by her family and friends, is a sponsored elder in El Salvador. She’ll celebrate her 71st birthday in March, but has gone through a lot to get to such a distinguished age.
“My childhood was very humble,” Angela said. “My father worked the land; he worked in everything that he could find. We were nine siblings, seven boys and two girls. … We all stayed in one room. A friend of my family lent us that room and it was made of adobe.
“We were living in extreme poverty. That’s why my siblings and I never went to school. Instead we had to work. I collected firewood, carried water to my house and washed clothes in a river.”
By Loretta Shea Kline, managing editor for Unbound
Meeting Antonio, you just know he’ll have something interesting to say.
At 74 years old, Antonio has been sponsored through Unbound’s program in Mexico for 10 years. Tending to his garden and raising chickens are some of his hobbies. He has a lot of life experience and leans toward the simple life. And that’s something many of us could learn from him.
Antonio grew up working in the fields and raising cattle. He never learned to read or write but speaks two languages, Mayan and Spanish. And although he lost his eyesight many years ago and now needs assistance getting around, Antonio continues to work alongside his wife, Leonida, as they harvest corn.
Antonio has graciously shared some of his wisdom with the Unbound staff so we could pass it on to you.
When Pope Francis visits Africa Nov. 25-30, sponsored elder Alice in Kenya will be among the faithful hoping to see him.
With age comes wisdom but also the risk of social isolation. Many elders across the globe may go days or weeks without speaking to anyone. Elders who live in poverty and face loneliness are at an even greater risk of depression and deteriorating mental health.