Peter (left) and his family sit on the front step of their new home.
For many in the Unbound community, meeting basic needs such as nutrition and housing were a daily challenge before being sponsored. For parents Peter and Agnes in Tanzania, unemployment and low wages made it difficult to earn enough money to send their children to school and improve their situation in life.
That changed when their youngest son, also named Peter, was sponsored.
With the help and support of their son’s sponsor, Mary from Missouri, and local Unbound staff, the couple took an important step on their journey out of poverty — building and owning their own home.
Ofelia stands in the kitchen of the home she shares with her daughter and son-in-law in Guatemala.
Seventy-eight-year-old Ofelia proves the age-old adage, “with age comes wisdom,” to be true.
“My first advice is to trust God,” Ofelia said. “If you want life, ask for it. Pray. Get on your knees and ask God to give you more life.”
Mercy is proud to show off the fruits of her and her husband’s work on their farm.
Mercy from Kenya is 29 years old, married and has three children. Mercy and her husband work hard to provide for their children along with Mercy’s younger sister, who she began caring for after her parents passed away.
“I take care of my sister, Caren,” Mercy explains. “My parents died a while back. I am the first-born in a family of six. I am charged with the responsibility of taking care of my siblings.”
Mercy takes this responsibility very seriously, but her and her husband struggled to provide for their own children and had difficulty paying Caren’s school fees on time.
“Each time I saw her chased away from school because of [a lack of] school fees, it hurt me a lot,” Mercy said. “I did not want her going through what I did. I had dropped out of school in class 8, because I had no one to help me pay my school fee.”
Carlos outside his home in Guatemala. He rents a room constructed of corrugated metal for the walls and roof and concrete for the floor.
Carlos, 73, dreams of returning to college to finish his education. He started studying when he was young, but the need to earn money at a young age to help his family kept him from consistently attending classes after primary school.
“I would ride my bicycle over a narrow dirt road for an hour to get to school,” Carlos said. “It was good exercise, I was in good shape. I had strong legs. Then I worked for years in a carpenter’s shop and at a gas station.”
Maria has been sponsored for five years and has a spirit of serving others — even when she’s not feeling well, she does her best to care for her community members as a midwife.
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.
Luis outside the home he shares with his mom and sister in Bolivia.
Luis has spent his whole life in La Paz, Bolivia. And for 15 of his 26 years, he has been sponsored by Anna from Ohio. Being part of the Unbound program has had a big impact on his life, and the values he learned from the organization helped shape his desire to serve others through police work.
“I have this strong desire to serve, to provide a helping hand for others,” Luis said. “If I have a coin in my pocket and I see someone who needs it more, I give it to the person even though I know that I also need it. I think I’ve picked up this type of attitude at Unbound, the spirit of serving with no self-interest.
“Sponsors are great role models because they provide support for people like me just because their heart says, ‘They need it.’ … I think I joined the [police] academy with the hopes that this career could provide opportunities for me to help society.”
By Regina Mburu, communications liaison for Unbound in Africa
Veronica, whose daughter Rosemary is sponsored through Unbound, had to relocate after her rented home flooded. She received rent money and items for her new home as part of flood assistance from Unbound.
Veronica attempts to salvage her children’s textbooks from their flooded home.
Heavy rains pounded Nairobi, Kenya, in May of this year, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake.
Some families were rendered homeless while others lost their belongings. As they waited for the rains to stop, the corridors of a nearby school became their home once dusk fell.
Unfortunately, families served by Unbound in the small village of Rongai were among those affected.
“I would walk by what I used to call home and I could feel my knees get weak,” Jane, a mother of a child sponsored through Unbound, said. “I lost household belongings that I had worked so hard to buy.”
Yuda is a former sponsored youth from Uganda who has earned a master’s degree and is now a teacher. “My sponsor has played a big role in my life,” Yuda said. “The support, encouragement and financial help I have gotten made me reach my goals and dream.”
Education opens up opportunities in life, especially when entering the job market. And for a child living in poverty, a good education can become the means by which she lifts her family out of poverty. But education isn’t a guarantee for much of the world, and for many children it’s a luxury their family might not be able to afford.
In many of the countries where Unbound works, families are often required by the schools to pay for things like textbooks and cover additional fees, or families of school-age children view education as a low priority compared to other needs of the family.
In some families, children and youth may be expected to leave school at a young age so they can work to provide additional income or help take care of younger siblings. These families are faced with the decision of sacrificing their child’s education in favor of feeding the family and keeping a roof over their heads.
Regine (center) with her parents, Judith (left) and Reynald (right), who run an ice cream business. They prepare ice cream each day in a small area of their home in the Philippines and sell it in the community.
Judith (left) and Reynald (right) make their morning batch of ice cream — strawberry and mango!
This Sunday is National Ice Cream Day, and we’re celebrating by honoring an Unbound family who makes their living from ice cream! If you don’t already have a bowl of your favorite cold treat ready to enjoy, you will definitely be craving one after reading this.
Hugo and Maria with four of their children. Sons Jairo and Cesar (from left) are in the background, while the parents hold twin babies (from left) Ethan and Adler.
This is the last in a series of four stories about fathers of children sponsored through Unbound. We’ve been posting these leading up to the celebration of Father’s Day on June 19. Click here to watch the companion video.
Read Hugo’s story