Milestone moments don’t happen every day. For Jolly, a sponsored youth in the Philippines, graduating from college is one of his happiest memories. While most graduates walk toward the stage to get their degrees, Jolly was walking toward his mom.
“When my name was called by the host in our graduation, my mother was clapping her hands,” said Jolly, a sponsored youth living in the Philippines. “I was the one who got her hand and we walked together up the stage. She was the one who put the medal on my neck. I was so happy that moment,” he said.
Sponsored child Everth and his mother, Carmen, participated in a neighborhood clean-up day organized by Unbound staff in Nicaragua. Along with other families they collected materials from the streets for recycling or proper disposal.
The city of Estelí, Nicaragua, is a troubled one. Many families served by Unbound live in one of its neighborhoods that is unsafe and run-down.
The neighborhood is underdeveloped. Its dirt roads run with raw sewage. A majority of the sponsored children attend a school on the main road in the neighborhood, an area that has a lot of garbage strewn about.
But the community is trying to make small steps forward, and Unbound is helping residents work toward creating a safer and cleaner neighborhood.
With the help of her son Maricio (left), a sponsored youth, and her brother Abelardo (right), Maria is able to supplement her family’s income with materials she collects for recycling and repair.
Maria finds discarded items that can be fixed and resold to support her family.
The old adage, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” rings true for Maria’s family.
She and the other six members of her family work hard reclaiming items from the streets of their Mexican neighborhood.
“First, I am a mother. This is my first and most important job,” Maria said. “I enjoy doing overtime mother’s work, even if I don’t get paid for it,” she laughed.
But in order to pay the bills, Maria has a very different job — she is a pepenadora or one who searches through trash for a living.
From left: Florencia, her daughters Carina and Mikaela and her son Giancarlo, center.
Florencia used to beg her husband for enough change to purchase a small amount of vegetable so she could make soup for her children.
“Most of the time, I just prepared it with water and very few vegetables,” Florencia said.
Florencia is the mother of four children, two of whom are sponsored through Unbound in Bolivia. Florencia participates in the Unbound urban agriculture program in her area, which means begging for spare change is no longer part of Florencia’s routine.
Manish, 14, is sponsored through Unbound in India.
The Taj Mahal, Delhi, India.
Manish spent a good part of his childhood stationed outside the East Gate of India’s famed Taj Mahal.
By the age of 5 he was working long days peddling trinkets: bracelets, beads or cheap keychains.
Selling on the streets is dangerous work for little kids. They can become easy prey for thieves or victims of speeding cars and motorcycles.
But Manish had little choice. He is the youngest of seven. His father works, but doesn’t make enough money to feed every child in the family.
Elizabeth makes pastries outside her home in Nicaragua.
On a good day, Elizabeth earns $3.78 selling pastries she makes in the home she shares with 12 other family members.
That’s a good day. Sometimes, she makes less.
Randy, 23, is an alumnus of the Unbound program in the Philippines.
Randy outside the house he shared with five other family members.
Education is considered a key step in a person’s journey out of poverty, but paying for higher education can also be one of the biggest challenges. It certainly was for Randy, a young man sponsored through Unbound in the Philippines since he was 8 years old.
That’s where Unbound’s scholarship program came in. Funded by donations for Education, the scholarship program enables students all over the world to pursue upper levels of education, such as high school, technical school or college, giving them the boost they need to achieve their dreams. We had the opportunity to interview Randy shortly before he graduated from college and learned how being part of the scholarship program impacted his life.
Rolando and his youngest daughter, Nataly, enjoy spending time together.
Rolando didn’t have a father growing up in Cartagena, Colombia. His dad died in a car crash when he was just a baby, and his mother died from diabetes when he was only 3 years old.
“I don’t recall much of my parents,” Rolando said, “but I remember my mother being a hard-working woman, and remember her selling fried food downtown. … The one thing I remember from her is the big love she gave us; that is something that I still have inside me.”
Jorge sitting in his favorite spot.
Jorge’s favorite spot is the hammock on his front porch.
“I spend the afternoon right here,” he said. “I read the Bible — I stay here until about 8 at night. We eat something, and we go to bed.”
Jorge is 68 years old and lives in Guatemala. Those relaxing afternoons in the hammock are much needed after his long mornings selling clothes in the marketplace.
Jorge and his wife, Reyna, wake up at 5 a.m. every day and try to sell clothes to provide for their daily needs. They may earn $4 or $5 on a good day, but many times they can’t sell anything, leaving them with no money for food or transportation home from the market.
Maria Elena (right) embraces her daughter Maria Angelica.
Maria Angelica has grown up around nurses and hospitals.
Born almost three months early, she spent much of her first four years in the hospital before being diagnosed with kidney failure and a tumor in her liver. Though the doctors were able to remove the tumor, Maria Angelica’s health continued to worsen. She needed a new kidney, but the waiting list was long and knowledge about organ donation was almost nonexistent in Bolivia in the late 90s.
“It is too difficult to find a donor,” said Maria Elena, Maria Angelica’s mother. “When they went to sign up my daughter, she was number 600 on that list. It is very difficult; there is no awareness to donate organs here.”