Ulises with his mother, Marjorie.
Marjorie with her son Ulises at their home in Costa Rica.
Autism affects one in 68 children, and it’s one of the fastest growing developmental disorders in the last 20 years.
April is Autism Awareness Month — a month dedicated to educating the public about autism and helping to create a safer, happier world for those challenged by this disorder. Unbound sponsorship offers support to families around the world who are impacted by autism.
Ulises is a 22-year-old sponsored youth who has autism. He lives in Costa Rica with his mother, Marjorie, who takes care of him.
“My dream is that one day he would do things on his own, so he would be independent when I’m no longer with him,” Marjorie said.
Juan completes his homework using his new laptop computer.
Sometimes, smarts just run in the family.
Juan, age 11, has been showing off his smarts for the past few years. He was recognized recently with an Education Excellence Award from Unbound in the Dominican Republic.
The Unbound staff in the Dominican Republic created the Education Excellence Award to recognize students who achieve grades with an average 80 percent or higher in every subject and get good reports on their behavior and overall participation.
Students who qualify are invited to a ceremony where they eat lunch, receive medals and watch artistic presentations. The student with the highest award wins a brand new laptop computer.
Dayanna, 8, from El Salvador.
Dayanna with her mother, Karla, and little sister, Genesis, inside their home.
There’s a lot to learn about Dayanna. She’s 8 years old, lives in El Salvador, likes the color pink and playing with her sister, and she has a cat named Lunasol.
Dayanna’s in second grade and her favorite subject in school is math.
“One day, the teacher assigned as homework to write all the numbers up to 300, but I wrote until 309,” Dayanna said.
Karla, Dayanna’s mom, wants to see both her daughters graduate, but the family’s situation makes providing an education difficult.
“We try to make an effort in sending Dayanna to school,” Karla said, “but education is something that is difficult for us [to afford]. My husband works, but it isn’t enough.
Keep reading to learn how you can help Dayanna
From left: Jorge, Cesar, Julio and Alicia stand next to the family’s food cart.
Life has not been easy for Alicia. Her father passed away when she was 7 years old, leaving her mother to raise four children. Within a year of her father’s death, Alicia and her 10-year-old brother entered the workforce to help support their two younger siblings.
“Life was hard for me,” Alicia shared. “I did not have time to be a child.”
Alicia grew up cleaning homes instead of attending school, and started her adult life with a very limited set of skills. Her husband, Julio, had a similar upbringing, and though he worked hard, found it difficult to provide for his family as a seasonal worker.
“Life was difficult because we did not have jobs, we didn’t even have the knowledge or skill to start a business,” Alicia said of herself and her husband.
Shruthi is sponsored through Unbound’s program in Hyderabad, India.
Shruthi (left) and her siblings, Vinay and Sony, pose for a picture with their parents, Venkat and Shoba.
In 2010, the United Nations declared the first week in February as World Interfaith Harmony Week. For 2015, the focus is on promoting religious and inter-religious actions for sustainable development. At Unbound, we build relationships of mutual respect and support that bridge cultural, religious and economic divides. Shruthi and her family are just one example of this philosophy in action.
With bright eyes and a warm smile, 13-year-old Shruthi carries herself with confidence.
She’s had a sponsor through Unbound since she was in the second grade. She’s in ninth grade now.
“It was the happiest feeling, I remember, when I was told that there is another family far away who is sponsoring me,” she said. “I learned gradually what sponsorship is about.”
Fred and his great-aunt, Anna, from Uganda.
“I knew without proper education, his life would turn out bleak,” Anna said of her grandnephew. “I had to do everything within my reach to help him go to school and learn.”
The 72-year-old Ugandan woman took over the care of Fred when he was just 8 months old after the untimely death of his parents. Fred’s mother was Anna’s niece, whom Anna also cared for. Growing up, Fred has always just referred to Anna as his grandmother.
Anna found herself in a position to help her extended family after the end of her 29-year marriage. Anna’s husband, a polygamist, banished her from his home because Anna did not bear him children. She moved in with her ailing brother who soon died, leaving his children and grandchildren, Fred among them, in her care.
Elizabeth Alex, second from left, visits the home of Kusma, whose son Alok is sponsored through Unbound in India.
By Elizabeth Alex, community outreach and media relations director for Unbound
You meet some of the nicest people in a slum.
I learned that lesson the moment Kusma welcomed me into her home — a tiny, two-room place packed into a congested street — with the sounds of motorcycles, car horns, cows, food carts and the chatter of children joining the smells of exhaust, cow dung, dust and curry just outside her door.
The “door” is actually a few cloths draped in front of the entrance. The roof is a piece of tarp attached by some sticks and rope.
I met Kusma at the Unbound office in Agra, where she helps her mothers group raise money sewing shoe covers for visitors to the Taj Mahal. She invited me to visit any time.
Read more about Elizabeth’s visit
From all of the Unbound communities around the world, we wish you a very merry Christmas.
Ruth takes a ride on a train at the Christmas party for sponsored children in Nairobi.
These Christmas trees were made by sponsored friends in Manila, Philippines using recycled and natural materials.
Unbound staff in Kansas City participate in an ugly sweater contest.
Sponsored youth Kenia (right) decorates a Christmas tree with her mom and brother outside their Salvadoran home.
John, who is sponsored through Unbound in Kenya, holds up the pair of jeans he got for Christmas. His parents purchased the jeans by saving a little each month from sponsorship benefits.
Gabby Vernon, service support liaison lead for Unbound’s Sponsor Services department, went all out on her Christmas decorations.
Sponsored children in Colombia get their faces painted at their annual Christmas party.
Sponsored youth in Kampala compete in a dance contest at their annual Christmas party.
Staff members in the Philippines decorate the office ahead of Christmas.
Staff members in Kansas display Christmas decorations to get in the spirit of the holiday.
Staff members in Honduras show-off some of the Christmas cards created by sponsored children.
Allan (left) and Slobodan (right) enjoy a hot meal at the Unbound Christmas party in Nairobi.
Sponsored girls in Colombia work on crafts at their annual Christmas party.
Sponsored child Katherine receives a Christmas gift from her mother, Deysi, at the Unbound Christmas party in El Salvador.
Christmas parties for sponsored friends and their families are made possible through donations to the Christmas Fund. Donate today.
Yollande is completing her training as a nurse at a local health center in Madagascar.
By Barclay Martin, new channels coordinator for Unbound
Sitting in the home of Yollande and her mother, Jeanne, I was given a beautiful glimpse of human potential. In a place where homes are commonly assembled with humble and often salvaged materials, their home is simple, but stately. When I commented on how lovely it felt to be in their home, Jeanne replied, “We have built our life one step at a time, including this house.”
Yollande is 21 and has been raised alongside her siblings in their neighborhood on the outskirts of Antsirabe, Madagascar. Their neighborhood’s name translates to “No Place for Lazy People.”
Welcome to Tsiratrinikamo.