Joseph, 22, is a sponsored student in Kenya. When he was 2, Joseph’s parents noticed that he wasn’t able to do some of the same things other children his age could. By the time he was 3, he was unable to walk or move around.
His parents took him to a local hospital, where he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that impairs movement and is caused by brain damage during development.
Joseph underwent surgery to help straighten his legs. He also received physical therapy and used crutches for some time. In all, he spent four years in the hospital being treated for his condition.
Joseph was finally able to join primary school at the age of 7. He was one of the best students in the class.
Joseph’s parents found it hard to get by with Joseph’s medical expenses, four children in school and no steady income. Unbound staff in their area learned of the family’s situation, and in 2002 Joseph was sponsored. The support he received from his sponsor meant his parents could continue paying for his education.
Joseph’s schooling, however, was interrupted in fourth grade when he had to have another surgery.. He spent another year in the hospital, which meant he had to repeat fourth grade. Despite the difficulties, he continued to excel when he returned to school and even managed to score highly on the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education.
With his high scores, Joseph received a scholarship from the Jomo Kenyatta Foundation, which combined with his sponsorship benefits meant his parents could send him to a better secondary school.
The first secondary school Joseph attended wasn’t the best fit. His condition made it difficult for him to write, which made it hard to keep up with the other students. But it was the negative treatment he received from some of his classmates that was the biggest challenge.
Seeing his struggles, Joseph’s parents decided to transfer him to a school that specialized in teaching students with disabilities. Being among others who faced similar challenges boosted Joseph’s self-confidence.
Joseph recently graduated secondary school with good grades, and plans to pursue a degree in business administration from Kenyatta University. While he waits to get into the university, Joseph puts his time to good use.
He volunteers at his old primary school teaching math and Kiswahili, and he helps out at the Unbound office near his home.
When giving advice to younger students, he keeps it simple. “Disability is not inability,” Joseph said. “Work hard and stay focused.”
Donations to Health help provide equipment and therapeutic devices to sponsored friends with disabilities, along with many other health related initiatives.
Victoria had the opportunity to travel to El Salvador in June for Unbound’s first blogger trip. She was overwhelmingly inspired by the sponsored friends and families she met. Here’s one of her stories.
Today is International Friendship Day. Unbound is all about fostering friendships that cross borders and span cultures. On awareness trips hosted by Unbound, sponsors can meet their sponsored friends face to face. To celebrate the many friendships formed through sponsorship, we want to share with you photos of sponsors and their sponsored friends.
Meet your sponsored friend on an Unbound Awareness Trip. Check out our trips page for more information.
On Unbound’s first blogger trip, our social media coordinator, Victoria Brown, not only met with sponsored families but was also immersed in the Salvadoran culture. Read more to find out some of the things Victoria learned on her visit.
Got any birthdays coming up? Well, now you can wish friends and family or your sponsored friend a happy birthday in Hindi.
What other phrases would you like to learn? Leave a comment to let us know!
Follow us on our first blogger trip to El Salvador!
Beginning June 1, four bloggers and two journalists will be visiting our project in El Salvador to share stories, photos and videos from the field.
You’ll see content from our travelers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, as well as featured stories on their blogs and ours.
Click here to find more about each blogger!
Our awareness trip to India was the most memorable, amazing time we have ever spent. The beautiful faces of those happy children, their joyful singing and dancing, their eagerness to meet us, to touch us, to have their picture taken with us, all these things filled us with joy.
Though we weren’t “their” sponsors, we represented all sponsors, and they loved us as though we had been writing them letters for years.
By Jordan Kimbrell, Unbound writer/editor
Poverty creates challenges that can thrust adult worries and responsibilities on children. That’s certainly true for sponsored child Carlos from El Salvador.
At just 11 years old, Carlos takes his role as the oldest child and older brother seriously, especially since his father left shortly after his younger brother, Byron, was born.
Carlos experienced the joy of becoming a big brother when his mom, Wendy, gave birth to Byron in 2008. Unfortunately, Byron was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, which meant he would need special care and medical treatment.
Sometimes the best gift someone can receive is encouragement. That’s exactly what Maria, a 34-year-old mother of three from the Dominican Republic, received from her friends and loved ones.
As a volunteer at the local Unbound office, Maria received lots of encouragement, and eventually a scholarship, from the community there when she made her decision to finish high school and pursue a teaching degree.
One of her biggest supporters was her father-in-law, who told her, “Do not give up.”
Read more about Maria’s journey here.