Celebrating International Women's Day
It’s International Women’s Day March 8, so we’re sharing the stories of three remarkable Kenyan women. Women like these are the backbone of Unbound programs, demonstrating the strength and courage it takes to create real change for their families and communities.
Making her own decisions
People in her community didn’t take Elizabeth seriously when she started her business carrying passengers to school and work on the back of her bicycle.
They said it was man’s work and questioned whether she was strong enough. That was more than 10 years ago.
“At first they doubted me and would not let me carry them, but with time I have been accepted,” she said.
Elizabeth shows off the bike she relies on for her livelihood.
A group of children in El Salvador get ready to play a game of soccer.
Blanca, the mother of a sponsored child in Guatemala, proudly wears medals she has won as a runner.
It’s been my lifelong desire to learn a martial art and to master a self-defense practice so I can walk through this world confident, respectful and aware of how I can control my actions.
There exists a resiliency that I believe sports can teach us.
My intent in enrolling my son and me in karate was to help my son hone his voice and body. I also don’t want him to allow shyness to negatively influence his life choices and potential success, as I did.
In class, as in many places of the world, there are boys and girls we’ve seen as examples. A 4-year-old girl helped me find my voice and I now have louder “kiais” (shouts). A young woman has shown me how to teach by the way she celebrates our efforts, yet she also expects more next class.
Sports plays an important role for many in the Unbound community. I enjoyed reading the story of now 13-year-old sponsored child James and his father, from Kenya, who worked to overcome financial and other challenges as James pursued his speed skating dreams.
Kenyan youth's poetry inspired by school, sponsorship
Sponsored youth Brigit from Kenya recites an original poem.
A snippet from Brigit’s handwritten poem.
April is poetry month, and what better way to celebrate than by sharing a poem written by someone sponsored through Unbound?
Brigit is a 15-year-old sponsored youth from Kenya. She’s been reciting poems in school since first grade, which helped her develop an interest in writing her own poetry. Once sponsored, her poems were often inspired by Unbound.
“The support from the program has enabled me to see life differently, with a great meaning, thanks to Unbound,” Brigit said.
Brigit’s been sponsored by Karleen from Indiana since 2012. She wrote the following Unbound-inspired poem when she was just 13 years old.
Veronica serves up a bowl of soup.
It’s often said that the journey is more important than the destination. Veronica’s story demonstrates that sometimes the destination is pretty nice, too.
Veronica lives in Kenya. Widowed at a young age, with two young sons to support, her life was a struggle.
“It was very difficult,” she said. “My husband died when the boys were still very young. Food, clothes, shelter, everything was hard to come by. Looking back, I do not know how I made it through. I had to go back to my rural village, because I had no means to make ends meet. I had no one to depend on. I felt alone.”
Sponsored elder Bernard (center) joins Unbound Kenya communications liaison Regina Mburu (left), and Larry Livingston (right). Bernard, who is blind, was featured in a previous blog post.
By Larry Livingston, senior writer
I recently traveled to Kenya. My main reason for going was to meet people sponsored through Unbound and listen to their stories. I also wanted to meet members of our staff in Kenya and learn how they work with the families.
Since I’ve returned, several people have asked me what I learned from the trip. I have a hard time answering that question at this point, mostly because I need time to sort out my memories, feelings and insights. Like last year’s Christmas tree lights, they’re going to take a while to untangle before they can be illuminated.
Besides, as I get older I find that the most meaningful insights I take away from travel experiences aren’t new. Rather, they’re reminders of universal truths that I had either forgotten or, perhaps, taken for granted. Those insights are always more about people than things. They’re also, in a way, about God.
Here are some ‘old’ insights I took from my trip to Kenya.
Grandfather finds running his own business rewarding
Thomas, an elder sponsored through Unbound, proudly holds some of the yields of his new poultry business.
When Thomas in Kenya was sponsored through Unbound five years ago at the age of 64, he set his sights on becoming an entrepreneur.
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.”
Oscar (left) is a 12-year-old who is sponsored through Unbound and has found his new passion — speed roller skating. His father, Geoffrey (right), is proud to support his son’s dream.
Kenya is a hub for a surprising sport — speed skating. But it’s not the kind on ice that you might be more familiar with because of world-renowned athletes like Apolo Ohno. This is the kind on wheels that happens in bumpy alleyways and paved roads, and is growing in popularity among Kenyan youth
For kids across the globe of all ages, the ability to participate in sports from a young age provides great opportunities for learning, discipline and independence. With education at the forefront, Oscar, a 12-year-old sponsored boy in Kisumu, Kenya, was able to start speed skating as a result of the freedom that Unbound sponsorship provided him and his family.
Lucy makes Uji, a type of porridge common in Kenya.
Lucy built her cooking fire between three stones so she could easily balance the pot over the fire.
By Regina Mburu, communications liaison for Unbound in Africa
Smoke from the cooking fire filled the small kitchen as the contents of a cooking pot boiled. The fire was built between three large stones, with the pot balanced on the edges of the stones, above the fire.
This is what I saw when I visited with Lucy, one of the elders sponsored through Unbound in Kenya. As I made my way to her home, I noticed her well-kept compound and the sound of her singing.
“Welocamu na wakinya guku kwa cucu, siti downi,” Lucy sang.
By Regina Mburu, communications liaison for Unbound in Africa
Regina Mburu, communications liaison for Unbound in Africa
Kenyan women from diverse faiths work together in Unbound mothers groups to empower each other and lift their families out of poverty.
Editor’s note: There have been no reports of youth sponsored through Unbound being affected by the April 2 terror attack on Garissa University College in Kenya.
As the long Easter weekend approached, we were excited and busy making plans on how best to enjoy the holiday with loved ones.
Then we got the news that Garissa University College in the northeastern part of Kenya was under siege. The school is part of the Moi University system.
Terrorists had taken over the Garissa campus. With guns and knives, they took the young lives of 148 students.
Easter celebrations were dampened. The mood was somber as the whole nation was thrown into mourning. Our Kenyan flag, flying at half-mast, served as a symbol to honor the lost lives.
The news media reported that terrorists targeted students who were not of the Islamic faith. Tensions between Christians and Muslims heightened, even while leaders from both faiths condemned the attacks.
Unbound-Kenya serves beneficiaries from both Christian and Islamic religions. As a program, Unbound serves the two religions without favor. Members interact and live harmoniously with each other. Some have formed great friendships, thanks to the Unbound mothers groups.