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.
We’re pleased to present the second installment of Unbound Unscripted, a monthly video series featuring staff members in our Kansas City office. Watch this video to meet Matt Young from the service center, where he heads up a team with a combined 89 years of experience.
Eustaquia stands arm in arm with her husband, Felipe, outside their home. After his accident, she became the family’s main provider.
Eustaquia puts items that can be recycled into her cart.
People committed to recycling recognize beauty and worth in what others discard. Some also recognize a way to generate income. Eustaquia is an elder who recycles to earn a living. Now 76, she lives in Mexico with her husband, Felipe, whom she describes as her “wonderful companion.” Together, they raised seven children, now all grown and married.
Felipe was seriously injured in an accidental shooting 14 years ago, after which he suffered debilitating memory loss and was unable to work. As a result, Eustaquia needed to find a way to earn an income and began recycling.
Eusebio enjoys some time outdoors with his “soulmate,” wife Tiburcia.
Sometimes a person doesn’t realize how bad things have been until they begin to see how much better they can be.
That’s the way it was for sponsored elder Eusebio, 73, from Guatemala. Six years ago he injured his leg while collecting firewood. But because he couldn’t afford proper medical care, the wound never healed and eventually developed into a trophic ulcer.
When Eusebio became sponsored through Unbound in 2014, he was finally able to see a doctor. He learned just how close he had come to losing his leg and, possibly, his life. He began receiving treatment, which continues today.
Clair Paul, center, with some of her fellow Outreach team coworkers.
By Clair Paul, lead Outreach Coordinator for Unbound
It’s 2017 and we are excited to start a new year, set new goals and find new ways to share Unbound in communities around the country.
Last year, more than 1,700 children and elders were sponsored because our supporters talked about Unbound to people they know. Wow! That’s 1,700 families that can now send their kids to school, put healthy food on the table and know that someone believes in them reaching for their dreams.
And all because somebody was willing to start a conversation.
Peter holds a handful of the charcoal that he sells to sustain his family.
Peter, from Kenya, is 48 years old and a single father of eight children. Peter supports his family through a charcoal business, which he was able to expand with the help of the Unbound mother’s group to which he belongs, and support from the sponsorship of two of his children.
“I had two wives,” Peter said. “One wife died while giving birth to our daughter. … [My second wife and I] had a conflict, and she walked away from our children and me. I have since adjusted and decided to take up life as a single father.”
At 23 years old, Gabriela is determined to complete her education so she can become a lawyer.
Gabriela lives with her mother and three brothers in Guatemala and has been sponsored by Bruno in Canada since 1996. With the support of her family and of her sponsor, Gabriela is closer to her dreams of completing her education and opening a law office to serve the poor, despite the obstacles poverty has put in her way.
“I dream of helping others,” Gabriela said. “I decided to study law because the poor usually don’t have access to a lawyer. I feel that my career will provide the opportunity to help the less fortunate and defend their rights.”
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.”
After his father left three years ago, Brayan and his family were in a tough situation. His mother, Lucretia, had to leave then 8-year-old Brayan at home with his older sister for long periods while she worked far away to pay off a bank loan. Fortunately, Brayan heard about Unbound from a friend at school who was sponsored.
“I told my mother and she was able to reach the office and talk to the coordinator,” Brayan said. “I have now been sponsored for three years. I had to wait for about a year to find a sponsor.”