A Guatemalan cemetery decorated on Day of the Dead.
Guatemalans celebrate Day of the Dead on Nov. 1 and 2, coinciding with All Saints Day and All Souls Day. The celebrations are a way to remember loved ones who have passed away.
“We celebrate with a mixture of traditions from the Maya and the Spaniards,” said Norma, whose son, Rodvin, is sponsored through Unbound in Guatemala. “My mother showed me to offer fruits, food, flowers and any other things that our deceased liked when alive. We believe that they visit us on this day to share the offerings that we prepare for them. We also believe in prayers as a way of talking with them and asking God for their eternal rest.”
Tristan John Cabrera, communications liaison for Unbound in the Philippines.
A photo of Tristan’s grandfather placed on his grave during Undás.
By Tristan John Cabrera, communications liaison for Unbound in the Philippines
Tristan John Cabrera is the communications liaison for Unbound in the Philippines. Each year, Filipino families spend Nov. 1 and 2 at the gravesites of their family members who have passed away. The two days are referred to as Undás. Tristan shared with us his experiences of the tradition.
Every year for Undás, observed Nov. 1 and 2, my family and I visit the graves of our loved ones who have passed away. On Oct. 31 we start building a tent to serve as our shelter for our two-day stay in the cemetery. We start early because of the large number of people who will also build their tents and visit their deceased loved ones.
Margarita (left) helps lift a roaster full of cocoa beans off the fire.
Happy (almost) Chocolate Day! Tomorrow, Oct. 28, is National Chocolate Day. To celebrate, we’re sharing the story of Margarita in Guatemala. Chocolate is an important part of Margarita’s life. And not just hers, but her community’s as well.
“[Chocolate is] the way that I earn for my family’s food expenses and my children’s school expenses,” Margarita said. “When customers place an order, I know how much I will earn for my children. …”
Chocolate is also important for others in my community because sometimes I need help and I give them work. I ask for their help to peel and roast cocoa beans. It takes about 10 people to peel 100 pounds of cocoa beans in one or two days.”
This photo of Kathy, her children, Kristen, Alex and Gabriel (front), and her husband, Bob, gave new meaning to the relationship they had with their sponsored friend, Jay.
By Kathy Ackerman, Unbound sponsor
Kathy Ackerman has been an Unbound sponsor for 12 years. She has been sponsoring Jay for half that time. She shares how one family photo changed the relationship between her family and Jay.
For many years my family has sponsored a child through Unbound. Jay is the second child from the Philippines we have been able to help by providing financial support through this organization.
It is very easy to write a check and feel good about making a difference. We frequently received update letters from Jay. I occasionally sent a short note or card back, but honestly, I didn’t fully invest myself in trying to establish a relationship with this child so far away.
Mamisoa receives a scholarship through Unbound in Madagascar. His scholarship is funded by donations to Education.
By Barclay Martin, new channels coordinator
I met Mamisoa at the Unbound-Madagascar central office while he was helping out with an event for aging members of the Unbound community. He’s studying earth sciences and wants to work to improve the water quality for people in Madagascar. He was introduced as one of the scholarship recipients. Unbound scholarships are funded by donations to Education. Luckily, I had a chance to pose some questions to Mamisoa.
Cieleto manning the counter at the computer shop where he works.
Cieleto works from home repairing computers.
Pay it forward. It’s what Cieleto Fernandez does every day.
Cieleto is an alumnus of Unbound’s Quezon program in Agoo, La Union, in the Philippines. He was part of Unbound for 14 years and finished his education in computer technology. Now he works in a computer shop owned by a friend.
For a few years Cieleto had his own shop, which he operated out of his house. He assembled desktop computers from spare parts gathered from his neighborhood and friends. He made enough money to send his sister to school for a two-year hotel and restaurant management course.
The enterprising young man also went back school to earn a teaching certificate so he can teach computer courses and share his knowledge with youth.
For those compelled to think that people who live in poverty have nothing but their need to offer the world, I might begin by offering them the example of the extraordinary group, Migasy. This ensemble of musicians from the Unbound Madagascar community has developed a sophisticated sound with thoughtful messages. Messages that move humanity forward. These are engaged people who, amidst struggle, have committed themselves to creating works of art.
As they played song after song for us, I thought about the instruments that they played — some of them borrowed, some of them held together with rubber bands and plastic. These are the stories that don’t come through the music at first listen. They must be told. So should the very fact that they shared their music with us so others might have opportunity to go to school through Unbound scholarships. They were proud to do it.
As we recorded, the spirit in the room was of generosity. For each of the artists in Migasy, the desire to grow as musicians and offer something of substance moves them forward. For my part, I simply felt lucky to be in the presence of beautiful artists who had managed to do so much with so little.
It is the best of our human spirit set to music. It’s their gift to us.
Caitlyn meets Ever and his family for the first time.
By Naresli Calito, correspondent for Unbound in El Salvador
Caitlyn had the opportunity to meet her sponsored friend, Ever, on an awareness trip to El Salvador. She is 16 years old, likes to read and enjoys sharing time with her family. They are very close to their faith and frequently attend church.
Although she is young, she has a very strong feeling about helping others. She babysits to pay for Ever’s sponsorship.
“[Sponsorship] makes me feel I need and want to be involved,” Caitlyn said. “It’s a great feeling. I love Ever. It’s about forming a bond with someone from another culture.”
Nicole (left) with Dylan, his mom, Evelyn, and his baby brother, Anderson.
Linda and Nicole Miller outside the program office in Costa Rica.
By Nicole Miller, support specialist for Unbound
Recently Nicole Miller traveled to Costa Rica on an awareness trip. Nicole has worked for Unbound for 10 years, and this was her first time visiting an Unbound program office. She shared with us her experiences during the trip.