It’s 3 a.m. in northwestern Nicaragua, with sunrise still more than two hours away, and sisters Susana and Jazmin are already waking up. Together they grind corn they prepared the night before into flour. Their mother, Maria, starts a fire in their wood-burning stove. Then, while Jazmin showers and prepares for school, Susana helps Maria make tortillas.
The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is Aug. 9, and we thought it was fitting to hear from a few sponsored youth from the Dumagat tribe, an indigenous community in the Philippines, about their heritage and hopes for the future.
If home is where the heart is, Beneranda’s home has always been the small patch of Nicaraguan farmland she inherited from her father. But for most of her adult life, it was a home without a house.
Rosa gave birth to Jose at her home in Guatemala. When he was just 2 weeks old, she realized something was wrong.
“His skin seemed fragile and it did not look normal,” she said. “It looked like nylon skin. … We decided to take him to see a doctor. They said he was born with this dry skin illness named ichthyosis.”
Flor starts her day at 4 a.m. She wakes up, brushes her teeth and then grinds corn so her grandmother can make and sell tortillas. She then works as a nanny from 6 until around noon. After that she tries to spend some time with her family before she heads out again for her night classes from 6 until around 10. After class, she takes the bus home and gets ready for bed.
“That’s my daily routine,” she said. “That’s how my beautiful days are.”
Teresia always had an interest in beaded items and was curious about how they were made, so when the opportunity arose to learn beading, she jumped at the chance.
Mark is a good student, finishing in the top three in his high school in the Philippines. But despite this accomplishment, going to college wasn’t a certainty. His parents’ medical issues meant the family budget was tighter than ever, and there just wasn’t anything extra to help pay for college fees.
Karen has experienced much trauma in her life — from domestic violence and a near fatal attack from her first husband to being abandoned by her second husband. Now the 31-year-old single mother of three in Colombia is raising her children alone in a humble home made of bamboo sticks and rusted sheet metal.
Karen’s strength and hope for her children’s future shines brightly. Her daughter is sponsored through Unbound, and while the tangible benefits help her family, the sense of belonging and hope she feels from the Unbound program is just as meaningful.