Jacqueline Castiblanco Suarez, who was sponsored through Unbound from the time she was a young girl until she began a career in social work, and Judith Bautista, Unbound’s coordinator in Bogota, Colombia, know a lot about what goes into a good letter. They shared their expertise and gave several tips for writing a letter to your sponsored friend.
In 2014 several groups of musicians from our Antsirabe program in Madagascar were invited to record their music for the first Voices of Unbound CD. The Voices of Unbound: Madagascar CD was created to celebrate the talent and culture of our Unbound community while increasing awareness of the Unbound program. Below, Rovah, a staff member from our Antsirabe office, and Lydia, a mothers group member and musician, share their stories of participating in the music project. You can listen to the recordings online at unbound.org/music.
By Claudia Stapley, child move coordinator for Unbound
Claudia Stapley is a child move coordinator for Unbound and has been with Unbound for 10 years. When a sponsored member sends in a farewell letter, her team is in charge of processing the letter and contacting the sponsor to let them know their friend is leaving the program. For some this can be an emotional time, and Claudia and her team are there to offer care and understanding.
I’ve been writing to Gemmil in the Philippines since 2010. It’s exciting to hear from him and learn what’s happening in his family. His mom just had a baby this year, plus Gemmil’s in college studying to work on a ship and he tells me about the things he learns, like celestial navigation.
Even with all this excitement, there’s a little pit in my stomach because I know that soon — probably very soon — I’m going to receive a letter telling me that Gemmil is leaving the sponsorship program. I’m so happy for him to be graduating and starting to work. He’ll be able to help his parents and siblings and one day his own family, but I’m also a little sad that our relationship will come to a close.
Families who are part of the Unbound sponsorship program are often found at the frontlines of creating positive change in their own communities. And one such example exists in Ecuador.
Jorge’s favorite spot is the hammock on his front porch.
“I spend the afternoon right here,” he said. “I read the Bible — I stay here until about 8 at night. We eat something, and we go to bed.”
Jorge is 68 years old and lives in Guatemala. Those relaxing afternoons in the hammock are much needed after his long mornings selling clothes in the marketplace.
Jorge and his wife, Reyna, wake up at 5 a.m. every day and try to sell clothes to provide for their daily needs. They may earn $4 or $5 on a good day, but many times they can’t sell anything, leaving them with no money for food or transportation home from the market.
By Naresli Calito, correspondent for Unbound in El Salvador
Joy filled the day when local Unbound staff in El Salvador and awareness trip participants got together for morning prayer with the sponsored elders.
After the elders sang and we shared in a short reflection, we all waited for the testimony from a humble and kind older man named Manuel.
Using his prosthetic arm, Manuel placed a tree leaf on his mouth and started playing a gospel tune. After his song, he introduced himself and said, “Could you take a minute to look at me? Please be honest, don’t I look handsome? This is all thanks to you sponsors.”
By Regina Mburu, communications liaison for Unbound in Africa
Peter has a big smile as he chats with his customers while weighing and chopping meat for them. Peter is from Kenya and works as a butcher, selling goat meat, raw or roasted, to support his family.
“I have been doing this for the last two years,” he said. “It gives me great joy to be a butcher. This job, though it seems messy for some, helps me put food on my family’s table.”
I follow Peter around his butchery, and the zeal with which he goes around doing his work is admirable. As he puts some meat on the fire to roast, Peter lets me in on the history of his business.
By Jennifer Afflerbach, Unbound sponsor
Eight simple words of encouragement: “I can tell you are a good mother.”
That’s what I wrote to Sirlen, the mother of Bryan, the child I sponsor in Costa Rica. Little did I know what a profound effect it would have on her — and on me.
“Thank you for saying that,” she wrote back. “Your letter brought tears to my eyes.”
And her letter brought tears to mine, as I envisioned this strong, courageous mother of four children under the age of 8 being buoyed by such a small gesture on my part.
I knew I had to meet this woman. So I went on an awareness trip to Costa Rica the next year. When we met face to face, it was as if we were old friends — we connected instantly.
And my instinct had been right — she is a very good mother.
After the visit, when I wrote and inquired about their long journey home on mountainous roads, she replied that the trip wasn’t the most difficult part, the goodbye was.
Again, she brought tears to my eyes.
Sponsorship may cost $30 a month, but you can’t put a price tag on the relationship.
Start the journey of sponsorship today.
Horetensia lives in a small town to the west of Guatemala’s capital with her husband, Victor. At 68, she has a clear dream for her future.
“I dream of living my elder years with good health, and I dream of not having to work so hard anymore,” Horetensia said. Laughing, she added, “I no longer have the strength to work hard; it’s not that I turned lazy.”
Hortensia has been working hard all her life. She and her husband started their family in Guatemala City more than 40 years ago. He worked as an auto mechanic, and she had a small business selling tortillas. They had 10 children, though two of them passed away in infancy.
When Victor started having strokes, which made him lose the ability to walk for some time, the burden of supporting their large family fell solely on Hortensia.
The people who sponsor through Unbound are a rather diverse group. Some sponsors are children still in grade school, while others have been retired for years. They represent an array of backgrounds, ethnicities, occupations and beliefs. And while the majority of our sponsors were born and raised in the United States, many were not.
Mercedes Lima has been a sponsor for 21 years. Though she has called Florida home for quite some time, she is originally from a small town in El Salvador.
“I grew up in a very poor place,” Mercedes said, “that’s why I understand the suffering and sadness when you don’t have an opportunity to move forward.”