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.”
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.
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“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.
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.”
By Larry Livingston, senior writer/editor
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is properly associated with the U.S. civil rights movement of the mid-20th century. But like all great people, his witness transcends his times.
The heroism of Dr. King is found, as it is for other noble figures throughout history, in his commitment to speak truth to power. It is a simple virtue to understand but a most difficult one to live out. Those who do usually pay a price for it.
Though Dr. King did in fact pay the ultimate price for his commitment to naming injustice for what it was, the words he spoke live on. Nearly 50 years after his assassination, he continues to inspire those who strive to create a more just world.
Tom Slattery remembers the day he first saw a picture of Francisca, the elderly woman he sponsors in the Philippines.
He and his wife decided to sponsor someone after hearing a priest speak about Unbound at church one weekend. Tom’s wife, Nancy, chose a child. Tom picked Francisca after seeing her photo because “everybody was gravitating to the young people,” and he thought an older person would need support as well.
That was in 1996, when Francisca was 84. She’s 103 now.
“She is a beautiful human being,” Tom said. “She has meant a lot to me over the years, and to my wife.”
By Veronica Batton, writer/editor
It’s around 9 a.m. when Edwin Cocon, a social worker for Unbound in Guatemala, walks into a large room with cinderblock walls and a round tin roof. Wooden tables covered in plastic tablecloths line the walls, and plastic lawn chairs are haphazardly arranged around them.
Cocon begins to straighten the chairs when more than 100 sponsored children, with big smiles and eyes that suggest an eagerness for the day’s activity, flood into the room.
It’s letter-writing day, and there will be several more to come. In a period of 11 days, more than 2,000 sponsored friends will visit this room and compose letters to their sponsors.