Former Unbound scholar Helen wears her police uniform with pride.
In the United States, Labor Day is meant to celebrate the contributions of workers toward the success and prosperity of the country. It’s a day to rest and say thanks for all their hard work.
Unbound communities are also full of hard workers, from moms and social workers to group leaders and scholars. According to former Unbound scholar Helen from the Philippines, being part of the scholar program even helped instill a stronger work ethic in her and her fellow scholars.
Helen is the second youngest of four siblings. While she was never sponsored through Unbound like her sister Rose was, Helen did take part in the Unbound program for two years when she became one of the service scholars for the office in Zamboanga, Philippines.
Yuda is a former sponsored youth from Uganda who has earned a master’s degree and is now a teacher. “My sponsor has played a big role in my life,” Yuda said. “The support, encouragement and financial help I have gotten made me reach my goals and dream.”
Education opens up opportunities in life, especially when entering the job market. And for a child living in poverty, a good education can become the means by which she lifts her family out of poverty. But education isn’t a guarantee for much of the world, and for many children it’s a luxury their family might not be able to afford.
In many of the countries where Unbound works, families are often required by the schools to pay for things like textbooks and cover additional fees, or families of school-age children view education as a low priority compared to other needs of the family.
In some families, children and youth may be expected to leave school at a young age so they can work to provide additional income or help take care of younger siblings. These families are faced with the decision of sacrificing their child’s education in favor of feeding the family and keeping a roof over their heads.
Ismael Kwenga, a former sponsored member from Meru, Kenya.
By Ismael Kwenga, a former sponsored member
When a sponsored member leaves the program, especially after completing their education, it marks a new chapter in their lives. Sometimes Unbound is part of that new chapter, like when a former sponsored member takes on a staff position, but other times their lives take a different path.
That’s why it’s always a great joy to hear from former sponsored members about what they are doing after leaving the program. We received the following letter from Ismael in Meru, Kenya, updating us about his future plans. He left the program last year after completing his college degree. And though he is no longer part of the Unbound program, his story is a testimony to the lasting impact sponsorship can have on someone’s life.
Gaby spends part of her volunteer time with Unbound in the correspondence department in El Salvador.
Many obstacles keep children living in poverty from reaching their full potential.
Gaby was raised by a single mother in a rural region of El Salvador, so the odds were already against her.
Gaby’s father passed away, leaving her mother, Dina, as the sole provider for Gaby and her four siblings. Dina’s income as a baker fluctuates, as her wages depend on how many orders she gets and how much bread she sells daily.
Ariel, 21, a former sponsored member and current staff member in the Philippines.
A healthy dose of community, perseverance and hope go a long way in combatting the daily struggles of those facing poverty. Unbound’s sponsorship program prescribed that remedy for Ariel from the Philippines.
Billy and Mary Lou from Arizona sponsored Ariel when he was just 7 years old, which unlocked a world of opportunity he never knew.
“I had faced a lot of hindrances in my life, many problems, trials and conflicts,” Ariel said. “Problems in family and school made me strong and responsible enough to stand up on my own.”
Gabriela, a sponsored youth and scholarship holder from Honduras.
Gabriela is the quintessential leader.
She excels in her studies. She coordinates a church group. And she’s a service scholar and mentor for other sponsored friends in Unbound.
But Gabriela hasn’t always been an all-around leader. She’s come a long way since she was first sponsored at 4 years old.
Ingrid (right) and her mother Maria in their home.
Ingrid lives in Guatemala, where, according to the World Bank’s source Barro-Lee, on average girls complete about six years of schooling. In 2015, she graduated as a certified bilingual education teacher. Luis Cocon, communications liaison for Unbound in Guatemala, had the opportunity to meet Ingrid and hear her story during her final year of school before graduation.
Mayra, an Unbound scholar, at home with her mother, Patricia, in Guatemala.
Sometimes it’s difficult to see the true impact of your contribution, especially when you contribute to a program helping many, like our Education program
, without knowing who will actually benefit from your contribution.
With a sponsorship, you have the chance to pick the person you want to help, and you can build a relationship through photos and letters. But when you make a contribution to the Education program, who gets to continue their schooling?
Mayra from Guatemala and Cristian from Colombia are just two of the many students who receive scholarship assistance from Unbound’s Education program to continue their schooling.
Mark, 18, is a scholarship student in the Philippines.
Mark has received numerous academic awards throughout his life.
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.
Faith, an Unbound sponsored youth and scholar in Kenya.
When most girls her age were playing with dolls, Faith was wondering where she and her sister would get their next meal.
Faith was 7 when her father passed away. Three years later her mother grew ill and died, leaving Faith at 10 years old to care for herself and her younger sister.