Like most moms, Maria is a busy woman. Cooking, cleaning and getting her children ready for school are just a few of the things that make up her daily routine. Maria is also involved in starting her own business and improving the health and wellness of her community. It’s a full plate, but she’s excited about each opportunity that comes her way.
Amos Kihoro, youth program coordinator for Unbound in Nairobi, recently visited our headquarters in Kansas City. He shared stories about the young people he works with and offered advice on communicating with and understanding young adults.
Read his Q&A here
Letter writing is an important aspect of Unbound’s sponsorship program. Not only do we require sponsored members to write at least two letters a year to their sponsors, we encourage sponsors to write back. We frequently hear from sponsored members how much getting letters from their sponsors means to them. Sometimes those letters have the ability to change lives.
But when sponsored friends are between sponsors, they don’t have anyone to write to or receive letters from. When sponsors must discontinue their support, their sponsored friends continue to participate in the program and receive assistance while Unbound tries to find new sponsors for them.
Currently, we have more than 5,000 children, youth and elders waiting for new sponsors. Some of them have only been waiting a couple of months, while others have been waiting a couple of years. They’re missing out on a huge part of the Unbound program experience.
Milestone moments don’t happen every day. For Jolly, a sponsored youth in the Philippines, graduating from college is one of his happiest memories. While most graduates walk toward the stage to get their degrees, Jolly was walking toward his mom.
“When my name was called by the host in our graduation, my mother was clapping her hands,” said Jolly, a sponsored youth living in the Philippines. “I was the one who got her hand and we walked together up the stage. She was the one who put the medal on my neck. I was so happy that moment,” he said.
The old adage, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” rings true for Maria’s family.
She and the other six members of her family work hard reclaiming items from the streets of their Mexican neighborhood.
“First, I am a mother. This is my first and most important job,” Maria said. “I enjoy doing overtime mother’s work, even if I don’t get paid for it,” she laughed.
But in order to pay the bills, Maria has a very different job — she is a pepenadora or one who searches through trash for a living.
Rolando didn’t have a father growing up in Cartagena, Colombia. His dad died in a car crash when he was just a baby, and his mother died from diabetes when he was only 3 years old.
“I don’t recall much of my parents,” Rolando said, “but I remember my mother being a hard-working woman, and remember her selling fried food downtown. … The one thing I remember from her is the big love she gave us; that is something that I still have inside me.”
On June 16, 1976, more than 100 students in Soweto, South Africa, were shot and killed and thousands were injured after a protest for equal and quality education for all children.
Tomorrow, June 16, is the Day of the African Child. This day has been celebrated every year since 1991 in memory of those who participated in the Soweto protest and to raise awareness for the continued improvement of Africa’s educational systems.
By Luis Cocón, Unbound’s communications liaison in Guatemala
“They should have never been born.”
“It’s the mothers’ fault that our country is the way it is — so underdeveloped.”
“She doesn’t understand that giving birth to one child after another only multiplies poverty. Now there is yet another digit in malnourished children statistics.”
Typical comments from some of the very powerful in my country.
Maria Angelica has grown up around nurses and hospitals.
Born almost three months early, she spent much of her first four years in the hospital before being diagnosed with kidney failure and a tumor in her liver. Though the doctors were able to remove the tumor, Maria Angelica’s health continued to worsen. She needed a new kidney, but the waiting list was long and knowledge about organ donation was almost nonexistent in Bolivia in the late 90s.
“It is too difficult to find a donor,” said Maria Elena, Maria Angelica’s mother. “When they went to sign up my daughter, she was number 600 on that list. It is very difficult; there is no awareness to donate organs here.”
Seven-year-old Hanna lives in Mexico with her mom, dad, big brother and little sister. Hanna loves to play with her friends and be active, despite having asthma and allergies. Her favorite part about school is doing art projects.
Her dad is a seasonal day laborer, and on average the family income is only $160 a month when her dad can find work. With her mom in need of medical treatment, meeting the costs of sending all three children to school is becoming increasingly difficult for the family.
For Hanna, getting a sponsor would mean she can stay in school. She would also have access to regular health check-ups, better nutrition and special events with other sponsored kids, among other benefits. But the best benefit she would receive would be knowing that someone in another part of the world believes in her and wants to help her and her family have a better future.
Editor’s note: Since this was posted, Hanna has found a sponsor. Click here to view other kids waiting for a sponsor.