Olga is a sponsored elder who is the mother of 10 grown children. She has 46 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. That’s a lot of names to remember and a lot of love to spread around. She experienced many challenges throughout her life in Honduras, but she remains positive and an inspiration to many.
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.
In an urban neighborhood in El Salvador, a little boy with a gapped-tooth smile named Rodrigo dreams of becoming a superhero.
But not so he can fly, become invisible or freeze his enemies.
He loves pretending he’s a superhero because every day he sees people who need one.
In a country where more than a third of the population lives in poverty, including Rodrigo, hungry bellies, leaky roofs and families struggling to send their kids to school and to get ahead are everyday realities.
“My dream is to be a superhero,” Rodrigo said. “To save and help people.”
By Martin Kraus, director of finance for Unbound
“You must become the change you want to see.”
As I walked through the Mumbai airport in India, I couldn’t help but notice this quote on a huge banner hanging overhead. Most of us, whether from India or not, easily recognize this quote as being from Mahatma Gandhi, one of India’s most influential and respected leaders. What struck me are the many ways in which I am privileged to see Gandhi’s quote being put into action all over the world.
At Unbound, our sponsors take this quote to heart by taking action. Their sponsorship allows them to “become the change” that this world so badly needs, and in doing so, they make significant changes in the worlds of others. Recently, while performing an audit of Unbound’s office in Manila, Philippines, I met two beautiful examples.
Joseph, 22, is a sponsored student in Kenya. When he was 2, Joseph’s parents noticed that he wasn’t able to do some of the same things other children his age could. By the time he was 3, he was unable to walk or move around.
His parents took him to a local hospital, where he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that impairs movement and is caused by brain damage during development.
Joseph underwent surgery to help straighten his legs. He also received physical therapy and used crutches for some time. In all, he spent four years in the hospital being treated for his condition.
Joseph was finally able to join primary school at the age of 7. He was one of the best students in the class.
Joseph’s parents found it hard to get by with Joseph’s medical expenses, four children in school and no steady income. Unbound staff in their area learned of the family’s situation, and in 2002 Joseph was sponsored. The support he received from his sponsor meant his parents could continue paying for his education.
Joseph’s schooling, however, was interrupted in fourth grade when he had to have another surgery.. He spent another year in the hospital, which meant he had to repeat fourth grade. Despite the difficulties, he continued to excel when he returned to school and even managed to score highly on the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education.
With his high scores, Joseph received a scholarship from the Jomo Kenyatta Foundation, which combined with his sponsorship benefits meant his parents could send him to a better secondary school.
The first secondary school Joseph attended wasn’t the best fit. His condition made it difficult for him to write, which made it hard to keep up with the other students. But it was the negative treatment he received from some of his classmates that was the biggest challenge.
Seeing his struggles, Joseph’s parents decided to transfer him to a school that specialized in teaching students with disabilities. Being among others who faced similar challenges boosted Joseph’s self-confidence.
Joseph recently graduated secondary school with good grades, and plans to pursue a degree in business administration from Kenyatta University. While he waits to get into the university, Joseph puts his time to good use.
He volunteers at his old primary school teaching math and Kiswahili, and he helps out at the Unbound office near his home.
When giving advice to younger students, he keeps it simple. “Disability is not inability,” Joseph said. “Work hard and stay focused.”
Donations to Health help provide equipment and therapeutic devices to sponsored friends with disabilities, along with many other health related initiatives.
by Cara VanNice, communications director for Unbound
Our recent coverage of the violence in Kenya, the plight of girls in India and the Central American children at the U.S. border highlight a common thread that runs throughout the communities where Unbound works – urgency. We are where we are because we are needed there. Help is needed there.
Sponsorship makes a difference in not just your sponsored friend’s life, but your life, too.
At Unbound, we connect compassionate people and build relationships.
By Akansha Roy, CFCA communications liaison for India
Unfolding into the Indian culture brought joy to a group of sponsors.
They traveled to India on an awareness trip and became a part of their sponsored child’s everyday reality. They had a bright smile at the end of each day.
Sponsors explored the lifestyle, cuisine and hospitality of India, and gave CFCA staff and families a chance to present their talents and introduce the sponsors to the best of their reality.