Myrna Cado and Loretta Kline wait in the rain for Pope Francis’ closing Mass to start. Myrna is a community leader and the mother of a sponsored child. She lost three of her children in 2000 after her home was swept away in a flash flood.
By Loretta Shea Kline, managing editor for Unbound
I witnessed generosity in abundance while in the Philippines for Pope Francis’ mid-January visit.
It was the kind of generosity in which people give, not from excess, but of themselves.
Pope Francis went to Tacloban to be with survivors of Typhoon Haiyan as another storm approached. I heard more than one person say how the gift of his presence gave them courage to face trials in their lives.
From left: Maritza, Karla’s mother, Karla, Mercedes and Marlene Garcia de Ramirez, an Unbound social worker in El Salvador.
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.”
Elizabeth Alex, second from left, visits the home of Kusma, whose son Alok is sponsored through Unbound in India.
By Elizabeth Alex, community outreach and media relations director for Unbound
You meet some of the nicest people in a slum.
I learned that lesson the moment Kusma welcomed me into her home — a tiny, two-room place packed into a congested street — with the sounds of motorcycles, car horns, cows, food carts and the chatter of children joining the smells of exhaust, cow dung, dust and curry just outside her door.
The “door” is actually a few cloths draped in front of the entrance. The roof is a piece of tarp attached by some sticks and rope.
I met Kusma at the Unbound office in Agra, where she helps her mothers group raise money sewing shoe covers for visitors to the Taj Mahal. She invited me to visit any time. Read more about Elizabeth’s visit
Sponsor Tom Slattery greets his sponsored friend Francisca on an awareness trip to the Philippines.
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.”
David and his son, Nick, (second row, third and fourth from left) on an awareness trip to Honduras in August, 2014.
From left: Nick, Reyna and David
Massachusetts sponsor David Scarpello has gone on three Unbound awareness trips to Honduras since 2007. On his latest visit earlier this year, he decided to take his 13-year-old son, Nick. From his own previous experience, David knew the awareness trip could be a good learning tool.
“I wanted [Nick] to have an appreciation and better understanding of what growing up in poverty is,” David said. “I hoped it would give him a greater appreciation of what he has and the advantages he has growing up in the United States.”
Unbound awareness trips offer travelers the opportunity to meet the people they sponsor and see first-hand the impact our program has on individuals and communities. David started sponsoring in 2001, but it was the letter he received in 2007 from his sponsored friend Reyna that gave him the final push he needed to go on his first trip.
Barclay Martin, new channels coordinator for Unbound
Toy instruments are displayed at a stand in Madagascar.
By Barclay Martin, new channels coordinator for Unbound
It is an outlandish thing to make your living as a singer/songwriter, and one of the lessons it taught me early was that in order to make it, you have to hustle.
You have to release the notion that just because a morning of coffee and scratching in a notebook renders a song the world is compelled to respond. There’s a brawn to art, the idea that beneath the lustrous promise of a new creation there is muscle and metal driving it. With each release, there is a constant chirping in my brain, beckoning people to pay attention for a moment to what I’m doing. It is a daily battle for a sliver of presence in a world more infinitely layered than we could ever know.
Caitlyn meets Ever and his family for the first time.
By Naresli Calito, correspondent for Unbound in El Salvador
Caitlyn had the opportunity to meet her sponsored friend, Ever, on an awareness trip to El Salvador. She is 16 years old, likes to read and enjoys sharing time with her family. They are very close to their faith and frequently attend church.
Although she is young, she has a very strong feeling about helping others. She babysits to pay for Ever’s sponsorship.
“[Sponsorship] makes me feel I need and want to be involved,” Caitlyn said. “It’s a great feeling. I love Ever. It’s about forming a bond with someone from another culture.”
Nicole (left) with Dylan, his mom, Evelyn, and his baby brother, Anderson.
Linda and Nicole Miller outside the program office in Costa Rica.
By Nicole Miller, support specialist for Unbound
Recently Nicole Miller traveled to Costa Rica on an awareness trip. Nicole has worked for Unbound for 10 years, and this was her first time visiting an Unbound program office. She shared with us her experiences during the trip.
Diamondra wears the new dress she received for her birthday.
By Barclay Martin, new channels coordinator
Recently Barclay Martin traveled to Madagascar to record a CD with sponsored members and their families. On the trip, he also visited several sponsored members’ homes. This is the story of one of those visits.