(And our answers!)
1. Are the trips safe?
The safety of our travelers, sponsored friends and staff is of utmost importance. Local Unbound staff members are your hosts during the awareness trip and accompany the group at all times. Our local staff is from the destination country and lives there. Our social workers visit the neighborhoods, towns and countryside regularly and need to be well aware of safety concerns.
Because of their unique qualifications and background, our local staff is responsible for putting together the schedule of activities for your trip and choosing the communities you will visit. We avoid taking groups into areas or neighborhoods where there is tension. The members of the communities are excited to welcome sponsors.
Nobody can guarantee safety, and we aren’t naïve to the realities in the countries where we work, but we take every reasonable measure to minimize risks for our travelers. We monitor current events, weather situations, political climates, guidance by the U.S. State Department and more. We take seriously any alerts from the State Department against non-essential travel to a country or to a specific area within a country. We’re in regular communication with our local staff members and stay up to date on security matters. We’ve even cancelled trips when we’ve felt it prudent based on local conditions. Doing what we can to minimize safety concerns is a big responsibility, and we take it very seriously.
We also have expectations for our travelers regarding their behavior during the trip. Everyone is expected to stay with the group, follow instructions by staff, and make sure they are aware of (and adhering to!) the other rules for conduct that are outlined in the Travel Agreement found in the registration materials.
Unbound awareness trips offer the opportunity to see a side of a country travelers wouldn’t normally have access to. Being aware of all these factors allows us to anticipate and reduce risks travelers might otherwise experience in the places we visit.
Check out the rest of the questions!
A member of the ERPAT fathers group reviews information about local conditions following Typhoon Henry.
Families in Marikina City, served by our Manila program, seek refuge in a local storm shelter along with others from their community.
This photo of flooding caused by Typhoon Henry in the Philippines was taken by the mother of sponsored child.
Typhoon Henry caused severe flooding as it approached the Philippines on July 17, causing 29 families served by Unbound’s Antipolo program to seek refuge at evacuation shelters. Knee-deep waters have been reported in the area, and some homes of sponsored families have significant water and mud damage. The Unbound ERPAT Disaster and Management Team, mothers groups and local staff served porridge to sponsored families and other evacuees at one evacuation site. The ERPAT, a federation of fathers who participate in the Unbound program, is following the situation closely and is standing by to assist sponsored families if their situations worsen. In times of natural disasters and other emergencies, Unbound will notify sponsors directly if we learn that their sponsored friends have been injured or otherwise seriously affected. We will continue to provide updates on the situation as we receive information from the Philippines. Unbound serves more than 46,000 children, youth and elders in the Philippines.
What I’ve learned on Unbound awareness trips
By Joanna Pergande, Unbound trip coordinator
Unbound staff member Joanna Pergande (second from right) with sponsors Servando, Susan, Christine and Albert on an awareness trip to Colombia.
As a trip coordinator for Unbound, I’ve had the privilege of traveling with sponsors on awareness trips throughout the world. I’ve only been with Unbound since 2014, and I’m amazed by what I’ve been able to experience in the last four years. I’ve been on 14 trips total, traveling to 11 different countries, including Mexico, Chile, Kenya and the Philippines, and I’ve learned something new on each trip, both personally and professionally. During this time, I’ve met hundreds of sponsors from all over the United States and many of our local Unbound staff serving in Africa, Latin America and Asia.
For those still on the fence about going on an awareness trip, and those who want to learn more, here are some of my top learnings from the last four years:
Watch our latest video to see why we believe in moms across the world
Sleep is hard to come by. A moment of solitude? Not going to happen. Second-guessing the parenting decisions they make daily? Yes.
Add all that stress to living in poverty — any mom would be overwhelmed.
So how do moms keep their families moving forward? Because they’re master multitaskers. Because they mean business when it comes to setting goals. Because they get the job done no matter what. Because moms are stronger together. #becausemoms
No matter where they are, moms need each other’s support.
Moms around the world understand the need for community. Whether it’s a monthly play date, a Facebook moms group, or a relative close by to lend a hand, community lightens the load, tells us we aren’t alone and becomes our own personal cheering section.
Alice, Lucy and Virginia are members of a mothers group in Kenya. They work together to set goals and create plans to achieve them.
It’s this notion of community that’s foundational to why Unbound is different. Our field staffs help to organize and encourage small groups of women across the Unbound world, to not only help the women leverage their knowledge of their families’ needs, aspirations and talents, but to take full advantage of their own skillsets. Because of their expertise, these moms are well positioned as primary decision makers in our program. We let them shine while remaining available to offer support and encouragement along the way.
Three determined women show what it means to lead
The Unbound world is full of people gathering up their courage and taking risks in order to find success. Our sponsored friends and their families give us amazing examples of how we can all be at our best for each other. The following stories are about three women from the Unbound world who exemplify this strength and teach us what it means to be courageous.
The courage to be honest
Yomira, left, teaches Unbound scholarship students Gisela and Anjely about the record system used by the Lima office in Peru. The students work in the office to fulfill community service requirements of the scholarship program.
Yomira, 22, is a former sponsored child who is now a full-time Unbound staff member in Lima.
Growing up in a small community outside of Lima, Peru, Yomira and her peers were confronted with drugs, gangs, prostitution and alcoholism. Relying on the values of her strong family and a healthy sense of self-esteem, Yomira was able to avoid these pitfalls. She channeled her energy into dance, where she performed with a group at schools and public events.
Difficulties did come, however, when Yomira became pregnant at a young age. Since she had established good communication with her Unbound sponsor, she decided to share the news with her.
“At first, I thought, ‘I’ve lost everything.’ My parents were upset with me, and I thought she [my sponsor] was not going to continue being my sponsor; I really did not know what to do,” Yomira said. “But she wrote me and told me that she was going to continue supporting me.
Celebrating International Women's Day
It’s International Women’s Day March 8, so we’re sharing the stories of three remarkable Kenyan women. Women like these are the backbone of Unbound programs, demonstrating the strength and courage it takes to create real change for their families and communities.
Making her own decisions
People in her community didn’t take Elizabeth seriously when she started her business carrying passengers to school and work on the back of her bicycle.
They said it was man’s work and questioned whether she was strong enough. That was more than 10 years ago.
“At first they doubted me and would not let me carry them, but with time I have been accepted,” she said.
Elizabeth shows off the bike she relies on for her livelihood.
Hear the answers during our livestreaming event
On September 13, at our HQ in Kansas City, Kansas, we’ll be broadcasting our Global Insight Series on Facebook Live!
Unbound program coordinators Hugo Plaza Beltran of Bolivia, Chico Chavajay of Guatemala and Manuel Pineda of Honduras will be answering questions about how the Unbound program works in each of their countries. They understand deeply the joys and challenges of partnering with families living in poverty. Hear from these experts about how sponsorship gives families the opportunity to dream about tomorrow.
We know not everyone can make it to Kansas City, so we’re bringing the event to you. Head over to our Facebook page and submit a question for one of our project coordinators at any time. Then, tune in at 5:30 on September 13 for the countdown to the livestreaming event and you may hear the answer to your question.
Want to attend the event in person? Visit Unbound.org/insightseries to reserve your spot today!
Unbound recognized for stories connecting readers with families, staff
Social worker Anibal Perez (right) visits with Angelica and Emerson, the mother and brother of sponsored child Ada in Guatemala. This photo was featured in a story that received second place in a feature writing category at the Catholic Press Awards.
Unbound is pleased to announce that we brought home two honors from this year’s Catholic Press Awards, sponsored by the Catholic Press Association.
Visit Honduras, Nicaragua
Visit communities like this one in Honduras.
Learn about the livelihood projects of parents, such as making these hammocks, when you visit Nicaragua.
Looking for a meaningful getaway this summer? Why not go on an awareness trip with Unbound?
Unbound awareness trips offer an adventure like no other, all under the careful guidance of our staff in Kansas City and the country where you travel. From arranging your accommodations, itinerary, meals and in-country transportation, to connecting you with sponsored members and their families to learn about their lives, Unbound staff members are your guides.
There are still spots open for our August trips to Honduras and Nicaragua.
“Until one meets and experiences the child or elder in the home and sees how many people in the country live in poverty, a poverty that challenges their existence and that of their children, one cannot really understand how Unbound positively impacts their lives.” — Margaret from Minnesota
“I was impressed by the happiness and spirit of people who live in poverty. They are affectionate, outgoing and appreciative of everything they have.” — Nancy from Georgia
“I gained a better understanding of how people live in another culture through this trip.” — Mariellyn from Minnesota”
Can’t make those dates but still want to travel with Unbound? Visit unbound.org/trips to see the full schedule.