This is the second part to our post about our awareness trip team in Kansas City. These amazing staff members are dedicated to making sure our travelers have all the information they need to have a great trip and a chance to learn more about Unbound’s work. Learn about the trips team, and then check out upcoming awareness trips with Unbound. Get to know the team
The personal connection between a sponsor and sponsored friend is among the best outcomes of Unbound’s sponsorship program. The relationship can have a huge impact on both the sponsor and the sponsored friend.
Jacqueline Castiblanco Suarez, who was sponsored through Unbound from the time she was a young girl until she began a career in social work, established such a relationship with her sponsor, Janice from Kansas.
“The truth is that my sponsor Janice’s letters filled me with joy,” Jacqueline said. “The first time that I received a letter, I felt that I was important for someone.”
Karen Allemang, trip and volunteer manager for Unbound, on an awareness trip in Guatemala.
By Karen Allemang, trip and volunteer manager for Unbound
As concerns grow about the spread and potential effects of the Zika virus, some of our sponsors have asked whether Unbound will cancel any of our planned trips to the field. Many of these sponsors are traveling with Unbound on an awareness trip and are excited to meet their sponsored friend for the first time.
I am happy to say that we have no plans to cancel any of our upcoming trips.
As part of our standard procedures, the awareness trip coordinators and I monitor current events that could impact travelers. Here is some of the key information we are reading from the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding Zika virus:
“Until more is known, CDC recommends special precautions for pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant.”
“Pregnant women (should) consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.” Read more.
A WHO committee advised on Feb. 1, 2016, “The Committee found no public health justification for restrictions on travel or trade to prevent the spread of Zika virus. At present, the most important protective measures are the control of mosquito populations and the prevention of mosquito bites in at-risk individuals, especially pregnant women.”
Regardless of what is or isn’t making headlines, we urge all our travelers to read the CDC’s Traveler’s Health page and speak with a medical professional regarding travel and their health. We provide information useful for that conversation such as the elevation of the areas they’ll visit and whether or not the lodging is air conditioned. We also require pregnant travelers to obtain medical clearance from their doctor in order to travel with us.
Many illnesses can be avoided by preventing mosquito bites. We refer travelers to the CDC’s Mosquito Bite Prevention PDF for guidance on preventing mosquito bites. A favorite prevention method of our team is using Permethrin to treat clothing as directed by the CDC.
Meeting Antonio, you just know he’ll have something interesting to say.
At 74 years old, Antonio has been sponsored through Unbound’s program in Mexico for 10 years. Tending to his garden and raising chickens are some of his hobbies. He has a lot of life experience and leans toward the simple life. And that’s something many of us could learn from him.
Antonio grew up working in the fields and raising cattle. He never learned to read or write but speaks two languages, Mayan and Spanish. And although he lost his eyesight many years ago and now needs assistance getting around, Antonio continues to work alongside his wife, Leonida, as they harvest corn.
Antonio has graciously shared some of his wisdom with the Unbound staff so we could pass it on to you.
We’re excited to embark on our second annual blogger trip next week, and we hope you’ll follow along.
Five extraordinary bloggers and social media specialists will travel with Unbound to Guatemala where they’ll meet children, families and elders in the Unbound program. The bloggers will post stories and photos about their experiences on their blogs and social networks.
Want to help spread the word? You can follow the journey and share their stories on your own social media channels. Maybe you know someone who will be moved to sponsor a child!
This stack of letters was written by Kansas City-area middle school students to Unbound sponsored youth waiting for new sponsors.
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.
From left: Florencia, her daughters Carina and Mikaela and her son Giancarlo, center.
Florencia used to beg her husband for enough change to purchase a small amount of vegetable so she could make soup for her children.
“Most of the time, I just prepared it with water and very few vegetables,” Florencia said.
Florencia is the mother of four children, two of whom are sponsored through Unbound in Bolivia. Florencia participates in the Unbound urban agriculture program in her area, which means begging for spare change is no longer part of Florencia’s routine.