Raising a family is never easy. That’s true no matter where a person lives or what their economic situation is like. But for families with limited resources living in places where conditions make it difficult to rise out of poverty, their day-to-day struggle to overcome barriers can be especially heroic.
Unbound International Program Director Pritha Hariharan said the empowering approach Unbound takes in working with families allows them the space to forge their own paths out of poverty.
“Each family entering the program sets individual, personalized goals,” she said. “The support provided by the sponsor helps them reach those goals. Our model is unique in many ways, and one of them is how families living in poverty become agents of change in their own development.”
Clockwise from upper left, Veronica, Karen, their mother, Francisca, and father, Daniel, share a moment at their home in El Salvador. Both girls are in university studying for degrees in marketing.
sisters sharing a dream
Karen, 22, and her sister Veronica, 20, live in El Salvador with their parents. Both are sponsored through Unbound.
Their mother, Francisca, operates a small store out of their home. Daniel, their father, spent most of his life as a carpenter, but is now unable to work because of a health condition. The treatment his illness requires creates the kind of added expenses that could be catastrophic for a family with limited means.
Karen and Veronica have been able to stay in school with the support of their sponsors and the Unbound scholarship each has earned. They are now in university pursuing their common dream of earning marketing degrees.
“I think that both of us have thought the same about having our own business,” Karen said. “Maybe being a manager or the one who is in charge of [customer] relations in a company. We have [also] thought about a boutique of clothes and shoes.”
Francisca and Daniel are grateful to the sponsors (Ann from South Carolina for Karen and the Esposito family in Pennsylvania for Veronica), whose investment in their daughters’ lives have helped make that possible.
From left, Gary Boy gathers with his father, Alfredo; mother, Imelda; sister, Princess; and younger brother Don (front), on their farm in the Philippines. Now in college, Gary Boy wants to become an advocate for Filipino farmers.
honoring his heritage
Gary Boy, 22, is another university student. He lives in the Philippines where he’s studying for a degree in communications. He has participated in the Unbound program since second grade.
A member of a multi-generational farming family, staying close to his heritage is important to Gary Boy.
“I want to be the voice of farmers,” he said, “most especially now that there are a lot of issues, like those farmers who are bankrupted because the price of rice grains was too low for them to sell here in the Philippines.”
Shy as a child, Gary Boy blossomed through his interaction with other young people in social and recreational programs offered locally through Unbound.
Gary Boy is grateful for the support he’s received over the years and is determined to see it through until his goals are met. “I will assure you that I will continue my studies even if our life is poor,” he said. “I will graduate from college.”
Sarah (left) and her husband, Moses, proudly display the water tank they've installed on their land in real Kenya. They were able to purchase the tank, which holds enough water for three months, with some of the sponsorship fund of their son, Mutume.
working together for a solution
Moses and his family live in a rural village outside Meru, Kenya. His son, Mutume, 17, is sponsored through Unbound. Like many subsistence farmers, Moses has been severely affected by the drought that’s plagued the area for several years.
“We have not seen rain in a very long time,” he said. “The amount of rain we received this season was so minimal that no food stuffs grew up, including grass for goats and cattle.”
Living more than 4 miles from the nearest river, acquiring even small amounts of water for daily needs has been a challenge. But the family is meeting that challenge with resources from Mutume’s Unbound sponsorship.
Unbound works with families to form plans to meet their specific needs. Moses and his family were able to invest some of Mutume’s benefit money into purchasing a water storage tank. When the tank is filled, it provides about enough water for the family for about three months.
Moses has gratitude for his son’s sponsor and encouragement for others.
“For those contemplating sponsoring, I welcome them,” he said. “Our needs are many and are big.”
Each of these stories, in its own way, speaks of the resolve of families and the wisdom of trusting them to create their own solutions. Hariharan regularly sees that resolve bear fruit.