Space to Study

A look into the educational barriers faced by students in poverty and the study habits, spaces they adopt to overcome the challenges

August 15, 2022 | Be Informed


For children and youth living in poverty, too often education is a luxury. Recognizing that access to a good education is one of the keys to lifting oneself out of poverty, Unbound sponsored families often have education high on their list of priority goals.

Around the world, though children and youth depict their commitment to education in similar ways, students in poverty experience environments that often create greater barriers to learning.

Through child sponsorship and Unbound’s Scholarship Program, children and youth in poverty have the opportunity to realize their dream of an education, growing in confidence in their potential and, someday, finding career opportunities that cement their path (and even that of their entire family’s) out of poverty.

Here is a peek into the study habits, spaces and academic achievements of children, youth and scholarship students living in poverty around the globe, including the individual challenges they confront on a regular basis in order to obtain an education.


In India, Nisha (right) and brother Rajeev, siblings of sponsored youth Chandani, complete their homework in a room of the family’s house, the walls of which are made of mud. Before Chandani was sponsored, the family sometimes only had one meal a day and could not afford to keep the children in school.

While attending Unbound mothers group meetings, the children’s mother, Anita, learned about loans and how to save money and, inspired by other mothers in the group, started a business. With the success of her business and Chandani’s sponsorship, the children have been able to return to school.


Twenty-two-year-old Unbound scholarship recipient Erika completes her homework via her desktop at her home in the Philippines. Despite having unreliable internet to connect to her virtual classes during COVID-19, she is preparing to graduate with a degree in drafting technology, with plans to teach at the college level one day. She calls her scholarship a “blessing” and credits her sponsors for motivating her to persevere in her studies.


In Nairobi, the Ongata Ronkai Primary School is the only government school taking care of the community’s students with developmental disabilities, who are often thought of as “forgotten” and “voiceless.” An Unbound mothers group recognized their potential.

Using an Unbound Agents of Change grant, they purchased sewing machines for the school so that the students might learn skills such as beadwork, sewing and molding, skills that might benefit them one day in the workforce. Since that time, many of the students have already mastered sewing and, in the future, will begin learning to make full garments, such as school uniforms.

The oldest of four siblings, Peter, 14, struggled with his homework assignments from the school he attended in Kenya before becoming a sponsored child. With help from his sponsorship, Peter is now attending a better school where he feels more supported. With sponsorship, his mother was also able to buy gas that allows her to cook her children a nutritious breakfast in the mornings before school, and she was able to purchase a new bed for Peter. Peter dreams of one day being a pilot.

In her family’s rented house in Guatemala, 9-year-old sponsored child Yeimy completes her homework. The family of six occupies one crowded room of the three-bedroom house they share with Yeimy’s two aunts. Her parents’ greatest dream has been to have their own home.

With help from Unbound’s Critical Needs Fund, the family has been able to purchase their own plot of land and begin building their home — a two-story house with space for Yeimy’s mother’s cosmetics and cooking business on the first floor. Through Yeimy’s sponsorship and income generated from her mother’s small business, the family was able to buy a tablet to ensure Yeimy could complete her virtual classes.


In Guatemala, Unbound sponsored youth Hector completes his homework by the light of a single candle, as his family does not have the resources for electricity. The family’s home is a two-room house made of wood and sheets, and Hector shares a bed with his younger brother.

The son of a land tiller for coffee plantations, Hector was born with a deformity in his left foot that makes it difficult for him to get to and from school. After undergoing surgery to remove his foot, Unbound helped him acquire a prosthetic leg, which enables him to get around better. His dream is to attend a university to one day be a teacher.

Thanks to Unbound, [all of my children] have been able to continue with their studies. I am deeply grateful for the sponsors for all the sacrifices they do for our family because without expecting anything, they give us everything.

— Catarina, Mother of sponsored child Yeimy, Guatemala