Love In A Letter

How letters from their sponsors changed the lives of 4 sponsored individuals and their families

February 09, 2023 | Be Inspired

The Linguistic Society of America estimates that words have been around for at least as long as modern humans, developed 50,000 to 150,000 years ago.

Since that time, humans have wielded words to drive change, both good and bad, on a local scale and on a global one. Words have been weapons and the beginnings of wars. They can bring leaders together and force nations apart. Words have started love stories and ended them.

Whether spoken aloud, whispered, signed or written, words can be a window to our souls, capable of communicating our strengths while revealing our vulnerabilities, of foreshadowing our hopelessness while breathing life into our potential.

Words give us humanity; words show us humanity.

There’s power in words. Throughout Unbound’s more than 40 years of walking alongside the poor and marginalized of the world, nowhere is this fact more obvious than in the lives of sponsored children and families when they receive a letter from their sponsor.

Individuals in poverty often feel invisible to the rest of society, as part of the faceless mass called “the poor.” Children growing up in poverty, according to Unbound’s director of international programs, Dan Pearson, can especially feel invisible.

“The impact [of receiving a letter] is different for each person, but for many children, it is hard to overestimate the potential impact of feeling seen for the first time in your life,” Pearson said.

Yet 36% of all sponsored children within Unbound’s programs never receive a single letter from their sponsor. Though communicating with a sponsored friend is not a requirement of sponsorship, it can be a powerful added benefit.

Because sometimes the path to rising above poverty begins with the words “I believe in you” from a stranger on the other side of the world.

Here are several sponsored friends and families who were motivated to keep moving forward by the love they felt in a letter from their sponsor.


The mother of a sponsored adult in the Dominican Republic proudly shows Unbound staff the handwritten letters, postcards and photos her daughter has received from her sponsors over almost 15 years of sponsorship. Having communication with their sponsor is a common point of pride for many sponsored individuals and their families within Unbound.

rica's motivation

Twenty-two-year-old Rica from Unbound’s Legazpi Program in the Philippines has had four different sponsors throughout her 12 years of sponsorship.

A college student studying civil engineering, Rica’s determination to “be somebody” led her to win a first-place recognition at the World S!NERGY Competition. Her research project was on developing a charity offering technical vocational training for children with disabilities in her community.

Rica credits her second sponsor with helping motivate her and feeding her love of learning.

“Mary [her sponsor] always sent me books,” Rica said. “My love for books was because of [her].”

But she credits all her sponsors over the years with the greatest gift they have given her — the gift of believing in her. “Thank you for believing in me,” she said. “[They showed me] that even though I am little in the society, I can be somebody.”

Thank you to Unbound for finding this little girl so long ago and believing there is hope for her. [To my sponsors], thank you for sponsoring me but more than that, thank you for believing in me.

— Rica, Sponsored youth from the Philippines


Civil engineering student Rica showcases her award certificates from the World S!NERGY Competition (Students, Ideas and Energy) in the garden at her home in the Philippines. She credits much of her belief in her own abilities to the motivation she received from her sponsors over the years.

a family's confidante

In Anabela’s Unbound parent support group, she helps sponsored families in the Guatemala program write letters to their sponsors, as she values the relationship her family has with her 15-year-old daughter’s sponsor.

“I call her sponsor comadre (Godmother),” said Anabela, who appreciates that the sponsor expresses in her letters how much she cares about how they think and feel. "[She] wants to know that we are happy."

When Anabela’s daughter Gregoria writes back to her sponsor, Anabela tells her daughter that a letter “should go with a lot of desire for joy” so that her sponsor feels her motivation. Anabela believes her role as a sponsored mother is not just being one who receives, but also one who gives in return. She has also helped lead an Agents of Change project in her community to put up new walls at the local church and reinforce its entranceways to keep out thieves.

The love that Anabela's family feels for Gregoria’s sponsor is “very big,” and their sponsor has become their confidante from half a world away. They enjoy getting to know a little about her life through her letters to them, and hope that she comes to understand their lives in their letters back to her.

From the first correspondence that we received [8 years ago], she told me, ‘Right now, you are my comadre (Godmother).' And from that date on, I have told her that she is [also] my comadre.

— Anabela, mother of sponsored child Gregoria in Guatemala


At a table in their home in Guatemala, Anabela helps her daughter Gregoria write a letter to their sponsor. She encourages her daughter to “write with joy” so that their sponsor can feel the love they have for her and the impact her sponsorship has made on their lives. Sponsorship has provided financial support for Gregoria’s education and her health issues.

An education, a livelihood and new hope

Charles, father of sponsored child Ismael, remembers Christmas holidays in Kisumu, Kenya, when all he could do was watch other families give their children Christmas gifts while he had nothing to give to his eight children and one foster child.

But that all changed almost 10 years ago when Ismael, now 16, became sponsored. Through workshops at Unbound, Charles learned about investing and saving his money. He took a part of Ismael’s sponsorship funds and invested it into starting three different businesses. Today, Charles can meet the needs of his entire family, and Ismael has access to the kind of education his parents could only dream of — due, in great part, to his sponsor.

Ismael can attend a “national boys’ school” where Charles says he is “learning with the best.”

“I’m really thankful to Mr. John (Ismael’s sponsor) for his support and, mainly, for really encouraging [Ismael],” Charles said. “[He told him] not to get worried about his background, just work hard, and the hard times will pass.”

They’ve [the sponsors] really helped me by their [support], encouragement and, most of all, praying for us. Sometimes they say they’re praying for our success, and that means the world to us.

— Charles, Father of sponsored child Ismael in Kenya


With part of his son’s sponsorship funds for the last nine years, Charles started a family business in recycling fish products, selling firewood and iron sheets, and raising chickens. Sponsorship funds have also allowed him to buy his son a raised bed to sleep in, complete with mosquito nets, since he often contracted malaria before. Pictured, Charles stands in front of the drying fish skins rack at his business in the Obunga slum community in Kenya.

Erika joy's motivation

Last May, Erika Joy, 22, from the Philippines, graduated from college with a degree in drafting technology, something that she believes would not have been possible without the support of her sponsors.

The daughter of a widowed mother of eight children, Erika Joy was a dedicated Unbound scholarship recipient while still in school. Her most memorable experience with Unbound was learning how to prepare herself for a job interview and to make her resume, a skill that has since paid off for her. Erika Joy was hired as a rebar scheduler for a building information management company in the summer of 2022. Her communication with her sponsor served as her motivation during her educational journey.

I really appreciate their effort for me. Their communication has served as my motivation to persevere in my studies. I want to give back their help by studying well and being the best at what I do.

— Erika Joy, Former sponsored youth and scholarship recipient in the Philippines


A college graduate with a degree in drafting technology, Erika Joy found her passion for drawing as a result of being a part of Unbound. She said her involvement in the sponsorship and scholarship programs developed her emotionally, socially and spiritually. Pictured, Erika Joy holds up a prized photo and letter she received from her sponsors during her 13 years of sponsorship.

send love to a sponsored friend

While a sponsor’s financial gift is a great benefit to a sponsored individual and their family, it’s only part of the reason why Unbound sponsorship works. It’s important for sponsored individuals to know that their sponsor is a real person who also believes in them.

Send a sponsored friend your love in a letter. Learn more about how to write a letter or log in to your Unbound account to send a letter to your sponsored friend today.