During Lent, we focus on three areas – prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Today I want to share with you about one of the our favorite charities that we support through our almsgiving.
Unbound, formerly known as CFCA (Christian Foundation for Children and Aging,) began in 1981. Unbound has a beautiful history that started with three, brothers, a sister and a best friend.
The vision for Unbound began with Bob, Bud and Jim Hentzen, their sister Nadine Hentzen Pearce and their friend Jerry Tolle. Bob and Jerry were former missionaries who, while working in Latin America, witnessed the devastating effects of poverty on families struggling heroically to make better lives for their children. Guided by faith and rooted in Catholic social teaching, the founders envisioned a program that would invite people to partner with families to support, encourage and empower them.
Read more here.
Our family first learned about Unbound in 2011 from friends of ours that was sponsoring a child. I liked the fact that the program not only helped one child but their whole family and offered ongoing support for them to grow and better their lives. Unbound believes the following:
Poverty isn’t just about lack of money — it’s about lack of choices. We’ve found that families make good choices when they have support and encouragement. They invest in the education of their children. They develop livelihoods and become active community participants in the spirit of true sustainability. We work with families at the grassroots level with local staff. Our social workers visit the homes of the families and listen to their needs. They work with children to set education goals. They visit the elderly. They bring families together in small groups to support one another and improve their community.
I was impressed by the work that Unbound does and the percentage of funds that goes to the program vs the administration. I also liked the fact that we’d be able to write to our sponsored child and keep in touch with them through the program. (However, your personal info is kept confidential.) I talked to Brian and made sure the cost fit into our tithing budget and when it did , we prayed to the Holy Spirit to help us chose a child to sponsor.
Since we have so many boys in the house I thought it would be nice to sponsor a girl that Bella could write to as well. We chose the country of Mexico (since mi familia is Hispanic), and I picked a couple of cute little girls in need of help. Bella was ten years old at the time and I let her look over the profiles and pick the one we should sponsor. Of all the smiling faces and cute grins Bella chose a girl close to her age that looked more serious. Her name was Abigal, or as her friends liked to call her, Abi.
We took Abi’s photo and placed it on our home prayer table as a reminder to pray for her each day.
In our first letter from Abi, she tells us about her life and her family, but it is the closing paragraph that brought a tear to my eyes. The translation reads:
“I promise I will make a big effort in the school so that you become proud of me. I will pray every day for you from now on so that God takes care of you and pours blessings upon you wherever you are. I have to close for now. I love you. Your sponsored friend, Abigal”
As the years pass, Abi gets older and she shares with us news of her family – her mom, grandmother and uncles. We in turn share about our lives. This is one of my favorite letters from her.
Warm greetings to you and your family because you are helping me. Thank you! I love you very much and I pray for you everyday so that you may be healthy and you may always have a job and daily bread. I have the pictures of you next to my Virgin of Guadalupe so that she can take care of you wherever you are and she may cover you with her mantle.
I had a great time at Christmas because at the Foundation all the moms organized games for us so we could have fun and we could meet other sponsored children. My mom participated in the games. They gave us something to eat, gave us gifts, clothes and a small bag of candy. All this is possible thanks to you who give us our financial support. On the other hand, I would like to tell you that my mom and grandparents are very happy because you are helping me and they say that you are part of our family now.
Let me tell you too, that I am going to receive my First Communion. My grandmother goes to the handcrafts workshops that they give at the Foundation because they teach me how to make bracelets, necklaces, earrings and now they are making rosaries. My grandmother is teaching me how to make a rosary.
I am saying good bye and letting you know that I pray to God so that He may take care of you. I wish that with all of my heart. May He bless you wherever you are!
I was so touched by her words and how our money was not only helping Abi but her mom and and extended family. It was having a positive effect on them and their community. As years passed, we continued to share about our lives in letters. When Brian was sick with cancer, Abi’s mom and grandmother were especially praying for him and placing him in the protection of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This little girl touched my heart and it was a joy to watch her grow and do well in her schooling from a little eight year old to a teenager.
Abi over the years and with her mom and grandmother. We finally see her smile. ?
We spent the last five years getting to know Abi and her family. Unfortunately, it had to come to an end. The Unbound program in her area had to close due to its remote location, the challenges of providing adequate supervision and support and the risks to the staff presented by the growing violence in the region. We are sad that we can no longer support Abi financially, but we continue to pray for her and her family every night.
I her last letter she wrote:
I write these lines to thank you for all your support during these years. You chose me among many. Your support was useful in my life. Thanks a million for caring about us! I also pray to God and the Virgin and I will make an effort to get ahead. My studies helped me to learn to share my things and to be a better person. My family is proud of you. I have to say goodbye but I thank you for the support you gave me five years ago. It was a foundation that helped me a lot. Love, Abi
Our chapter with Abi has closed, but she will always have a special place in my heart.
We wanted to continue to support Unbound and their work, so we decided to choose another child to sponsor. This time I let the boys choose. I picked out a few boys from various regions, and we looked at their profiles.
They finally decided on Kevin Andres from Columbia. His profile states that he is an active five year old boy living with his parents and two sisters. He likes to explore and play with his friends and toys.
We just received our first letter from Kevin’s father who says:
I greet you very affectionately wishing that when you receive this letter you are well of health and being.
I am Bernardo, Kevin’s father. I am writing this letter because Kevin is only 5 years old and he will begin school in January, God willing. Kevin is very affectionate. He likes to sing very much and to play with his toys. He is very intelligent and likes to ask many questions. He has a dog that he loves very much. Kevin does much and he does it heartily. Kevin lives in a rented house with his mother, his father and his two sisters who are 12 and 14.
I heartily thank you for having sponsored Kevin now that he needs it. Many, many thanks and God will bless you always. Cordially, Bernardo.
We look forward to our new adventure with Kevin. We pray he is blessed by Unbound just as Abi was.
For information about how you and your family can sponsor a child in need, visit Unbound.
Written by Bobbi Rol. Find out more about her here.