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Experience the ongoing work of Unbound - stories of transformation, opportunity and empowerment.

Join the adventure with bloggers and journalists as they enter the homes of sponsored friends and share powerful stories, photos and videos from the field.

Become part of the Unbound story by following our first blogger trip!

Follow our trip on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook: Search the hashtag #BlogUnbound.

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Featured posts

Ali and Josefa

10 Amazing People I Met In El Salvador

Ali Ebright

I think of my sponsored friend, Josefa, in the morning when I drink my morning coffee from the matching mug I gave her. I think of women like Blanca Estela, who work hard in the El Salvadoran fields each day actually growing and harvesting coffee.

Rachel with elderly women from El Salvador

Back from El Salvador

Rachel Balducci

I was honored and humbled to be invited into the homes (some of which are structures of mud and metal) to meet the families affected by deep poverty — but who, in their hopes and efforts to offer their children more than this life, are being supported by a donation through Unbound. And of course, I was changed through my trip more than I had dreamed. That’s how these things always seem to go. I went with an idea of what I would find, and left with a different world view entirely.

Irma from El Salvador

How Irma Got Her Groove Back

Rachel Balducci

It was a hard time for the family, almost unthinkable for us in our First World mentality. Who leaves their family like that? How could you do that? But that is the life of extreme poverty, and of trying to provide. You do the unthinkable, which Irma did for as long as she could.

Little girl from El Salvador

Unbound Sponsorship: Lifting the Pebbles

Paula Kiger

Christopher and Silvia are like the Hopi’s pebble … it is going to take more than one “finger” to lift them. They need their families; they need (and have) a God who loves them. Ultimately, they need someone to help lift them through the support of sponsorship.

Marty and family from El Salvador

Mothers Groups Help Support Families, Communities

Marty Denzer

“We have received so many blessings from Unbound,” Marlena said. “Because Wendy is sponsored, I was able to join the mothers group, and we have learned so much. The 3-month savings program helped us fix a leaky roof, pay to make the house a little bigger, and helped us buy plastic chairs and a chest with drawers for our clothes.”

Delmy from El Salvador

Unbound Sponsorship Teaches Responsibility and Caring

Marty Denzer

Besides transportation, Delmy faces other challenges to completing her education. The biggest challenge is that she doesn’t have a computer or the Internet at home, which causes problems when her teachers want homework or papers emailed.

Family from El Salvador

Life Near a Cemetery, With Chickens

Marty Denzer

One dream shared by Carlos and Faustina came true last year. The family lived in a hut built of spare pieces of wood and laced tree branches.

Family in El Salvador

Building Strong Salvadoran Families, Communities and Individuals

Marty Denzer

More than half the population is Catholic and more than half are intimately acquainted with poverty. I don’t mean not being able to afford that new iPhone or take a vacation. Real poverty: living on less than $10 per day, with three or more children to feed, clothe, keep healthy and, hopefully, educateAnd yet, there is joy and a drive to learn, a purpose to life. There is hope. Parents have dreams for their children, the children dream of their futures and of helping their parents.

Mother and Daughter from El Salvador

Finding hope in El Salvador

Kristin Littrell

You'll see quickly that these women aren't interested in a handout. They're working hard to build a path out of poverty, and Unbound is much-trusted partner in that process. More specifically, their child's sponsor is a partner in that process.

Rachel

Heading Home

Rachel Balducci

I met women this week who live in some of the hardest circumstances imaginable. Oh sure they could be homeless. They are four sheets of metal away from that. But that’s not what I saw when I met these women. I didn’t think “oh poor thing look how hard her life is.” I saw, “Oh my gosh look at what she does with what she has been given.”

Family from El Salvador

Processing El Salvador: How this trip was different

Kristin Littrell

I’ve heard it said before that once you’ve seen extreme poverty -- corrugated metal sheet homes with dirt floors and open flame cooking… families of four or six or more sharing one room that’s smaller than my living room… flies everywhere… two very small meals a day at best… open latrines (hole-in-the-ground bathrooms)… -- that once you’ve seen all of this once, it’s not so shocking when you see it again. And I think that’s true.

Ali

Igniting Communities

Paula Kiger

As a result of the challenges faced by the families served by Unbound, the process of preparing to cook and then actually cooking the family’s food can be arduous. Imagine having to scavenge outdoors for wood in order to provide for your family.

Ali

10 Things I Learned in El Salvador

Ali Ebright

There is something so important, something holy, in telling each other our stories. Unbound clearly gets this, because they made visiting with people the focus of our trip. So instead of working on a building project together, or meeting exclusively with the staff, we literally spent our days meeting and sitting with the local people in their homes, listening to their stories and asking questions and talking for hours.

Irma with her family

The Mother on the Hill

Rachel Balducci

We went further into the mountains the next day, climbing high into Coffee Land. I looked out the window to see the very top of a mountain across the valley and realized we were exactly as high. At one point I noticed an entire neighborhood built into the side of a mountain. There, carved out on the side of the steep backdrop, were those same metal and concrete structures, wedged in tightly next to each other and into the land. “Look at that!” I told Karla, seated next to me in the van. “People live there!”

Bloggers team

Day 5: Bloggers witness realities of El Salvador

Victoria Brown

Victoria and the other writers on Unbound's first blogger trip to El Salvador share their thoughts from the week's adventure.

Javier

Helping Javier Stay On Track With Sponsorship

Paula Kiger

Editor’s note: Good news, Javier has a sponsor! If you’d like to sponsor a different child click here.

After I met Javier, as I was preparing to write his story, I couldn’t stop thinking about my son’s early childhood, when he was so obsessed with firefighters. Javier is 8 years old. His favorite color is yellow, his favorite subject in school is “lenguaje” (languages), and he (along with his brother Josue) plays soccer (futbol to him) on a team called “Guzman.” He also has a mom (Silvia) who desperately wants Javier to be able to stay in school, stay healthy, and keep his dreams alive.

Ana Teresa

Day 4: Living with strength and grace

Kristin Littrell

Ana Teresa is a single mom of four kids — her husband died in a traffic accident six years ago. Her life is challenging, but she lives it with strength and grace. Despite challenges, Ana Teresa tells her children to work hard. "With the help of God, and your sponsors, we can do this. We can get through this. Let’s keep going and get ahead,” she said.

Rachel and Ali

In Which I Throw Caution to the Wind and Eat a Fried Green Tomato

Rachel Balducci

There were seven of us sitting around the table in her open-air dining room, eating rice with red sauce and this “tomato”…

Victoria with Sonia

Day 3: Finances, friendship and fascination

Victoria Brown

It’s 11 p.m., and I’m sitting alone in the Unbound communications office in Santa Ana, El Salvador, typing away as bugs crawl and fly around me. I procrastinated on this post all evening because I couldn’t stop thinking about my visit with Sonia.

Rachel with Olga

Olga and the Mother's Group

Rachel Balducci

Today’s mission was to meet women who had joined together to make life better. Many of these women, before banding together, could not imagine leading a group, much less standing in front of other people sharing their story. But this solidarity gives them strength. After meeting with the larger group, I headed next door with Olga, one of the group leaders. What I saw today contrasted in so many ways from yesterday.

Kristin with Josselyn

Day 2: Meeting Josselyn

Kristin Littrell

In a humble home of sheet metal, surrounded by the smell of cooking fires, I met my new sponsored friend, Josselyn. When I opened her folder, I couldn’t believe what I saw.

Rachel with family from El Salvador

Morena's Story

Rachel Balducci

On the shelf above her bed, Morena displays pictures and trinkets. Among them is a message given to her this Mother’s Day by her oldest son. “Mother,” reads the card, “your presence in the lives of your sons and daughter is a blessing.”

Rain

First Full Day in Santa Ana

Rachel Balducci

It was somewhere between giddy excitement and absolute dread that I climbed out of the van and stepped into the mud. The rain poured all night and into the morning and we headed out from our retreat center in the torrents. We were going to visit people who lived in huts (at best) and I had no idea what to expect.

Bloggers

Day 1: Adventures ahead for a one-of-a-kind blogger trip

Victoria Brown

This trip is no ordinary blogger trip. Just like the Unbound program provides personalized benefits for each sponsored friend’s specific needs, each writer has a personalized itinerary for the week.

Meet the team

Bloggers

Paula

Paula Kiger

Paula is a "wife of one, mom of two, friend of many." She lives in Tallahassee, FL, where she spent almost 20 years as an administrator for a non-profit that provides health insurance to uninsured children. She loves writing, running, and acting in films at the Florida State University Film School. Paula enjoys participating in many communities on social media, including RunChat, FitFluential, and ShotAtLife (which advocates for global health through vaccination in developing countries). She has sponsored through Unbound for many years and finds great joy in her relationship with her family’s sponsored children.

Blog: http://biggreenpen.com/
Twitter: biggreenpen
Instagram: biggreenpen

Ali

Ali Ebright

Ali Ebright is the creator of the popular food blog, Gimme Some Oven, where she is all about celebrating delicious, simple, and creative recipes and the joy of sharing them with those you love. She is also a professional food photographer, stylist, and recipe developer, and enjoys dabbling in lifestyle writing occasionally as well. When she’s not blogging, Ali digs all things music, traveling near and far, getting crafty, book clubbing, and spending time with a wonderful group of friends.

Blog: http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/
Twitter: gimmesomeoven
Instagram: gimmesomeoven
Pinterest: gimmesomeoven
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GimmeSomeOvenBlog

Rachel

Rachel Balducci

Rachel Balducci is first and foremost a wife and mother -- she and her husband Paul are the proud parents of five lively boys and one precious daughter. Rachel is a newspaper columnist for the Southern Cross and writes online at her personal blog, Testosterhome.net. She is a co-host of The Gist, a talk show for women on Catholic TV and the author of How Do You Tuck In A Superhero and other delightful mysteries of raising boys. In a former life, Rachel was a newspaper reporter, and she has a Masters in Journalism from the University of Georgia. These days she writes about the intersection of faith and family as she tries to figure out how keeping her bathroom clean will help make her a saint.

Blog: http://testosterhome.net/
Twitter: rachelbalducci
Instagram: rachelbalducci
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/testosterhome


Journalist

Marty

Marty Denzer

Marty is a reporter for The Catholic Key newspaper in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. She covers events and writes stories about people. In 13 years she has interviewed priests, religious, children, the elderly (one lady was 105), lawyers, teachers, inmates on death row, farmers, politicians, trafficking victims, ambassadors, writers and moms and dads. She is married with three adult children, 2 dogs, 2 cats and about 6 fish.

http://catholickey.org/


Team Leaders

Kristin

Kristin Littrell

Kristin joined Unbound in 2007 and worked in communications for several years. A highlight of her time was a trip to Guatemala to see our work first-hand, where she met a mother (of a sponsored child) who continues to inspire her to this day: Isabel. Kristin now works with Unbound as a freelance writer, scratching out blog posts and web stories during her two daughters’ preschool and naptime. Writing about the heroic mothers of sponsored children motivates her daily. Kristin looks forward to co-leading the first Unbound blogger trip, and will also write about the experience on her personal blog.

Blog: www.jacobandkristin.blogspot.com
Twitter: k_littrell

Victoria

Victoria Brown

Victoria is the social media coordinator at Unbound. She joined Unbound in 2013, after working in TV newsrooms for several years. Growing up with 12 brothers and sisters in the Chicagoland, she loves to share stories. She helps share the stories of Unbound sponsored friends and sponsors on the Unbound social media channels. She lives in Kansas City with her husband and four dogs. Victoria is very excited to co-lead the first Unbound blogger trip.

Twitter: vickitbrown
Instagram: vickitbrown

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