Our work in Colombia
A diverse country, united by hope
Colombia features magnificent contrasts: rugged mountains, high plateaus, deep valleys, and vast expanses of lowland tropical forests and grasslands.
But amid this beauty, Colombia continues to struggle against guerilla warfare, city gangs and illicit drug cartels.
Against this backdrop of violence and beauty, the sponsorship of children, youth and aging friends living in poverty began in 1982.
A focus of the five Colombian projects is educating children to provide employment opportunities and keep them off the streets, away from gangs and crime. Programs that support education include tutoring, reading clubs, nutritional lunches and more. Project staff members also visit the schools that sponsored members attend.
Mothers groups empower women
Unbound projects in Colombia have formed mothers groups as a way to empower mothers of sponsored children. The groups encourage mothers to be active, responsible participants in the sponsorship program.
Sandra, mother of two children sponsored through Unbound, is president of the "Explorers of the Future" group of 20 mothers.
They meet biweekly to talk about their lives, receive formation and guidance from the Bogota staff and learn about activities for the year.
The group has given Sandra a greater sense of belonging and space to solve problems. She is passing on this sense of empowerment to her children.
"My children will learn that as humans, we can fall down sometimes, but there will always be someone with us to support us such as Unbound or the mothers in our group," she said.
Committed to education
When you sponsor a child in Colombia, you enable families to send their children to school, securing an education that will help build a path out of poverty. Often children overcome tremendous obstacles to obtain an education.
Diego is a sponsored child who lives near Bogota. Sponsorship helps his family afford school tuition and supplies, but Diego still had to walk an hour and a half – one way – to school. Every morning he rose at 4:30 a.m. to dress and begin his journey.
When Unbound staffers in Bogota learned of Diego's long walk, they purchased a bicycle for Diego.
"Having a bicycle to me was a very difficult dream to reach," Diego said. "My family does not have the resources to buy a bicycle for me.
Now, I am glad because I can save time and a lot of energy to get better grades at school."
Many cultures, one Unbound community
Unbound works with families in both rural and urban settings in Colombia. Often one project will encompass many diverse areas and groups of people.
This can present challenges for Unbound staffers as they adapt programs to the needs of families living in different environments – from rural farming communities to urban neighborhoods. Community structures, expectations and lifestyles differ greatly, and the sponsorship program must function uniquely in each community.
Unbound staffs continue to talk with families, learning from them and growing in understanding of how to partner with them as they seek to build a better life.