Building strong communities
Wedged between Honduras and Guatemala, El Salvador is the smallest, most densely populated country in Central America. The country has spent more than 20 years healing divisions caused by a 12-year civil war.
Families living in poverty face challenges keeping up with a rapidly industrializing society. Because of a lack of opportunities, many youth are attracted to gangs, who terrorize neighborhoods with crime and violence.
Unbound's sponsorship program, operating through the Santa Ana project, works to strengthen family and community bonds. Program activities offer constructive outlets for youth, livelihood opportunities for families and a forum for neighbors to build trust and work together.
Sponsored friends receive education and nutrition assistance, access to health and dental care, and more.
Mothers groups empower women and families
Mothers groups are community self-help groups that offer mothers of sponsored children an opportunity to organize and participate in the planning and decision-making surrounding Unbound benefits and activities.
Isabel is a single mom with four daughters, two of them sponsored through Unbound. Coffee picking is her only livelihood. Isabel’s participation in the mothers group has boosted her self-confidence and helped transform her from a timid woman to someone who is not afraid to speak up.
“Thanks to the generous heart of [my daughters’] sponsors, we can improve our lives,” Isabel said.
Unbound helps youth overcome pressure
In some parts of El Salvador, crime is a big problem. Gangs try to convince youth that crime can provide a better life with little effort.
Santa Ana Project Coordinator Yessenia Alfaro said the moral support of sponsorship helps youth resist the lure of crime and gangs.
Alfaro and her staff try to stay close to the youth and emphasize good communication between parents and children. Workshops teach mothers how to develop healthy channels of communication when their children are young.
Unbound promotes values of respect, dignity, mutual support, solidarity, sharing and family. Strong values help minimize the sense of discouragement families feel when faced with the enormous pressure of gangs and crime. Unbound works to motivate families to believe in themselves and their abilities.
Educational support helps meet family needs
For families in poverty, education offers hope for change. Sponsorship helps families afford uniforms, books, supplies and registration when children are young. As children enter high school and college, education costs increase and become more complex. Unbound scholarships help older students bear these increased costs.
An Unbound scholarship helps 20-year-old Venancia offset the cost of tuition, transportation, school, books and supplies as she pursues an English degree. It also helps Venancia pay for computer time. She learned to use a computer when helping at the Unbound office to fulfill her service requirement.
In today’s educational environment, computers are necessities, but families in poverty can’t afford them. This puts children at a disadvantage.
To help close the technology gap, Unbound-El Salvador contracted with local technical schools to offer computer classes to sponsored students ages 13 to 20.
Families can choose computer classes from an array of benefits the program offers. Edwin, 17, is a sponsored child who benefited from these classes.