Pandemic pushes elders further onto society’s margins

Elders in Unbound’s program in Guatemala receive facemasks made by Unbound scholars during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed elderly people in the developing world in a precarious situation. They are uniquely at risk, while at the same time the solution carries danger of its own.

Major world health institutions have documented that loneliness and isolation among elders can become a massive threat to their health. So how, at time when it’s vital to protect seniors through social distancing, are organizations that address the challenges of elders able to safely continue their work?

Unbound recently announced that it will continue to deliver sponsorship benefits to the elders in its programs through conditional cash transfers and direct services — such as medicine, food and clothing — organized by local Unbound staff. The nonprofit believes that now more than ever it’s important to continue to facilitate and maintain the relationships it has with the more than 30,000 elders in its programs around the world.

Thoughtful community building and a consistent flow of resources allows our teams on the ground to ensure that everyone is as prepared as they can be and no one gets left behind.

– Dan Pearson, director of international programs at Unbound

Since Unbound staff around the world are from the communities and regions they serve, Unbound finds them well-equipped to adapt to challenging local dynamics in order to make sure resources are still able to reach their destination. Many local staff are former sponsored children themselves.

Young people who have received scholarships from Unbound, and mothers of sponsored children in Unbound’s programs, both play important roles ensuring elders have what they need to survive the pandemic. In Guatemala, scholarship students made facemasks for elders in the area, and in Honduras, mothers rallied to get food to elders who are confined to their homes.

Unbound is the only major organization in the United States that also includes elders in its sponsorship program. The nonprofit connects adults 60 and older living in extreme poverty and isolation across 19 countries with sponsors in the United States.

Learn more information on Unbound’s elder program

How you can help in the pandemic

Your gift to the Disaster Response fund helps families most affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Cash transfers are made to the individual bank accounts where families receive their Unbound benefits. This gives families the most flexibility to address urgent needs while doing their part to stay healthy and keep their communities safe.