Sponsored students tackle virtual learning

Unbound scholar María works to complete her final year of college from her grandmother’s kitchen table near Merida, Mexico.

At 24 years old, María was in her last year of college when the pandemic began to impact Merida, Mexico, forcing her to uproot and move back into her grandmother’s home an hour away.

Having been raised by her grandmother most of her life, María chose to study gerontology. She hopes to use her degree to provide a better quality of life to elders in her community.

“Gerontology is the study of aging; we look for ways we can help the elderly enjoy this stage of their lives,” María said. “I decided to study gerontology because I have a clear example right here [in my grandmother]. I owe my life to this lady.”

María says that studying virtually has been a challenge. She and her grandmother never had access to the internet in their home, but recently had to get it installed for her to complete her last year of education.

“We have never had internet because it was not necessary for us,” she said. “When I was in Merida, I had my own room and I had things for my classes, but if we talk about where we are now, I am in the kitchen because this house has no room.”

As she tries to adjust to her new studying conditions, María remains focused on her ultimate goal.

“My goal is to finish my university with good grades, and this is something I never lose sight of; I do not forget it,” she said. “Even with the current situation, I know that nothing comes easy, and I must work hard for this.”

María was raised by her grandmother and has been sponsored through Unbound for 17 years. She is also the recipient of an Unbound scholarship.

Lacking resources

Lidia sits with her daughter Ana, 11, in their home in Medellín, Colombia. Lidia says that Ana is sharing a cell phone with her two brothers to complete their schoolwork at home during COVID-19.

In Medellín, Colombia, 11-year-old Ana shares her mom’s cell phone with her two brothers, Juan, 15, and Cristian, 14, to complete their schoolwork. With three kids learning virtually and no laptops, the mom, Lidia, says that many times her children are up late trying to catch up on the day’s lessons.

My children suffer because they don't have anything to study with. We often stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning doing the tasks they have to do.


A single mother of six kids, Lidia lost her job as a home aide because of the pandemic. She says the benefits provided through Ana’s Unbound sponsorship are helping more now than ever with food for her family.

“To be honest, sometimes there is food but sometimes there isn't, and I'm very worried about that,” she said. “When they are at school, they are more entertained and have a good diet.”


Seeking a path forward

In Tahmek, Mexico, 17-year-old Naydeline depends on a cell phone to take her online classes as she prepares to start applying to universities. Each day, she purchases 2 hours of data for her phone to complete her work. She says it’s difficult to take classes this way because of unstable internet connections and the price to access the internet. After she completes her courses for the day, she helps her mother with their new face-mask business.

“We are having economic problems, but we are looking for the way to move forward,” Naydeline said. “I have to do an admission test to be able to enter in a public university, but it’s been delayed due to COVID-19.”

Naydeline’s mother, Raquel, started making face masks to keep the hope of her daughter attending university alive.

“It is difficult because everything requires money,” Raquel said. “Now with the problem we have [the virus], I am making face masks and I am seeing how to get ahead.”

Naydeline plans to pursue law once accepted into university.

Naydeline’s mother, Raquel, sews facemasks to sell during the pandemic. She started the business to help keep her daughter’s dreams of attending university alive.

About Unbound’s scholarship program

In 2019, Unbound awarded $3.9 million in scholarships to more than 9,000 students across Latin America, Asia and Africa. Unbound scholarships help fill critical gaps for students seeking resources to cover tuition, transportation, books and school fees. Visit: unbound.org/scholarship to learn more about the 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.