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A place to gather

Local volunteers work to repair a dilapidated pavilion in a rural area on the outskirts of Cali, Colombia. The pavilion is used as a community gathering place. The project was funded by a grant through Unbound’s Agents of Change initiative, which provides funds for improvements in communities where sponsored persons and their families live.

Community turns run-down structure into meeting place

When people in the U.S. hear the word "kiosk,” they likely think of a small stand or retail booth. But in Latin America, "kiosco" can also mean an outdoor pavilion. Thanks to their own initiative and an Agents of Change grant, for one community in Colombia that kind of kiosk has once again become a major gathering place.

The Unbound community in a rural area outside Cali, Colombia, needed a place for large gatherings. They’d been using the homes of leaders within the community, but those spaces were becoming increasingly inadequate for the Unbound mothers group, their children and sponsored elders. They also wanted a space that would serve the greater community, which totals around 500 people.

A pavilion existed in the area, but it was in disrepair and too small for the community’s needs. Members of the local Unbound mothers group thought it could be repaired and expanded, but they lacked funds. Still, according to Janeth, a leader within the group, they weren’t willing to give up on the project.

“There were no financial resources to restore it,” she said. “Then, Susan and Paola [local Unbound staff members] told us [about] the Agents of Change resources.”

Agents of Change is a platform supported by donations. It provides grants for local Unbound groups to make improvements within their communities. Janeth’s group made a grant proposal and it was accepted.


A newly renovated pavilion serves a rural community on the outskirts of Cali, Colombia. The kiosk is used for large and small community gatherings. The renovation was funded by donations to Unbound’s Agents of Change platform.
From left, Janeth and José examine the newly renovated community kiosk they’ve been working on in rural Cali, Colombia. Their daughter, Valentina, is sponsored through Unbound. Jesús, right, a sponsored elder, also worked on the project.
 

A community effort

About 10 members of the community worked on the project, including Janeth’s husband, José. Their daughter Valentina is sponsored through Unbound.

“A long time ago [the kiosk] fell,” José said. “Then there was someone who put a roof on it, but very rudimentary, and that got wet.”

The workers reinforced the structure, patched the walls and repaired the roof so it no longer leaks. While a few final touches remain, the renovated pavilion is already being used by the community, which illustrates how important building a community network is for families in the Unbound program.

“For the families living in the communities where Unbound works, their networks are their safety nets,” Regional Project Director Nelson Vowels said. “When a child becomes sponsored and their mother joins the local support group, her network grows exponentially.”

As she becomes part of the Unbound community, locally and globally, her chances of improving her family’s situation increase.

– Regional Project Director Nelson Vowels

Agents of Change expands that circle of support beyond the family to the greater community.

For the moment, such big-picture benefits aren’t on José’s mind. He’s more concerned with completing the project.

“We need to finish the floor,” he said, “and put two doors on.” They also needed to finish the existing restroom facilities, which were upgraded with modern plumbing and running water.

Sponsored elder Jesús, who also worked on the project, is grateful for the renovated pavilion.

“First of all, we now have somewhere to hold our meetings,” he said. “As you can see, we still have to finish it, but now we don't get wet.”