Families use emergency funds for food, education

Roland (left) and April (second from right) with their family in the Philippines. Their 12-year-old son, also named Roland (far right), is sponsored through Unbound.

Like many around the world, Roland and April in Quezon City, Philippines, found themselves without work to provide for their family of four children after the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Roland drives a tricycle, which is a motorcycle taxi with a side cart, and April is a street vendor who makes and sells food. Even after lockdowns aimed at mitigating the virus’s spread were eased, their income was considerably less than before the pandemic.

The hours Roland could transport passengers were limited, and April wasn’t able to restart her food business because she couldn’t afford to purchase supplies.

“But I’m still thankful to God because he keeps us safe from this virus,” April said. “I’m also proud that I have my husband who is doing all he can to support our needs in the family.”

Assistance from the government provided some initial relief, along with help from family members. Ongoing support from Unbound, though, has been a consistent lifeline. The couple’s 12-year-old son, also named Roland, is sponsored through the organization.

Roland (left) stands next to his motorcycle taxi and April (right) prepares food.
Roland (left) stands next to his motorcycle taxi and April (right) prepares food.

In addition to regular support from Roland’s sponsorship, the family received emergency assistance from Unbound’s Disaster Response fund. The extra help was delivered directly to the bank account where the family receives sponsorship funds.

“We used the money to buy food, for hygiene needs, rice and vitamins for our children,” April said. “We also put gasoline in our tricycle so that my husband could start doing his job again.”

Workers in informal sector hit hard

Alexander uses his computer at home and works at a small store in Merida, Mexico.
Alexander uses his computer at home and works at a small store in Merida, Mexico.

Thanks to the generosity of Unbound donors, more than $668,000 in additional support has been sent to families around the world who have been severely affected by the pandemic.

In Merida, Mexico, university student Alexander, who is the second youngest in a family of eight, used emergency support from Unbound for living expenses and to finish his studies. He recently completed requirements for a bachelor’s degree in education and was waiting to receive his diploma.

The economic impact of the pandemic on his family has been significant. His dad, a mason, hadn’t worked in construction since being injured in an accident three years ago. Then the pandemic hit. His mother makes and sells hammocks, but the store where she buys her thread is closed now.

Most of my siblings also lost their jobs and my mother is not able to go out to sell her products. The economy was hit hard here in the state of Yucatan and all of Mexico.

– Alexander

The U.N. estimated there are 1.6 billion informal workers and 400 million “precarious workers” worldwide, making up 61% of the global workforce. The agency’s independent expert on extreme poverty recently warned that social protection measures put in place since the outbreak of COVID-19 have been mostly insufficient, and that the worst effects on poverty were still to come.

Bleidys takes a break at home in Cartagena, Colombia.
Bleidys takes a break at home in Cartagena, Colombia.

In Cartagena, Colombia, university student Bleidys almost had to suspend her studies in industrial engineering when her father’s pay was cut in half and her mother could no longer work as a street vendor. Emergency assistance from Unbound allowed her to continue in school.

Sadly, Bleidys lost her grandfather to COVID-19. After he died, she moved in with her grandmother to help out and so her grandmother wouldn’t be alone.

Bleidys’ mother, Erminia, said continuing schooling for her four children and getting enough food for the family were their most immediate needs. Her husband’s pay now goes mostly for rent, so she started making face masks to earn money to buy food. Support from the Unbound sponsorships of two of her children and scholarship assistance has helped stabilize them for now.

“Another challenge that we have as a family is that we are seeing how to move to a cheaper house to be able to cover some expenses, because nobody expected this from the pandemic and everything is new for all of us,” Erminia said.

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.