September 07, 2023 | Elder Sponsorship

Still Pursuing Their Dreams

Elders find joy and satisfaction in helping their families and neighbors

By Loretta Shea Kline

Your elders will dream dreams, your young people will see visions. — Book of Joel, 3:1

In his 2018 book, “Sharing the Wisdom of Time,” Pope Francis called attention to the critical role elders play in society and advocated for a “new alliance” between generations that encourages mutual sharing and learning.

“Our society has silenced the voices of grandparents,” the pope wrote. “We pushed them out of the way. We didn’t give them the chance to share their experiences, to tell their stories, and to speak about their lives. We pushed them aside, so we have lost the treasure of their wisdom.”

The future of society depends on elders having the courage to dream and being able to share what they’ve learned navigating through life, Pope Francis wrote. “We need elders who dream! They will be able to inspire young people to move forward creatively as they envision a future.”

Unbound works to connect generations and foster meaningful relationships through the sponsorship of elders. With support from sponsors, local staff and their peers participating in Unbound programs, elders meet basic needs, enjoy fellowship and have hope for a future in which their dignity is honored.


Joyce sits outside her home in the Kisumu area of Kenya. Her sense of confidence and calm presence contribute to her ability to help others resolve conflicts.  

A source of calm and wisdom

Sponsored elder Joyce is chairwoman of her Unbound elder group in the Kisumu area of Kenya. At age 98, the mother of nine (all but two of her children have passed away) and grandmother of 25 is known for bringing people together in her family and community to solve problems.

Joyce was a preschool teacher as a young woman and later engaged in a fish vending business. The business took her to the cities of Nairobi, Mombasa and Kakamega, and helped in educating her children and putting food on the table.

Joyce shares stories of her life experiences with younger women in the hope that they will be motivated to help others. One such story involves making education accessible to women.

“When we came here, I found many women were illiterate; they could neither read nor write,” Joyce said. “I would teach them how to read and write in the [elders] groups because I was the secretary. Educational institutions for adults were set up and many illiterate adults came, and I would teach them.”

Local resident Monica, mother of a sponsored child and secretary of the Unbound Rangala mothers group, serves as a liaison to the Unbound elders group. She supports the elders in correspondence with their sponsors and does other administrative tasks. She has observed Joyce’s happiness and considers her a wise adviser.

“Personally, I see her as a pioneer in this area,” Monica said. “Even when there are challenges, she can stand and lead us through her words, which are always helpful.”


Joyce enjoys spending time with her great granddaughter Amina, who is the daughter of Joyce’s grandson Philip and his wife, Suzzanne. The family lives with Joyce, who was able to make improvements to her house with assistance from Unbound’s Critical Needs Fund.

Feeling empowered in helping others

Remy has been a health worker in her town in the Quezon area of the Philippines for more than 40 years. While she doesn’t make a salary, she uses the honorarium she receives to support her family, as her husband can no longer work.

At 68, Remy serves as president of the Unbound elders group in her community. One of the pioneer health workers in her area, the mother of three (her second child passed away at age 19) and grandmother of six visits the homes of elders who can’t get to the clinic anymore.

Remy has an elementary school education, but through training she received from the health department in her area, she was able to learn first aid and other skills needed to be a health worker.

“It was year 1980 when I started to undergo training with the group of people working in the Department of Health who visited our community,” Remy said. “They ask me to volunteer first into their mission so that I could see what they do. Years had passed and I still have my interest in medical field, so I continue my training and seminars under the Department of Health.

“There is a doctor who taught me how to measure temperature, measure the height and weight of a person, how to do vaccination, how to use stethoscope, how to give proper medicines to sick people and first aid, etc. I am carrying that knowledge until now. I have been serving my community since 1980; it has been more than 40 years now. I never get tired because I am happy with what I’m doing.”

Remy said she feels “happy and energized” whenever she’s at the health center.

“There are cases that our patients are needed to be brought to the hospital; I feel so empowered to assist them,” she said. “It’s an honor for me to attend to people in need, most especially the elderly people in my community. If ever the cases are beyond my capacity as a health worker, we endorse the patient to a doctor in the nearest hospital who is affiliated in the Department of Health.”


Sponsored elder Remy checks patient records as part of her duties as a health worker in the Quezon area of the Philippines. She says being a health worker is one of the joys of her life.

Dreams for the future

Remy wants her grandchildren to have educational opportunities that weren’t available to her and to see them graduate from college. She also wants to keep helping others in her community.

“At my age, maybe I just want to stay strong and healthy,” she said. “I want to continue serving my community as a health worker as long as I [can]. … This is the least thing that I could do to enjoy my life, help others, support my family and community.”

Remy also enjoys corresponding with her Unbound sponsor and exchanging stories. She’s grateful for the friendship and the financial assistance that helps her meet her family’s needs.

“To all the sponsors, thank you very much for your untiring support,” Remy said. “You have given us elderly people the chance to continue fighting poverty and continue to hope for the betterment of ourselves and our families.”


Remy records health information of a fellow elder sponsored through Unbound. Remy says it’s an honor to help others, especially elders in her community.

I want to continue serving my community as a health worker as long as I can. … This is the least thing that I could do to enjoy my life, help others, support my family and community.

— Remy, Sponsored elder and health worker in the Philippines

Henry Flores, Nickson Ateku and Teejay Cabrera contributed photos and information for this story.