Building Bright Futures: #UnboundAdventure Philippines Journal

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Philippines Journal Unbound

Become a sponsor with Unbound and change lives for $36 per month

I heard a short story today about my fellow traveler Bert. It sort of perfectly exemplifies the countless ways in which Unbound sponsorship can bless and change lives… not only for the sponsored child or elder friend but for the sponsor too!

Bert visited the “comfort room” at his outing today. Afterwards, he proceeded to the centralized hand washing station, which was situated between the men’s and women’s facilities. At the sinks, he encountered a young girl. He watched as the precious little one pushed with all her might on the faucet. With concentration, she tried numerous ways to get the water to come out. But all to no avail. Bert then quietly got her attention and waved a few fingers in front of the sink’s sensor. Immediately, fresh water came from the sink and the little girl could wash her hands. Delighted, she soaped up and scrubbed her hands. Then, ready to rinse the soap, she turned to Bert again–surely he was the magic man who knew how to make water flow! Wordlessly, Bert smiled and again waved his fingers and the water, and another set of smiles, appeared.

A sponsor, a small act of support and encouragement, a little “lesson”. A big blessing for both of the people involved…

Photos from Manila Antipolo Day:

To see all of my photos from today, visit my Facebook album

A warm welcome in Antipolo from families whose lives have been blessed by Unbound sponsors. They lined the streets to wave flags and welcome us. Unbound sponsorship brings smiles to our faces! Our day started with a birthday celebration for Nate, Sir Gari and Mavic. Awesome Dario was our driver today for the Manila Project Day. Susan, Remy and Precy, part of my group for today. The women of Antipolo share how savings and lending are both a learning curve and a blessing for their families. Precy, became a CPA in the Philippines and now runs a small business in the United States. This Unbound sponsor shared that hard work and care for customers will help the women's businesses grow. Remy, who was born in the Philippines, shared with the women that if they have faith in God and work hard that they can survive and prosper. The women we met with shared their "SWOT" - strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for their savings community. We were able to offer a few insights, but also our admiration for their courageous and innovative projects. The bookkeeper shows off the meticulous records kept by her savings and lending group. We attended a Savings and Lending project in Antipolo with Unbound parents who meet in small groups twice monthly to support one another in savings and lending activities. The money they borrow goes to create and help grow the small businesses that they are opening in their community. This extra income goes to their children's education, their housing, their health care and brighter futures for their families. Lunch at the Antipolo Cluster Staff Office was prepared by these lovely Unbound volunteer moms. Volunteering with the program is one of the ways they can "give back" to Unbound for all of the love and support their children receive. At the Community-based Livelihood Expo we met with Unbound parents, talented business women who have created ways to support their families. They showed off their beautiful talents by vending hand-made items and learned some new skills from one another too! Today, Barbara met her sponsored child and family. These personal interactions make all of the years of letter writing, financial support and prayers come to life. At the Community-based Livelihood Expo we met with Unbound parents, talented business women who have created ways to support their families. They showed off their beautiful talents by vending hand-made items and learned some new skills from one another too! At the Community-based Livelihood Expo we met with Unbound parents, talented business women who have created ways to support their families. They showed off their beautiful talents by vending hand-made items and learned some new skills from one another too! At the Community-based Livelihood Expo we met with Unbound parents, talented business women who have created ways to support their families. They showed off their beautiful talents by vending hand-made items and learned some new skills from one another too! Michelle made this beautiful hand-beaded bag. It's destined as a gift soon for someone special in my life! At the Community-based Livelihood Expo we met with Unbound parents, talented business women who have created ways to support their families. They showed off their beautiful talents by vending hand-made items and learned some new skills from one another too! At the Community-based Livelihood Expo we met with Unbound parents, talented business women who have created ways to support their families. They showed off their beautiful talents by vending hand-made items and learned some new skills from one another too! These women attend Unbound programming to learn business skills, to support one another and to create bright futures for their families. A lovely Unbound sponsored youth shows off one of the handicrafts the Expo women learned to make today: a hand sewn hairband. Mark was a seven year old boy when he was first sponsored through Unbound. Now, as a professional working with Accenture, he gives back to Unbound by volunteering. Today he shared in an emotionally way the incredible gratitude he has to the family in the US who sponsored him for so many years and made his future dreams come true. Dan, with his admiring fans! Dan gave a beautiful "thank you" message to the women at the Expo to let them know how much we admire their hard work and dedication to their families and their futures. Don and Nate show off the beautiful handcrafted bamboo trays that we received as gifts today at the Expo. Paula and Greg spent today with Natividad, the lovely elder friend they sponsor with Unbound, and her granddaughter. Through Unbound sponsorship, Nati receives support for health and dental care, spiritual wellbeing, exercise classes, livelihood training, outings with her peers and much more. At the Community-based Livelihood Expo we met with Unbound parents, talented business women who have created ways to support their families. They showed off their beautiful talents by vending hand-made items and learned some new skills from one another too! Nate and new friends, doing "wacky", which seems to be one of the Filipinos' favorite ways of taking photos! Mona Lisa and Lisa at Art in Island - this innovative and interactive museum was the perfect place to take the Unbound children today. Don has his bags packed and is always ready for a new adventure! Relaxing after Art in Island Thank you to Raygie and Carmen of the Unbound Antipolo staff for being our "angels" for today and showing us the work of Unbound in Action
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We attended a Savings and Lending project in Antipolo with Unbound parents who meet in small groups twice monthly to support one another in savings and lending activities. The money they borrow goes to create and help grow the small businesses that they are opening in their community. This extra income goes to their children's education, their housing, their health care and brighter futures for their families.

Every day here in the Philippines, I’m learning about the countless ways Unbound sponsorship touches the lives of those served by this organization. Today, we witnessed some of the programs that enable not only sponsored children but also their parents to lift themselves from challenging circumstances created by poverty, calamity and societal challenges.

After a birthday celebration for Gari, Nate and Mavic, our driver Dario whisked us across Quezon City, our home for these few days, to Antipolo. Once again, as we neared our destination, small groups of Unbound families began to appear alongside the busy streets. They waved handmade flags and signs, flashed bright smiles and greeted us as though we were visiting royalty. I’ve found this amazingly hospitable welcome to be a tradition in the Philippines. Wherever we go, we are welcomed with open and loving arms.

A volunteer bookkeeper from Unbound's Family Savings Program opens her accounts for us. She's received leadership and financial training to hold this important role in her small community's savings and lending program.

A volunteer bookkeeper from Unbound’s Family Savings Program opens her accounts for us. She’s received leadership and financial training to hold this important role in her small community’s savings and lending program.

At our first stop in Antipolo, we attended a fascinating meeting of Unbound parents who participate in Unbound’s Family Savings Program for parents of sponsored Unbound children and youth. Meeting in small groups, the participants assemble twice a month to put money into combined savings accounts and to lend to other community members. These loans are used to build small businesses. The members own and operate their own businesses as cooks, convenience store owners, ceramics artists, seamstresses and even rice vendors! During the first portion of our meeting, the members conducted their “SWOT” analysis to discuss the successes, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing their entrepreneurial efforts.

Next, we broke into small groups with two sponsors entering into personal encounter with the women. Don and I sat together in a group of women who not only participate in Unbound together, but who also support each other as neighbors and friends. As one of the members, a single mother of six whose husband passed away, shared her challenges, the obvious love of this group was poured out in front of us. With very little safety net around her, this member not only serves her family and runs her business. She also makes time to volunteer at her children’s school in the feeding program. One of her daughters is part of Unbound as a sponsored child. The program has provided not only financial support and fellowship, but also a path to a brighter future for both daughter and mother.

Far too soon, we had to say goodbye to these amazing women and travel to our next destination: the Antipolo staff offices. There, over a delicious lunch prepared by Unbound volunteer moms, our staff “angels” Carmen and Raygie gave us an overview of their services in this part of Manila. A white board in the office gave an overview of the members served by their staff of six during the month of February: 352 sponsored children (ages 6 to 12), 570 sponsored youth (ages 13 to 20), 275 college students (the Service Scholars), and 131 aging sponsored members–a total of 1,328 individuals. In truth, the impact is much larger because only one family member is officially counted into these statistics. But as we have seen, the entire family is included in the supportive services Unbound provides.

commitmentcmOn the wall in the staff office, I took a picture of a hand-drawn poster which lists “Commitments”. Among the commitments were the following goals for which we should all be striving:

  • Take the challenges
  • Have faith in God
  • Set your goal
  • Know your priorities
  • Believe in yourself
  • ACT ON IT (emphasis theirs)
  • Manage your time wisely
  • Apply your learnings in real life situations
  • Do your best
  • Focus
  • Be positive
  • Never give up

The next stop on our agenda saw these commitments brought to life. At the Community-based Entrepreneurs’ Expo, we witnessed what those savings and lending communities have created. Gathered with hundreds of Unbound parents, we had the chance to purchase handcrafted items from the small businesses they run, fueled by loans from their Family Savings programs. Time and time again, I was not only astounded by the quality of their products but also by the ways in which these members have beat the odds to strive for brighter futures. Being with them, witnessing their courage but also their inventiveness, makes me want to strive to do more in my own work.

Why? Because when we prosper, we are more readily able to share our gifts with those around us.

One of my final encounters of the day was with Mark, a young professional who came to the Expo to offer his personal testimonial. Mark became a sponsored child at the age of seven. Now, several years later, he is not only a professional working with Accenture, but also an Unbound supporter. Like many of the Unbound “graduates” we met who are now sponsors, Mark understands the amazing difference that one sponsor’s financial contributions can make in the life of a child or aging friend. He shared with tears in his eyes not only his gratitude for Unbound as an organization, but also for the sacrifices his sponsor’s family has made to support him and his family. Mark gives back now, because he believes in the mission of Unbound.

Mark’s is a story of hope. Being here this week fuels me to do more, to be better, to dream big, but also to try in some way to mirror the Unbound member families’ love and hope in my own little community. My photo of that “Commitments” sign will be going up on the wall in my office!

And you? How has witnessing what I’m sharing here this week touched your heart?

If you feel at all moved by what you’ve been reading, today would be the perfect day to “ACT ON IT” by becoming an Unbound sponsor!

My patron saints for this adventure will be St. Lorenzo Ruiz of Manila and his companions, who gave their lives for their faith, and Nuestra Señora de Guia (Our Lady of Guidance). Please join me in praying for Our Lady’s intercession in the work of Unbound and for the courage and conviction of St. Lorenzo to lovingly reach out to those most in need.

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About Author

Lisa M. Hendey is the founder and editor of CatholicMom.com and the bestselling author of the Chime Travelers children's fiction series, The Grace of Yes, The Handbook for Catholic Moms and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms. As a board member and frequent host on KNXT Catholic Television, Lisa has produced and hosted multiple programs and has appeared on EWTN and CatholicTV. Hendey hosted “Catholic Moments” on Radio Maria and is the technology contributor for EWTN’s SonRise Morning Show. Lisa's articles have appeared in Catholic Digest, National Catholic Register, and Our Sunday Visitor. Hendey travels internationally giving workshops on faith, family, and Catholic technology and communications topics. She was selected as an Elizabeth Egan Journalism Fellow, attended the Vatican Bloggers Meeting, the “Bishops and Bloggers” meeting and has written internationally on the work of Catholic Relief Services and Unbound. Hendey lives with her family in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Visit Lisa at www.LisaHendey.com for information on her speaking schedule or to invite her to visit your group, parish or organization.

1 Comment

  1. Hello Ms. Lisa, just want to say thank you for writing and sharing your personal encounter with Unbound- Manila Project’s sponsored friends, for believing and supporting them towards sustaining their families, communities and soon the society…

    Indeed Its a grace meeting you personally.

    Mabuhay po kayo!

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