Unbound: Fighting inequality in Latin America and the world

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Our concern about the levels of poverty in Latin America and the poor distribution of income and wealth in the region inspired my wife and I to sponsor a child in Costa Rica through an international non-profit organization called Unbound.

According to its website, the organization’s mission is to “…walk with the poor and marginalized of the world. We provide personalized care and direct benefits to children, youth, the elderly, and their families so that they can live with dignity, reach their desired potential, and fully participate in society.”

Since we made that decision in 2010, we have exchanged letters by regular mail and have monitored the growth and personal progress of our sponsored friend, Aracelli, who was a girl in elementary school at that time.

In October 2017, along with other sponsors from the United States, we had the valuable opportunity to attend an “Awareness Trip” with Unbound to Costa Rica and finally met Aracelli in person. During this trip and since then, it became obvious to us that humanitarian organizations, like Unbound, have a significant impact in reducing socioeconomic inequality, not only in Costa Rica, but in the other nineteen countries in which it operates in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

On our Awareness Trip, Aracelli told us that she wanted to graduate from high school, go to college, and become a dental technician or pharmacist. In her letters, Aracelli kept us updated on her progress. We were pleased with how she was growing up and how our contributions to Unbound paid off. Not only are we under the impression that organizations like Unbound are achieving concrete results in reducing socioeconomic inequality, but there are statistics that support this notion.

Ed Kennedy, su esposa Elaine, y el grupo Unbound Awareness Group, en San José de la Montaña, Costa Rica, 2017. (Foto de Ed Kennedy)

According to Unbound’s website, “51% of sponsored children stay in school a year longer than their peers” and “ninety% of mothers believe they have the power to change the lives of their families.” We believe in the “90% of mothers” percentage because we saw an example firsthand during the Awareness Trip.

One day, we met a group of three women, each of whom had a child sponsored through Unbound. The women presented a fabric softener that they planned to make themselves and then sell to small supermarkets. An Unbound staff member was helping them, but the three women were in charge of the presentation. They showed us the ingredients and prepared a small batch to demonstrate the process. One of the women said that because of her involvement with Unbound, she had learned how to surf the Internet (for productive purposes) and how to use PowerPoint and Excel. She also said that she used to be very shy but being a part of Unbound has made her come out of her shell. That was obvious, because she took the microphone in her hand, and she was in control of the presentation.

In October 2020, my wife and I received a beautiful letter from Aracelli in which she said that she had reached her educational goal, a high school diploma. She thanked us for the years we sponsored her in Unbound, but that it was time to withdraw from the organization’s sponsorship program. It was her decision. Her plans were to go ahead and study to become a pharmacist, but she was leaving Unbound so my wife and I could sponsor another child who needed more help than she.

We are very proud of Aracelli and we believe that socioeconomic inequality in Costa Rica has been reduced, even if only a little, thanks to the impact of Unbound. By the way, we are now sponsoring another child with Unbound, this time in Colombia.

Ed Kennedy has a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of New Orleans. He earned an MBA from Florida International University (FIU) in 2008 and a Master's in Latin American and Caribbean Studies from FIU in 2019. In 2018, Kennedy retired from a career in commercial insurance and now works for Miami-Dade College as an English writing tutor. He is also studying for a bachelor's degree in Global Languages at FIU.