Leaven Blog

A hand across the border

By Jill Ragar Esfeld

My friend Miguel is a 90-year-old native of Guatemala.

He loves tamales and atole and going for walks in the sunshine. I send him pictures of my patio covered in eight inches of snow, and he is aghast.

For a little over a dollar a day, half the cost of a cup of coffee, I provide my friend with clothes, shoes, and medical care. 

The support I give impacts Miguel’s family and his community.

The most important aspect of this story, especially when so many are fleeing Central American countries to seek a better life, is that Miguel’s family will not be joining a caravan headed to the U.S. southern border.

Because of a hand up from Unbound, the organization that allows me to support my friend, his family is able to stay home, where they want to be.

Home is where every person wants to be. 

Only the worst conditions would motivate anyone, especially parents and children, to abandon their homes and embark on a dangerous journey to another country — a journey that is often futile because economic migrants are unlikely to qualify for asylum. 

It makes sense, then, that the solution to our immigrant crisis is not a wall at the border to keep people out, but a hand across the border to lift them up.

You can be that hand through Unbound, by sponsoring a child or an aged person like I do.

Like me, you can become friends with the person you sponsor, writing letters back and forth, learning how your donations make a direct impact on your new friend’s life. 

You’ll be rewarded with the knowledge that you are making a real difference. 

Your monthly contribution not only helps meet your friend’s basic needs. It also enables Unbound programs to give their family and community tools to work toward economic self-sufficiency.

This means they don’t have to leave their home to seek a better life elsewhere.

And I guarantee you Unbound is the best choice for making that difference.

This Kansas-based non-profit has the highest rating given by Charity Navigator, and holds the Platinum GuideStar Nonprofit Profile Seal of Transparency, the highest level of recognition offered by GuideStar. 

Unbound is also the only child-sponsorship organization to receive CharityWatch’s highest  A+ rating.

Unbound receives no government funding, and 93 percent of donations go directly to programming. 

Miguel’s eyesight is failing now, so his granddaughter Matilda writes to me for him. She decorates her letters with drawings of flowers. I treasure every one.

Matilda tells me about her family’s life in Guatemala, what they do and eat and celebrate. I write her back about life in Kansas and send her pictures of snow.

Through the process, I am one hand across the border, helping this family stay home, where everyone wants to be. 

For information on how you can become a sponsor through Unbound, visit the website at www.unbound.org.

About the author

Jill Esfeld

Jill Ragar Esfeld received a degree in Writing from Missouri State University and started her profession as a magazine feature writer, but quickly transitioned to technical/instructional writing where she had a successful career spanning more than 20 years. She returned to feature writing when she began freelancing for The Leaven in 2004. Her articles have won several awards from the Catholic Press Association. Jill grew up in Christ the King parish in Kansas City, Missouri; and has been a member of Holy Trinity Parish in Lenexa, Kansas, for 35 years.

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  • What an insightful soul reaching share of the friendships formed through sponsorship. We have been sponsors for 27 years and have had a multitude of kids.Kudos to all who sponsor this way. Kudos to the kids and aging for allowing this to happen.

  • Jill, you got it. It’s so simple to reach an elderly, a child, an adolescent to establish a relationship. Mutual relationship that can transform our lives. Beautiful personal story. My husband and I have been sponsors for many years. A proud moment was when Diego Andres graduated from High school reaching the dream of his life with our sponsorship. He has a new future and he is empowered. Thanks for sharing.