Category: Central America

Feb 3 2018

A home in the hills, a school in the city

Sandra, a sponsored youth and Unbound scholar in El Salvador, logs many miles in her pursuit of an education. Her tenacity is serving her well as she makes steady progress toward a degree in English literature.


This is the fourth and final post in a series of stories focusing on the challenges of finding adequate, affordable housing in the economically developing world. It is told through photographs and originally appeared in the Winter 2017 edition of our print publication Living Unbound.

By Henry Flores, communications liaisons director

Poverty limits the creation of dreams, blocks visualization of goals and buries hopes. But poverty isn’t something everybody experiences in the same way. It’s an individual, personal and intricate problem.

Some people face a lack of decent housing, while others have a hard time getting to school or just can’t pay for their next meal. The time and energy they spend on finding ways to solve their daily struggles takes away from the time, vision and resources they need to build a better future.

Sandra, 23, always dreamed of attending college. Her father, a coffee farmworker, and her mother, who works as a cook, barely earn enough to cover the needs of their family of five, and providing a college education for Sandra wasn’t a possibility.
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Dec 9 2017

‘We could always see his immense joy’

Unbound staff member Gaspar Baran Guoz talks with the mother of a sponsored child.


Blessed Stanley Francis Rother was beatified Sept. 23 in Oklahoma City. It was the final step before formal recognition as a saint. Father Rother, an American priest who was martyred in Guatemala in 1981, was a contemporary of Unbound’s late co-founders Bob Hentzen and Jerry Tolle.

Our organization has long felt a special affinity for Father Rother, who, in the Tz’utujil dialect of those he served, was affectionately called “Padre A’plas” (Father Francisco). Several of those who knew and worked with him are also members of the Unbound community. The following interview, which took place in Guatemala in October, is with one of those individuals.

Tell us about yourself

My name is Gaspar Baran Guoz. I live in the town of Cerro de Oro, in the Santiago Atitlan municipality. I was born and raised here. Thanks to God’s grace, I’m still part of Unbound. I’ve been working and serving the families for 35 years now. I don’t feel burdened for having worked all those years. On the contrary, I show the happiness I feel when I get to work, and feel the eagerness to continue helping the families.
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Dec 2 2017

‘We never saw him as a stranger’

Concepcion sits on the steps outside the church in Santiago Atitlan where Blessed Stanley Rother served as pastor.


Blessed Stanley Francis Rother was beatified Sept. 23 in Oklahoma City. It was the final step before formal recognition as a saint. Father Rother, an American priest who was martyred in Guatemala in 1981, was a contemporary of Unbound’s late co-founders Bob Hentzen and Jerry Tolle.

Our organization has long felt a special affinity for Father Rother, who, in the Tz’utujil dialect of those he served, was affectionately called “Padre A’plas” (Father Francisco). Several of those who knew and worked with him are also members of the Unbound community. The following interview, which took place in Guatemala in October, is with one of those individuals.

Tell us about yourself

My name is Concepcion, and on Oct. 11 I will turn 62 years old. I have 11 children. The eldest is 45 years old and the youngest is 15 years old. I now have 13 grandchildren.

My husband is 69 years old, and he works the in the field. I take care of the household duties, and whenever I have a chance I make traditional clothing.
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Nov 25 2017

Give Tomorrow: Scholars are the future

Unbound social worker Alexander in Guatemala.

Over the past two weeks, we’ve explored the power of Unbound scholarships and shared the story of scholar Rosaura in a new video. In the video, social worker Alexander reveals the difference an Unbound scholarship can make in a young person’s life by providing sustained support.

Scholars also participate in community service and serve as role models for sponsored kids. These activities provide an invaluable boost to a young person’s development. Students learn what it means to give back. Even though they have little means, they experience serving others who have even less.

“Since [Rosaura] has been in Unbound, she has shared her experiences and is a role model for many other youth,” Alexander said. “The scholars, to me, are the future of Guatemala.”

Young adults all over the world struggle to help support their families and still have the means to pursue their educations.

That’s why Unbound’s scholarship program is designed to set students on a path to a better future. With support and the invaluable life lessons from humbly serving their communities, Unbound scholars are creating a better tomorrow for themselves and our world.

We invite you to be part of creating a hopeful future — for all of us. Join our global community of compassion and support.

Donate today and #GiveTomorrow.

Oct 14 2017

‘There’s always a light’

Sponsored youth Damaris, 23, has faced an uphill battle since childhood to complete her education. Nevertheless, she’s close to reaching her goal of a college degree in human resources.


Every path out of poverty is lined with obstacles. Damaris’ journey has been extraordinarily difficult.

Most sponsored children need additional support to help them continue their studies past primary school. For Damaris, it took sponsorship support and her willingness to work while attending school to afford her living and education expenses.
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Audience members at Unbound's second Global Insight Series.
Sep 30 2017

Global Insight Series


The legendary college basketball coach John Wooden said, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” Coach Wooden would likely have enjoyed what took place on the evening of Thursday, Sept. 14 at Unbound’s headquarters in Kansas City, when three of Unbound’s Latin America program coordinators shared what they’ve learned from the families they serve.

The occasion was the second presentation in the Unbound Global Insight Series, attended by about 100 people. The main presenters were the coordinators of three of our programs in Latin America.

The Global Insight series was begun as a way for sponsors and other interested members of the local community to learn more about the work of Unbound and, especially, to take advantage of the opportunity to hear from those who are closest to the work of the organization in the field.
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An image of a young man in Costa Rica working on homework.
Sep 23 2017

Earning respect through hard work

An image of a young man in Costa Rica working on homework.

Edwin uses a ledge in his home to study.


When Edwin was sponsored through Unbound in Costa Rica at 8 years old, he probably never thought he’d have the opportunity to go to college. He and his family faced challenges that would have made getting an education difficult.

“My life was very complicated because sometimes we did not have money to buy food, school supplies or other basic needs,” Edwin said. “With Unbound, thank God, it has been a blessing in our lives.”
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An archive image of Father Stanley Rother at a carnival in Guatemala.
Sep 18 2017

Father Stanley Rother, a symbol of generosity and peace

An archive image of Father Stanley Rother at a Carnival celebration in Guatemala.

Father Stanley Rother at a Carnival celebration in Guatemala. Photo courtesy of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City.

Father Stanley Francis Rother served in Guatemala at the mission in Santiago Atitlan starting in 1968. As the Guatemalan civil war raged between military and guerilla forces, the Catholic Church became a target. Determined to stay with the people, Father Stan remained in Guatemala and was murdered in July 1981.

Unbound’s co-founder Bob Hentzen met Father Stan while working in Guatemala. Father Stan’s love for God and people has long served as inspiration for our work.

In December 2016, Pope Francis recognized the martyrdom of Father Stan, whose beatification (the final step before sainthood) will take place Sept. 23 in Oklahoma City. Father Stan was a priest of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, and is the first recognized Catholic martyr born in the United States.

Unbound staff member Barclay Martin recently traveled to Guatemala and listened to the stories of many who knew Father Stan, and here he reflects on that journey.

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An image of a handmade gift from Nicaragua.
Sep 16 2017

‘Past today and into tomorrow’

An image of a handmade gift from Nicaragua.

By Corie Rast, social media coordinator

Nearly every weekday for the past 13 months, I’ve driven to my job at Unbound in Kansas City, Kansas, sipping on coffee and cycling through my regular stress points:

“Ugh, I hope it’s not freezing in the office today.”

“Kinda bummed I only have these leftovers for lunch. I just have … too much food.”

“If this meeting doesn’t go exactly how I want it to go, I’m just going to lose it.”

Don’t get me wrong — I’m lucky and thankful to have the job I do, but I also have a tendency to be kind of whiny and self-absorbed sometimes.

It’s for this exact reason that I jumped at the opportunity to tag along on an awareness trip to Nicaragua with Unbound. I’d been itching for a new adventure for months, and aside from trips to Canada and Mexico, I’d never traveled internationally before. (It’s a personal fact I held close to the vest working alongside some of the most well-traveled people I’ve ever met.)

More than the travel experience, I was ready to see our program in action. In my daily work, I have the chance to read about it, hear about it, even try to write pithy web copy about it, but it’s impossible to fully understand what we do without traveling to the field myself. I needed to see and hear the impact our program was having on staff, sponsors and sponsored members. An awareness trip was the perfect opportunity to do just that.

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Sep 9 2017

Send us your questions for the program coordinators!


On September 13, at our HQ in Kansas City, Kansas, we’ll be broadcasting our Global Insight Series on Facebook Live!

Unbound program coordinators Hugo Plaza Beltran of Bolivia, Chico Chavajay of Guatemala and Manuel Pineda of Honduras will be answering questions about how the Unbound program works in each of their countries. They understand deeply the joys and challenges of partnering with families living in poverty. Hear from these experts about how sponsorship gives families the opportunity to dream about tomorrow.

We know not everyone can make it to Kansas City, so we’re bringing the event to you. Head over to our Facebook page and submit a question for one of our project coordinators at any time. Then, tune in at 5:30 on September 13 for the countdown to the livestreaming event and you may hear the answer to your question.

Want to attend the event in person? Visit Unbound.org/insightseries to reserve your spot today!