Category: Central America

An archive image of Father Stanley Rother at a carnival in Guatemala.
Sep 18 2017

Father Stanley Rother, a symbol of generosity and peace

Reflections from Guatemala on the occasion of his beatification

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.

Keep reading

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

‘Past today and into tomorrow’

Gaining perspective through a trip to Nicaragua

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.

Keep reading

Sep 9 2017

Send us your questions for the program coordinators!

Hear the answers during our livestreaming event


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!

An image of a home in El Salvador.
Aug 19 2017

‘The families are the reason I continue’

Serving as a social worker in El Salvador's gang-afflicted cities

An image of a home in El Salvador.

A home in El Salvador, typical of the homes Carmen and other Unbound social workers visit on a regular basis.



To celebrate the U.N.-sponsored World Humanitarian Day Aug. 19, Unbound is highlighting inspiring members of our global community who’ve overcome obstacles to help others. Carmen is from El Salvador and works for Unbound as a social worker in 11 communities in Santa Ana, with more than 200 sponsored children and their families. She started with Unbound seven years ago, learning about the organization while working as a caretaker for a sponsored elderly woman. Carmen and her husband have a 16-year-old daughter.

In this interview, conducted by Naresli Calitto, former communications liaison, Carmen shares about her experience working for Unbound amidst the challenges of life in El Salvador. Her name was changed for safety reasons.

Keep reading

An image of a Guatemalan woman holding a microphone.
Aug 7 2017

Understanding one young Mayan woman’s experience

An interview with a former sponsored member

An image of a Guatemalan woman holding a microphone.

Former sponsored member Selica Piloy shares her experiences as an indigenous Guatemalan woman at an event at Unbound’s international headquarters in Kansas City.


The U.N. has designated Aug. 9 International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. According to Dictionary.com, indigenous means “originating in and characteristic of a particular region or country.” In simple terms, an indigenous person is one whose ancestry is based in the country and region in which they are born.

According to the U.N., there are an estimated 370 million indigenous people living in 90 countries across the world. With that kind of diversity, the experiences of one indigenous group might vary greatly from the experiences of another. There are some common experiences, however, such as maintaining strong connections to tradition and community, and facing the challenges of discrimination and lack of opportunity. How these experiences develop depend on the country, region and even sometimes the gender of an indigenous person.

At Unbound, we focus on the individual to understand their distinct needs and goals. To gain a better understanding of what it’s like growing up as an indigenous person, we interviewed Selica Piloy, a former sponsored member from Guatemala who’s attending college in the United States and just finished a summer internship at Unbound’s international headquarters in Kansas City. Selica, 21, is getting ready to start her sophomore year at Cottey College in southern Missouri, where she’s pursuing a degree in international studies.

Selica is part of the Kaqchikel Mayan community in Guatemala. She’s passionate, bright and articulate in describing her experience as an indigenous woman.
Keep reading

An image of a nearly empty room in an apartment in Medellin.
Jul 15 2017

The cold of loneliness

Unbound staff member reflects on moving from El Salvador to Colombia

An image of a nearly empty room in an apartment in Medellin.

A room in Henry’s apartment in Medellin on one of his first nights there.


By Henry Flores, communications liaisons director

My family and I moved to Colombia, South America, from El Salvador about one year ago. We wanted to give our children a new international education experience and Unbound had an open position for a communications liaison in the country. It was a great opportunity for Unbound, my family and me.

I decided to come in advance of my family to make a path, find a place to live, get life organized, etc. While moving within one’s own country isn’t easy, it still allows for the same social, economic and cultural structure. Moving to another country is a completely different scenario.

When I moved to California, U.S.A., back in 1989, I arrived in a Salvadoran community. I had my relatives, Salvadoran restaurants, food, markets and traditions that were familiar to me. I felt part of my own culture and idiosyncrasy; I had a network. Here in Colombia, I’ve only met one Salvadoran in my new city of Medellin.

Keep reading

An image of a sponsor on an awareness trip in Colombia.
Jul 10 2017

Our 2018 Awareness Trip schedule is here

Pick one of the 14 countries we're traveling to in 2018 and come along!

An image of a sponsor on an awareness trip in Colombia.

John Harney from Arizona visits with his sponsored friends Juan and Karen on an awareness trip to Colombia in May 2017.

An Unbound Awareness Trip is the ultimate opportunity to see the work of Unbound firsthand. Whether you travel to meet your sponsored friend or simply experience the beauty of another culture, your experience on an awareness trip will be like no other.

We’ll be your guides all along the way on this affordable and exceptional experience. Sponsors and non-sponsors alike are invited to travel to any of the 14 countries we’re journeying to in 2018, or check out a trip later this year — there’s still time to sign up!

Learn more

An image of Blanca wearing her running medals.
Jun 12 2017

Running for love

Guatemalan mom dedicated to family, sport


People go running for many reasons. Some do it to get healthy, some for the competition and some to support a cause. Blanca is a 29-year-old mom of four living in Guatemala whose daughter, Berberlin, 13, is sponsored by Wayne from Montana. Blanca is also a runner. Her main reason for running is simple: to support her family.
Keep reading

Image = Domingo works on homework. He's learning how to balance being a student with being a husband and father.
Jun 2 2017

Opportunity of a lifetime

Guatemalan dad goes back to school

Image = Domingo works on homework. He's learning how to balance being a student with being a husband and father.

Domingo works on homework. He’s learning how to balance being a student with being a husband and father.


Throughout his life, Domingo from Guatemala has had many roles. He’s a father, husband, fisherman, brother and dreamer. And now, at the age of 47, he’s also an Unbound scholar.

“I have always wanted to go to school,” Domingo shared, “it’s just that I was born into circumstances that prevented me from doing it. I had sadness in my heart because I wanted to learn, I wanted to be able to read and write like my friends. I have waited for the opportunity all of my life.”
Read more

May 29 2017

On Memorial Day, honoring a life lost and a dream pursued

Esther McClimans of Jamestown, Pennsylvania, has been an Unbound sponsor for almost 12 years. She’s sponsored Esdras from Guatemala since he was 8 years old, and he’s now 20 years old.

With Esther’s support through sponsorship, Esdras has excelled as a student and is now studying to become a nurse. His choice of profession is especially meaningful to Esther. Her late grandson, Capt. Joshua McClimans, was a nurse with the U.S. Army. He was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2011.

“The fact that Josh is gone but we have this young man that cares about nursing, it made me feel good,” Esther said. “[Nursing] is such a wonderful profession.”

Read more