Category: Central America

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.

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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.
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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.

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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.
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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.”
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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.”

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Image = Ronaldo takes his sheep out to graze in a field near his home.
May 17 2017

Living Unbound: Choosing wisely and well

Image = Ronaldo takes his sheep out to graze in a field near his home.

Ronaldo takes his sheep out to graze in a field near his home. He has raised livestock since he was first sponsored in 2006.


Ronaldo is an 18-year-old sponsored youth who lives with his parents and five siblings in Guatemala. He’s an impressive young man with wisdom beyond his years, and he learned early on one of life’s most valuable lessons about economics.

“Saving is very hard because we always need the money,” he said, “but spending it can be very easy. You have to really think about how you will spend your money and spend it right.”

Ronaldo thinks a lot about “spending it right,” and that farsightedness has guided him ever since he first became sponsored in 2006. (His current sponsor is Michael from Arkansas.) It led Ronaldo to choose livestock as a sponsorship benefit, a choice he’s never regretted.
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Modesta, a mother of nine in Guatemala, offers wisdom on raising a large family.
May 12 2017

Learning from the wisdom of mothers

Wise words from a mom of nine

Modesta, a mother of nine in Guatemala, offers wisdom on raising a large family.

Modesta, a mother of nine in Guatemala, offers wisdom on raising a large family.


As moms, we all have moments when we question ourselves and our motherhood. Are we doing it right? Are we doing what’s best for our children?

Let these wise, loving words from a mom in Guatemala encourage you this Mother’s Day.

Modesta is a mother of nine children ranging in age from 14 to 34. She lives in Guatemala, where both she and her husband work to support their large family.

“Children are the joy of this home,” Modesta said. “I would lie if I’d said that it´s easy. It´s not easy. My husband is out most of the time because of work. His pay is not able to cover everything. I must work in the fields harvesting corn.
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Apr 28 2017

Mothers invest in their children and community

Image = Emiliana and her daughter, Kenia, outside their home in Guatemala.

Emiliana and her daughter, Kenia, outside their home in Guatemala.

Mother’s Day is a special time for Unbound. It gives us an opportunity to celebrate the mothers in our lives and in our Unbound community.

Mothers are at the heart of the Unbound program. To put it simply, we believe in the wisdom of mothers. And honoring that wisdom is a key principle of how we operate.

In the countries where we work, mothers are most often the primary caregivers of their children. They work tirelessly to provide for their children the best opportunities for a happy, healthy life.

In a community in Guatemala, one expression of this care is a monthly neighborhood cleanup.

“We decided to do monthly cleanup activities because we wanted to have a nicer environment and we wanted to teach our children the importance of a clean community,” said mom Emiliana, whose 14-year-old daughter, Kenia, is sponsored through Unbound.

Emiliana leads an Unbound mothers group, in which 12 to 15 mothers of sponsored children gather monthly to discuss issues in their community, pray together and talk about their involvement in Unbound. She also serves as coordinator for the three additional mothers groups in her community.

The mothers work together to invest in their community and their children.

Each of the four mothers groups in Emiliana’s community clean a different area every month. They clean up roads, the town square, around the church and in neighborhoods. For communities where trash collection is haphazard, these cleanups significantly improve the health and beauty of the neighborhoods where the families live.

Image = Mothers in one Guatemalan community work together to improve their environment while mentoring their children.

Mothers in one Guatemalan community work together to improve their environment while mentoring their children.

But the cleanups aren’t just about neighborhood beautification.

These efforts are a way for the mothers to spend time with their children and model for them what it looks like to proactively invest in your community.

Emiliana says the activities have helped strengthen the bonds between mother and child and have been a great way for mothers to mentor teamwork and environmental consciousness in their children.

“I am happy because we are getting positive comments from our neighbors,” Emiliana said. “I think we are not only mentoring our kids, but also the rest of our community.”

As we prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day, we recognize the multitude of ways that mothers around the world invest in their children and communities. Their hard work, dedication and unrelenting service and sacrifice inspire us. We’re thankful to partner with innovative moms the world over who are working every day for a better future.

Visit unbound.org/moms to learn more about how we invest in mothers.