Category: Guatemala

Transita smiles in welcome outside her home.
Apr 7 2018

‘I will fight for my dreams’

Guatemalan youth doesn't give up on education

Transita smiles in welcome outside her home.


By Jordan Kimbrell, writer/editor

I recently had a conversation with my grandmother about dreams. We talked about how sometimes they evolve as we mature, or even fade away to be replaced by new ones. I once dreamed of becoming a professional actress (I even started out as a theater major), but anyone who had seen me as a child with my nose constantly in a book wouldn’t be surprised to learn my dream had changed and I ended up as a writer/editor.

What is true of most dreams is that, for them to become reality, they require hard work. For me that meant going back to get my master’s. Luckily, I received a teaching assistantship and had access to student loans to make my educational dreams a reality. But these resources aren’t always available in places where Unbound works, and even with an Unbound sponsorship, once a student reaches upper levels of education the cost may be more than she can afford.

That was the reality Transita, 26, in Guatemala faced when she graduated high school in 2013. She’s been sponsored since 2003, but the many expenses that go along with college were simply more than the sponsorship could help with.
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Mar 10 2018

Returning to their roots

Texas parents visit Guatemala with adopted sons

Cecile and Raul Villarreal with their sons, Alex (far left) and Lou (center), and their sponsored friends, Hector (second from left) and Magdalena (far right).


Last summer, Cecile Villarreal traveled with her husband, Raul, and two sons, Alex and Lou, to Guatemala on an Unbound awareness trip. Alex and Lou, who were adopted by Cecile and Raul, were born in Guatemala, and this was their first time visiting their birth country. In this interview, Cecile shares with contributing writer Maureen Lunn about taking an Unbound adventure with her family.

Maureen: How long have you been involved with Unbound, and what led you to initially become a sponsor?

Cecile: We started sponsoring our first child, Magdalena, in 2005. We had adopted my oldest son, Alex, from Guatemala in 2000 and had become part of an association of parents who had done the same. In one of the association meetings, an adoptive parent introduced Unbound to us, and we picked Magdalena that very same day. A few years later, we started sponsoring Manuelito. We felt that was a great way to be useful and to keep contact with our sons’ heritage.
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Dec 9 2017

‘We could always see his immense joy’

Q&A with Unbound staff member about Father Stanley Rother

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’

Q&A with Concepcion in Guatemala about Father Stanley Rother

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

What sets Unbound scholarships apart

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.

Audience members at Unbound's second Global Insight Series.
Sep 30 2017

Global Insight Series

What we learn when we listen


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 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.

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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 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 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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