KC nonprofit helps families in Honduras

Posted at 2:05 PM, Jan 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-07 23:55:16-05

Sitting next to his grandmother in their small home tucked on the hilltops surrounding Santa Barbara, Ever Chavez discussed his dreams.

“Now I’m in [secondary school] and want to become an auto-mechanic,” he told 41 Action News. “I want to get my license so I get a good job.”

Every morning when the roosters begin to crow around 4 a.m., the 16-year-old wakes up and gets ready for school. He walks for an hour, takes a bus and then walks another hour to school.

He does this every day.

“In our country, the country is treated wrong by politicians, and I want to get ahead.”

Yet, one of the biggest challenges he and others within Honduras face is getting an education. There are only three students left in Ever’s class.

Working to support a family

“They need to drop out of school to support their families. They have to go to work,” said Scott Wasserman, the president and CEO of Unbound, a nonprofit organization based in Kansas City.

According to Wasserman, most students in rural communities drop out of school by the sixth grade because the costs are too high. Families cannot afford money for transportation, uniforms or school supplies. Children are often forced to work on corn and/or coffee fields to help support their families instead of going to class.

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“When my husband passed away, I had to tell my older son he had to take the steps of his father,” said Maria, a 71-year-old mother of eight. He had to “go work in agriculture to provide for the family.”

In a good week, Maria and her family might make $45. In a bad week, they could make as little as $25. She has eight children and 41 grandchildren.

This type of poverty often drives families to split up. Every year, hundreds of thousands of Hondurans leave in search of a better life in the United States, and each year, tens of thousands of undocumented migrants are sent home.

Helping people in Honduras

Now organizations like Unbound are trying to strengthen communities within Honduras. The goal is to help empower people in developing nations, like Honduras, so they don’t feel forced to make a dangerous journey north.

“These are smart people who work very hard for their children. They just need a break,” said Wasserman. “If they can just get a little break, they can do so much for themselves.”

PHOTOS: Unbound: A 41 Action News journey to Honduras

Both Ever and Maria are part of the Unbound sponsorship program. They receive help from families in the United States for various things. Maria and her family, for example, recently received concrete to build a new bathroom.

Ever and his family received money to build a more stable home. He, his mother and grandmother used to live on mud floors in a stick house. Now, they live under a tin roof in an adobe home.

Ever also receives money to buy school uniforms and help pay for his transportation to and from school.

“I’d like to stay, but I want to get ahead and better myself,” he told 41 Action News. “But there is no employment here, so I will have to leave.”