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Scholarship Students Worldwide

4 schools of medical care provided on medical missions

Service trips conducted


Wealth increase for scholarship graduates

Patients served on Medical Missions

3 service groups can complete a home



I’m so happy that I went on this trip. The joy that people have in Guatemala is incredible. It’s bittersweet: When I went to Guatemala and I was serving people, it was the happiest I’ve ever been in my life, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be that happy again.

Anonymous, Marian High School

GUATEMALA, February 2019

Medical Missions like this allow you to come home and look at your own patients a different way. I think it’s very rewarding, both personally and professionally.

Dr. Harry Carr, M.D.

GUATEMALA, Summer 2017

We did this exercise where we had to buy a week’s worth of groceries on $7, and it was absolutely eye-opening. It was really hard, and what I came up with wasn’t food that I wanted to eat. But that’s the reality for them. I get a Starbucks every morning that costs as much as their food for their whole family for the whole week.

Anonymous, Saint Michael's Catholic Academy

GUATEMALA, January 2019

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International Samaritan in the News

Learn more about International Samaritan’s press coverage, campaigns, and community involvement.

Note: We are committed to respecting and uplifting our scholars. Due to some stories containing sensitive information, we redact or change the names of the scholars, their parents, their schools, and other details that could compromise their anonymity.

The Story of Ebo and Dani

This story is from and written from the perspective of Selam Terefe, our program director in Ethiopia.

The first thing we noticed when we walked into Ebo’s one room house are the drawings posted on the clay walls: Some were drawn with pencil, others with pen, but they were all so good! There were more drawings in the notebook we found in his notebook, wedged between the family’s couch and his bed.

There was very little in the home: Besides the bed and the couch, there was just one small, beatdown cupboard. That was it – the one room could not hold anything else. Ebo’s mom, Dani, led us into the room and we sat on the small couch while she sat on the bed and faced us, ready to answer all our questions.

Dani told us that she has worked in the garbage dump for 11 years, picking up plastics and selling them. However, both the recent landslide and the new management coming into the garbage dump have made her work very challenging. She told us she’s even resorted to begging to raise her son, though she has found a way to make a little bit of money through weaving: Dani can make handmade scarves from scratch even though she lost her two fingers on her right hand as a kid due to a fire.

“I came to Addis Ababa from [REDACTED] when she was 15 seeking a better life,” she told us, “And I met Ebo’s father in Addis Ababa after he came from [REDACTED] for the same reason. We met while I worked as a maid in the house he was living in and we soon had Ebo. Ebo was my first child, but he was his father’s sixth. Ebo’s father and I separated when Ebo was only four. Ebo was… challenging as a child, so he was held back in the first grade, but he’s doing so well now.”

Dani is very supportive of her son’s education. The way she talks about him, it is evident how much she loves him. She sadly told us that she had a lot of people telling her to get rid of Ebo when he was younger and more difficult, but that never stopped her from trying to provide for her only son. She almost did lose him three years ago in a car accident, and she is so grateful he is with her and well.

At this point in our conversation with Dani, Ebo walked into the room. He politely greeted us with a smile, and we started talking. We asked him about his drawings first, of course – he told us that he drew all of them and we were so impressed. We took time going through the entire notebook and Ebo explained to us the meaning behind each drawing. My favorite was a drawing with the face of a man facing a woman with a heart in between them and flame from below, captioned “True love has lots of enemies”. He told us it was based on a story he wants to write one day. The notebook was filled with art, some bits of writing, and even song lyrics he’d written, so it was not surprising when Ebo told us he wants to be an artist when he grows up.  Dani told us that, while she’s supportive, she would prefer if he focused on his studies because there isn’t money in art. She said she regrets not going to school herself and wants her son to be successful.

Ebo is heeding his mother’s wishes and focusing on academics – his report cards were clear indications. He scored 17th from 48 kids his first semester, and he’s found other classes to take outside of school. He even started going to church to take lessons recently and even participates in art and acting competitions he can find. He goes with kids in his neighborhood once a month to participate in poetry presentations, too.

When Ebo talks about his passion for the arts, this shy boy he becomes louder, more confident, and he has this fire in his eyes. He really loves it! We were so moved by this fifteen-year-old boy who wants nothing more than to follow his dreams and explore his talent, and his mother who has done so much to support him.

The Story of Ebo and Dani

This story is from and written from the perspective of Selam Terefe, our program director in Ethiopia.The first thing we noticed when we walked into Ebo’s one room house are the drawings posted on the clay walls: Some were drawn with pencil, others with pen, but they...

A Letter from Emanuel

Hello, I am Emanuel. I am 20 years old. When I was in my mother's womb, she did not want me to be born, so she hit her belly and took medication to cause a miscarriage, but I was born anyway. However, I was so badly damaged that when I was born I had to be...

A Letter from Selene

My name is Selene. I was born and raised in the countryside by my mother and stepfather. I was sexually abused by my stepfather. I was sleeping in my bed and in the middle of the night I found my stepfather next to me in the bed. I was shouting when he tried to...

A Letter from Terry

My name is Terry. I am 13 years old and an 8th grader at [REDACTED] School. When I grow up, I want to be an engineer and get a well-paying job. My mother was diagnosed with cervical cancer a couple of years ago. Before she got ill, she used to work as a washer, hand...

A Letter from Nora

Note: Since this letter was written, Nora has graduated from high school and started studying at University. Everything started when my parents got together. They lived in Zone 18 [of Guatemala City] with my grandmother and my uncles, who lived lives full of luxury...

A Letter from Zoe

Greetings. I am Zoe. I am 10 years old and am a fourth grader in [REDACTED] Primary School. I live with 7 of my family members. Our house is always full of laughter and happiness. To an outsider, it would seem like we have everything in the world. I don’t think even...

president’s blog

The Loss of a Precious Life

By Mike Tenbusch | January 15, 2021

We lost one of our scholars last week.  Asdrubal Barroso was only 13-years-old.  He was born in Cuba but moved with his parents to Nicaragua four years ago in search of better opportunities.  They settled in a small home in Villa Guadalupe, the community surrounding Managua’s garbage dump, where his father found work to provide for his family. 

Selam Terefe, kneeling third from left, with some of the parents at our community center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia during a service immersion trip in March 2020.

At the age of nine, Asdrubal stopped going to school and started working in the dump alongside his dad.  They labored together for almost a year.  But Asdrubal wanted more.  One day, he saw Kevin Lopez, our team leader in Nicaragua, in the village and approached him, saying, “I heard you’re the guy who helps kids.  Can you help me?  I want to go to school.”

Kevin spent some time talking with Asdrubal and could see immense potential in him.  He was quite curious and wanted to be a doctor one day.  Soon after that conversation, Kevin enrolled Asdrubal in our Paso a Paso scholarship program so that he could begin attending school again, this time in a private, Catholic school, where he excelled for the last three years.

Asdrubal’s mom worked in a small bakery in the village, and he began working with her every day after school.  Whenever he saw Kevin, he would call out to him, “Come, have some Cuban coffee with us!”  And then Asdrubal’s mom would give Kevin a piece of bread while the three had coffee together, and Asdrubel would pepper Kevin with questions, trying to speak to him in English, about things he was learning in class.  

The kids on the local baseball team in Villa Guadalupe always wanted Asdrubal to play on their team because he was from Cuba, and “we all think Cubans are good at baseball,” Kevin told me.  While he couldn’t join the team because of his work, Asdrubal played with them often and made good friends in Nicaragua.

Last week, Asdrubal cried out to his mom because of the pain that was searing in his belly.  She took him immediately to the local hospital and instinctively knew that his appendix may have burst.  But he never got to see a doctor.  COVID has returned to Managua with a vengeance, and the hospital’s waiting room was filled with people hoping to be seen.  He died that afternoon from peritonitis in a chair in the hospital’s hallway.  

Please keep Asdrubal’s parents in your prayers.  He was their only child, and they are struggling horribly right now.  I find comfort in knowing that Kevin is by their side, letting them know through his love that they are not alone.  We will continue to do all that we can, through our prayers and through our work each day, to support Asdrubal’s parents and to give life to the talents of children like him away from the work inside the dumps.

The Loss of a Precious Life

By Mike Tenbusch | January 15, 2021 We lost one of our scholars last week.  Asdrubal Barroso was only 13-years-old.  He was born in Cuba but moved with his parents to Nicaragua four years ago in search of better opportunities.  They settled in a small home in Villa...

Water Is Life

By Mike Tenbusch | December 31, 2020 Have you ever lain in bed at night trying to figure out how to pay a bill?  Only to fall asleep and keep waking up with that bill on your mind as the peace of sleep gets overtaken by the anger of insufficiency.   It’s a horrible,...

What’s the Worst Problem You’ve had at Work?

By Mike Tenbusch | December 4, 2020 There are a couple of lessons I learned early in life, and each came at some pretty painful personal expense.  The first is that you have to change the oil in your car, especially if your car is really old and leaks oil.  I learned...

Keep On Getting Better

By Mike Tenbusch | November 19, 2020 One of the unique features of International Samaritan is the faithfulness of the families who have been giving to the mission—and leading it—since our inception over a quarter century ago.  We have only had three board chairs in...

What Inspires Us to Good

By Mike Tenbusch | November 5, 2020 While we in the US wait patiently for election results, our friends across the world are confronting different challenges.  Hurricane Eta has pummeled Nicaragua and Honduras since Tuesday afternoon.  Driving rains and rising rivers...

Why Angelica Runs

By Mike Tenbusch | September 29, 2020 For over 12 years now, Angelica Cancinos has been the conscience of our work through her leadership of our Paso a Paso scholarship program in Guatemala.  I met with her in Guatemala before taking this position, and the power of...

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