Estimated read time: Seven minutes

Resilience helps us overcome difficult times. In a new world reality shaped by a pandemic, it is resilience which makes people thrive when they would otherwise succumb to enormous economic, social and physical pressures. Many have lost jobs and need cash assistance. Others have adapted to working from home while homeschooling their children. Governments have adapted response mechanisms by transforming public services. Essentially, the more resilient you are, the more likely you are to not only survive a crisis like COVID-19 – but thrive instead. But what happens when multiple crises come at the same time and these resilient capacities do not exist? This is the situation right now in Central America.

What is World Vision’s vision for Central America?   

Edgar Sandoval Sr.
CEO World Vision United States

At World Vision, our faith motivates us to seek “life in all its fullness” (John 10:10) for all children and families. Today, a hopeful future seems elusive for Central American families. They face long-term challenges in their countries such as food insecurity, violence, and social exclusion, in addition to the new threats of back-to-back hurricanes last year and COVID-19.  Enduring loss of loved ones and loss of livelihoods has led to losing hope. A dire situation has become a desperate situation – causing families to migrate. 

I know from my own experience that no one wants to leave the people they love and the places they know. Thriving at home, with the hope of a better future, is the pathway to fullness of life, especially for children and other vulnerable groups who suffer the most from the risks of migration. Empowering families to thrive is not a short-term response – in Central America or anywhere. That’s why World Vision commits to staying 10-15 years in communities, helping people build resilience to economic and environmental shocks (like a drought or hurricane), insecurity, and societal vulnerabilities. We implement programmatic, strategic, and policy approaches that intentionally build resilience at different levels of society.   

In Central America, we call this framework Hope at Home: Building Resilience in Central America. Our call is to focus on people—individuals, families, and communities. In our comprehensive approach, World Vision partners with civil society, including churches and faith-based organizations, the private sector, local and national governments, and international organizations committed to Central America to address the root causes of poverty and strengthen resilience capacities. We have found that this increased support works. In one community in Honduras, World Vision saw a 33% reduction in families intending to migrate.  

Now is the time to act, so that families can thrive at home. Now is the time to increase funding for resilience – not just disaster recovery but the hard work of long-term development. Now is the time to build hope at home for children and families in Central America! We invite you to join us. 

Why the focus on resilient development for Central America?   

Michele Gonzalez-Mendia
Sr Regional Engagement Manager

Central America has attained several development milestones in the past decades, such as poverty reduction and decreased child mortality.  However, without resilience the country, community and individual levels, these gains are at risk of succumbing to existing vulnerabilities in the region that have been exacerbated by the pandemic and the impact of the hurricanes in late 2020.     

The region has been suffering from chronic challenges like gang violence, organized crime, structural and culturally accepted violence against women and children, poverty and inequality, social exclusion, and lack of opportunities—especially among women and indigenous populations. Recently, severe weather patterns have had huge negative impacts in Central America. The Dry Corridor of Central America, from Guatemala to Nicaragua, has experienced consecutive droughts during recent years, and experts forecast a much warmer and dryer climate in the region in the future.  As a result of these extreme climate crises, combined with the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua has more than tripled over the past two years, from 2.2 million people in 2018 to almost 8 million people in 2021.  

All these multidimensional vulnerabilities interact with each other, making individuals highly prone to migrate as their last coping mechanism to survive and provide for themselves and their families. By working with these individuals, families, communities and countries to build resilience, this type of forced migration can be prevented. One big advantage is that Central American countries have an important demographic bonus — their productive age population out numbers the non-productive population —which represents a n opportunity to invest in its people, particularly children and youth.  Creating educational and job opportunities for youth is one key for advancing socioeconomic inclusion goals and building resilience in the region.


How is World Vision building resilience and fostering hope in Central America? 

Jorge Galeano
National Director World Vision Guatemala and Honduras

Resilience defined in a very simple way is the ability that people have to overcome adverse situations. In the context of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras adverse situations are the daily bread of each day for many people, from political instability to natural disasters, extreme poverty to extreme levels of violence. It is for this reason that our approach as World Vision is not focused on trying to avoid adversity, but rather on equipping individuals, especially the most vulnerable, with the capacities to be able to overcome it and come out stronger in the process.  

Leveraging the demographic bonus of the region, our programs support young people at social risk to strengthen basic soft skills such as self-esteem and conflict resolution, as well as technical capacities to be competitive and connected to economic opportunities. We also focus on families through our livelihood programs, supporting them with technical knowledge to improve production methods in addition to empowering them with a new vision of the world where their relationships within their family, with the environment, with their neighbors, and with their communities are mutually beneficial. This promotes strong relationships that produce social cohesion, a basic element in building resilience at the community level.   

The good news is that resilience, like any capacity, can be built and strengthened. We support Central Americans to overcome adversity to the extent that they are able to transform it into new opportunities. 

Manuel works at a fried chicken chain, Don Pollo, located close by to where he lives. Before benefiting from the Super Pilas program, Manuel used to be very anxious. Now, he describes himself as hopeful.

Why partner with World Vision in building resilience and fostering hope in Central America? 

Cody Nath
President and CEO of RTI

Our company has been investing with World Vision for over six years, and the reason we support their work is the holistic approach. World Vision’s development model helps people develop physically and emotionally, to have hope and faith in a better future. They launch an effort and let the community drive it forward as their own. 

World Vision implements a big-picture approach to helping communities address critical needs and have hope at home.  They bring together all of the pieces — nutritious food, clean water, economic opportunities, healthcare, education, protection— for a complete solution to the puzzle of poverty. 

Our company supports one piece of this puzzle in Honduras, bringing clean water to communities.  We can be a part of a visibly transformative project that can happen in under a year and dramatically changes people’s lives — it’s not a difficult concept to say we should do more of that.  

We know that when we invest in water with World Vision, that will lead to additional community resilience. We know the local communities are committed to maintaining the water systems and addressing challenges that lie ahead. We also realize many more communities need to get started on their development journey. We’re eager to be involved and encourage other companies to invest in building resilience in Central America. 

Be part of the change happening in Central America

We invite you to join us on this journey in fostering hope and building resilience in Central America.  The task is not easy; adaptability will be critical for people to thrive at different levels. Please consider contributing our Central America Emergency Fund, or learn more about our work in the region here. You can also use your voice for change. U.S. foreign assistance strengthens countries’ abilities to respond to crises like COVID-19. Contact your members of Congress today and ask them to protect this critical funding.

For more information: 
Michele Gonzalez-Mendia
Senior Regional Engagement Manager for Latin America and the Caribbean

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