Central America

Supporting youth-led campaigning and strengthening civil society advocacy for children and youth on the move in Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico.

What we are trying to change

Every day, often driven by violence or poverty, children, young people and families leave home from countries such as El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, many moving towards the US in search of safety and opportunities to work. The journey they make is perilous and children are at increased risk of exposure to violence or exploitation. Many are returned home and upon return, they can face extreme challenges, not only to deal with what drove them to leave, but also to reestablish themselves, to reintegrate and to process the traumas that they all too often experienced during their journey. There is very little support to help children, young people and their families to reintegrate into society. 

Reintegration in El Salvador

Destination Unknown partner ACISAM (The Association for Training and Research for Mental Health) works in 4 areas of El Salvador to support children and young people who are returning or being returned from the United States to reintegrate into their society, to process the sometimes traumatic experiences they have lived through and to rebuild or build a life for themselves. Young people report many benefits of the approach: 

"Since I got to know ACISAM, I’ve found opportunities. Previously, no organization had approached us in such a way. A psychologist would come assist us, would stay with us for several sessions, and we would talk through our experiences. We also played games to learn how to express what we had gone through. It was very important for me that ACISAM entered my community, because they helped me to see good opportunities, so much so that I decided not to leave anymore, and to focus on what I can do here in my country without trying to go back to the US."

Learn more in this short video here

What we are doing

In partnership with human rights networks in Honduras (COIPRODEN-Honduras), El Salvador (RIA El Salvador), Guatemala (CIPRODENI-Guatemala) and Mexico (Redim), we are: creating a safe space for young people to speak out; building capacity of civil society to boost campaigning for the rights of children on the move; and identifying our campaign focus under the guidance of young people.

We are supporting young people with experience of migration to voice what is important to them and what they think governments should do to ensure their rights are upheld and protected.  

We are building the capacity of organisations that focus on child rights to understand and campaign on the rights of children on the move. And we are working with organisations focusing on migration to better understand and campaign for and with children and youth on the move.

A journey in film

Partner ACISAM has supported the production of a film, La Travesia, which follows the journey of young people moving from El Salvador to the United States, the meeting of different cultures, people and situations on their way and until their return. 

Watch the trailer

Members and partners in Central America

In each region, we work with a variety of local, national and international youth-led organisations and civil society organisations whose work is grounded in the rights of the child, and which have expertise in child protection, mobility, research and campaigning. Our members work in many different ways to promote and enhance protection and the participation of children and young people.

Take action

Are you interested in being part of Destination Unknown’s network of young people in Central America?

Do you want to be in touch with other young people and at the heart of developing and driving campaigns so that the rights of children and young people on the move are respected, upheld and protected?

Get in touch! We’d love to hear from you.

Take action

Regional news

Concerns over US-Mexico borders

Families should be together and in communities, not locked up, to avoid the traumatic and detrimental effects this is having on children.

Promising practices

Supporting reintegration in El Salvador

Find out about our partner ACISAM and the important work they're doing in El Salvador to help children reintegrate into the community. 

Stay informed