International Samaritan Opens Family Life Center in Honduras


Former U-M Athletic Director Bill Martin Supports A Safe Space for Kids to Play and Learn in Honduras



ANN ARBOR, Mich. and TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras, June 10, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — A community bordering a city garbage dump in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, has a newly built family life center, thanks to International Samaritan and generous donors such as the University of Michigan’s former athletic director, Bill Martin.

The Buen Samaritano (Good Samaritan) Family Life Center officially opened this past Saturday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a speech by Kenneth Coleman, Ph.D., a political scientist and the husband of former University of Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman.

The new center is located in a poverty-stricken neighborhood where residents have long relied on the nearby dump for their livelihood, picking through trash to find recyclables to sell and items to keep and use. Now, the community has a family life center with a library, a computer room, classrooms for extracurricular activities such as music and art, a kitchen, a soccer field, and soon it will have a playground too.

“It’s a space I never imagined we would have,” said Ronia Romero, the International Samaritan Program Director in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. “It’s a dignified space where children can be children and mothers and fathers can grow stronger with their families.”

While the family life center is open to the entire community, Romero will be utilizing the new space for her work with scholarship students. Romero directs the holistic scholarship program for International Samaritan, which includes 60 Samaritan Scholars in Tegucigalpa. The students receive tuition assistance along with support for clothing, books, transportation, and some basic health and wellness support. The scholarship students range in age from kindergarten through college and trade school.

Romero has worked with International Samaritan for the past six years in their mission to walk hand-in-hand with people who live or work in garbage dumps to break the chains of poverty.

“After graduating and finding employment, our scholarship students earn two and a half times as much as their parents earn,” said Mike Tenbusch, President of International Samaritan. “Our network of graduates are determined to come back to tutor younger scholars and help others rise out of poverty. This center gives them the space and opportunities to do that.”

International Samaritan first began serving in Honduras in 2008. Last year, with the help of Bill Martin and other generous donors, International Samaritan built a 20,000-gallon water tank in Tegucigalpa that brought clean water to 400 homes and more than 2,000 people.

“We don’t have as much disease,” Romero said, “thanks to the clean water.”

“We envision a time when the world’s garbage dumps will no longer be homes to humans struggling to survive,” said Tenbusch, who oversees the organization’s operations in eight countries. “We’re working to achieve that vision through donor-funded scholarship programs and by assisting communities with projects that improve their lives.”

International Samaritan’s family life centers were inspired by the SAY Detroit Play Center and first piloted by International Samaritan in Ethiopia in 2021 with the creation of the Ray and Marie Weingartz Family Life Center there. International Samaritan works with communities that rely on city garbage dumps in Central America, the Caribbean, and East Africa. The organization will support more scholars and build more family life centers as donor funds allow.

About International Samaritan
Founded in 1994 in Toledo, Ohio, International Samaritan is a Christ-centered organization built on Catholic Social Teaching. Its mission is to walk hand-in-hand with people who live and work in the garbage dumps of developing nations to help them break out of poverty. It provides holistic scholarships for students from kindergarten through college, currently supporting 950 scholars in Central America, the Caribbean, and East Africa. To learn more, visit

Contact International Samaritan at (734) 222-0701 or email [email protected] 

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at

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