Now that the school year is over, the children are “officially” on summer vacation. But what does “vacation” look like at the orphanages? Vacation is usually a very fun and busy time for the children, with lots of activities and visitors. However, visits are not possible now, so the orphanage directors and staff are looking for creative ways to keep the children active and healthy.
Outdoor play is an important part of the children’s lives, so one of the activities that the children have been enjoying a lot has been hiking together. Nothing like spending time in nature! Time in the outdoors improves children’s mental and physical health, teaches them about teamwork and communication skills and to love and care for the planet.
Jaque and Alin, both former orphanage residents and CDV alumni, are on the front-lines of combating the COVID-19 pandemic in Baja California. They have been working strenuous hours to save the lives of those who have been affected by the virus in an area that has been hit hard with surges in cases. Jaque, a registered nurse and doctor Alin, have worked around the clock, often in 12-hour shifts for 30 consecutive days in order to provide the necessary coverage for COVID patients, both risking their lives to help those in need.
If you have ever wondered whether your donations make a difference, this is a perfect example of how your support is the catalyst for our children to dream big and accomplish big things. Alin and Jaque have completed a full circle of transformation that is creating a ripple effect in their lives, their families and communities.
We are extremely proud of Alin and Jacque, these two bright and determined young women who are making a difference in the world – paying it forward!
As we continue to adapt to the changes in our lives during the quarantine, life inside our supported orphanages is no different. The children are adjusting between online schooling and afternoon activities to keep them busy. Orphanage directors are doing their best to overcome the challenges brought by the pandemic and are making sure that above all, everyone at the home remains healthy.
The children continue their online classes for the remainder of the school year which ends July 17th. The orphanages are coordinating the best that they can to ensure each child is provided with learning tools. Due to minimal computer access, it's been a challenge to provide each student with the screen time they need to complete their assigned tasks but orphanage staff is making it happen.
The children of Casa de La Esperanza orphanage have been talking about how much they would like to have a farm for a while, so they used the free time they had due to the quarantine to make it happen. They finished putting together a barn where they already welcomed three sheep and two goats. The children are pouring so much love and care into tending for the animals!
After the barn was complete, they moved onto another project; a chicken coop and an area for bunnies! Children of all ages are involved in this project. The younger ones help to gather and count fresh eggs for the home. Daily chores are a good way to introduce structure into a child’s routine in a way that can be fun since they’re taking care of a pet. It teaches them about contributing to the household, too.
With your support, we can continue to improve the quality of life for hundreds of orphaned and abandoned children. Together, we have the power to ensure that the Corazon de Vida kids feel safe and secure knowing that we care and will be there for them during these difficult times.
Please support our online fundraising “COVID-19 CONTINGENCY FUND” campaign HERE
To my beautiful Corazon de Vida Family,
These are difficult and uncertain times for all of us. Please stay safe and follow all of the recommended measures to lower the rate of spread of the Coronavirus. The children need us all healthy and well, as they depend on us for their survival.
We have had to cancel all of our orphanage trips through the end of April and have also postponed our annual golf fundraiser. We know that other groups are also cancelling their visits which means that the flow of food, supplies and funding to the orphanages is coming to a halt.
As of today, Corazon de Vida offices are closed until further notice, however, staff will be working remotely from home to continue bringing our Corazon de Vida family together and find new ways of supporting our children in the midst of this evolving situation. Our children in Baja need us now more than ever.
· Together we can make sure our orphanages keep their doors open.
· Together we can make sure our children have food on their table, a hot shower, and a safe place to call home.
Many of you go beyond just giving to the children. Your wise guidance through the years has been invaluable. Please let us know if you have ideas for how we might continue our support for the children while still keeping everyone safe from the current threat.
We may not foresee the future but we have the power to change our present. We acknowledge the hardship you are facing and we have each and every one of you in our hearts.
Life has a way of altering your journey in the most perfect way. As if by magic, my path crossed with Corazón de Vida’s children. I was always interested in finding ways to help victims of human trafficking, so when I moved to California I wanted nothing more than to serve in an organization that was making an impact in Tijuana – an international hub for human trafficking. In my search to make a difference, I found Corazón de Vida Foundation. I understood that by providing a safe place for children to grow up in, Corazón de Vida was preventing them from falling into the claws of traffickers. I saw this as a proactive way to fight this problem, so I bought a ticket to visit the children in Tijuana with one of Corazón de Vida’s monthly trips. My life was forever changed.
The first home I visited was El Faro orphanage. I think most first-time visitors would agree with me on how palpable the love and compassion emanating from volunteers is. Everyone is ready to give and receive love. And then you meet the children, and in the midst of hugs and smiles they look into your eyes trying to find the love and attention that they long so much for. From that day on, it was etched in my heart that an orphan child is everybody’s kid.
My story with Corazón de Vida began as a volunteer. Luckily, it was not long before I was able to join the team in 2010. From day one, Corazón de Vida has been more than a job to me. It’s been my life’s purpose. I love arriving to work knowing that everything I do that day - even the smallest tasks - makes an impact in the lives of hundreds of vulnerable children. Everything we do has an unmeasurable value. This makes us work harder, and appreciate every moment, even the most difficult ones. I have gained a family at Corazón de Vida, which has also impacted my family by allowing us to serve. I know my children are better human beings today because they had the Corazon de Vida children in their lives.
I am forever thankful for my Corazón de Vida team because they opened their hearts to let me in and allowed me to grow as a person with them. I am thankful for witnessing love in action every single day. Together, we are creating a better world for hundreds of children and there’s no better feeling in the world than that. Ready for the next ten years!
My name is Araceli and I’m a speech-language pathologist. I was born in Guadalajara, Mexico and I came to the United States when I was 8 years old. During one of my trips to visit family in Guadalajara, I had the opportunity of volunteering at an orphanage. I didn’t know then, that this trip would change my life. After I came home, I couldn’t stop thinking about the children and how little support there is for people with disabilities in Mexico.
So in November 2012, I developed Speaking from the Heart (SFTH), a program designed to provide special education services to children residing in orphanages sponsored by Corazon de Vida. Since SFTH was founded, we have taken over 30 trips to work with children residing in 4 orphanages, hosted donation drives, and provided specialized instruction to over 50 children/young adults. In addition, we started training teachers in special education, and we are hopeful that this will help the children feel supported and understood.
Developing this program was a big undertaking, but I never felt alone, and for that I am very grateful. The moment I shared my vision with others, the support came pouring in and it hasn’t stopped since. This started as an idea, and it has turned into a community of compassionate and loving people who want to make a difference. I started SFTH to empower children to use their voice and to teach them to advocate for themselves, and this continues to be our vision, however, the children have taught us so much over the past 7 years. These beautiful children show us over and over what it means to be resilient, loving, and accepting of others. Their love towards each other and acts of kindness are a testament to all the work and effort of the volunteers, caregivers, directors, and Corazon de Vida. It takes a village, but together we can spread love!
We are proud and overjoyed to celebrate our recent graduates: Elizabeth (Law), Maribel (Marketing), Lourdes (Information Technology) and Alberto (Education).
On Sunday January 26th, 2020, CDV’s Executive Director, Dan Smith, organized an amazing event in Baja to honor the recent graduates from our Continuing Education Program. Over 100 people were in attendance to recognize the accomplishments of these graduates including loved ones, donors, the directors of our supported orphanages and Corazon de Vida's staff. After a delicious lunch, each of the graduates had an opportunity to speak about their life and academic journey including their struggles and how the CDV family helped them overcome each one of them.
Every graduate took the opportunity to express their heartfelt appreciation to all who contributed towards their education. They thanked the orphanage directors who took them in as their own and provided a loving home and encouragement growing up. They also thanked all the incredibly generous sponsors who believed in them since day one. Because of the generosity of many caring and compassionate Angels, Corazon de Vida has been able to shine the light of hope for these students and has allowed them to pursue their dreams.
Our new graduates will now be part of CDV’s Alumni Program aiming to keep graduates in touch with each other and to continue sharing their accomplishments. We invite our graduates to be a part of the CDV family forever, become ambassadors for our mission and always remind each other that where there is love, there is HOPE.
Noche de Gala was truly a night that we will remember in our hearts for years to come. With the sun setting on the historic Hotel del Coronado there couldn’t have been a more spectacular way to celebrate our 25th anniversary of changing the lives of thousands of orphaned and abandoned children throughout the years. With the generous hearts and participation of all of you, we are thrilled to announce that we surpassed all of our attendance and fundraising records to date raising over $260,000 in support of the children!
Words cannot begin to express the gratitude we feel towards each and everyone of you as we look to the future of Corazon de Vida. Today, after 25 years, we are stronger than ever knowing that we have an amazing community standing by our side helping us fulfill our mission to transform the lives of the children of Baja, giving them the opportunities to succeed and empowering them to achieve every dream for many years to come.
A very special thank you to our Main Sponsors Bird Rock Systems, Aeromexico and Mandy and Devin Burstein. To our product sponsors: Ortega's A Mexican Bistro for sponsoring the design and printing of promotional materials, Harumi Floral Design for the beautiful centerpieces, Tahona Mezcaleria, La Reina Raicilla, El Tesoro Tequila and CDV Mission Partner Baja United for the delicious tastings provided at the champagne reception; ChicExecs and Alternative Strategies for all the support with the PR campaign and Chuao Chocolatier for the delicious chocolate treats. Also, to our musicians Sol y Sombra, Sergio D Tala and DJ Alina, and to our team of talented photographers and videographers: Omar Araiza, Julie Ferneau Photography, TJ Sinsay, Reeni Aloha and Aero Perspective. We are also very grateful to the companies and individuals that donated items to our silent auction, your contributions made a huge impact in our fundraising efforts.
We are extremely grateful for our San Diego Chapter, not only for your hard work and commitment leading to the event by inviting your network, securing donations, sponsorships and silent auction items, but also for your love of the children and commitment to Corazon de Vida's mission for the past 6 years! To our amazing Host Committee for working hard for months leading up to the event. To our superstars Masters of Ceremonies Yarel Ramos and Abelardo Rodriguez for working the crowd throughout the night in such a magical way. And to our ever amazing team of hardworking volunteers, none of our events would be possible without your support. Thank you for your love of the children and for believing in our mission.
We are overwhelmed with the increasing support we get each year. We truly believe YOU are the key to our mission. Your loyalty to Corazon de Vida is the reason our children have hope for a better tomorrow. On behalf of the kids, GRACIAS!
Gallery of photos: GALLERY 1 GALLERY 2
We are so grateful for our amazing community who gathered together in support of the children by providing backpacks, school supplies and the much-needed funds to purchase essentials like new uniforms and shoes. The kids can start school feeling proud, prepared, and ready for the new school year! In addition to funds donated directly to the campaign, we allocate a percentage of each our fundraising events to education to cover not only school start-up expenses but also ongoing expenses such as tuitions, transportation, excursions and graduations! Every dollar counts!
We believe that supporting the K-12 education needs for children in the orphanage system and continuing education through college or technical school once they age out of the system, is key to helping them break the cycle of poverty and provides opportunities to create a better future for themselves, their families and their communities. Because of this, our Back to School campaign is one of the most impactful fundraising campaigns of the year.
There is still time to support our education campaign! Help us transform their lives by making a donation to our Back to School campaign HERE
Six years ago, I took a bus trip with the Corazon de Vida organization to visit an orphanage in Tijuana. This one bus trip to Mexico changed the course of my life as a teacher! In anticipation of spending the day with a lot of children at the orphanage, I brought workbooks, flashcards, and other learning materials. I was shocked that, despite all the fun crafts and games that were provided to entertain everyone, a huge crowd of kids ended up at my learning station. As a teacher, I was moved by how much these children actually wanted to learn and how much they craved education. I had not seen such motivation from students in my 15 years of teaching here in the United States.
Upon returning home, I felt an urgent need to do something to provide these kids with greater access to education. I thought about how fortunate the students in my district were to have access to so many learning tools, and how fortunate my tutoring students were to get extra support with their areas of need. I also thought about how most kids, unlike these orphans, end their evenings with a bedtime story from their parents. I had a strong desire to help these kids who were missing out. I researched the education system in Mexico, and became further motivated when I learned that if a child arrives in an orphanage after the school year has begun, they often have to wait a full year before they can return to school. It pained me to know that children in these situations would also be removed from the social and educational resources that school offers. It is unfair that an already difficult experience would also make them fall even further behind in education.
During this time, I was working on my Master’s degree in Special Education. All of my coursework pointed to how important early intervention is to support successful student learning outcomes, making it very clear that I needed to help these children. On another day trip to Baja, I spoke with George, the Director of Corazon de Vida, at length about my desire to help. I told him that my very favorite online learning program, Raz-Kids, offered an extensive library of Spanish books and Spanish literacy resources. I explained how this program would enable the children of Corazon de Vida to read books at their level in both English and in Spanish and I started fundraising for Chromebooks, headphones, and Raz-Kids licenses.
A short time later, the Raz-Kids program was running successfully in several different orphanages, with the help of tutors and with older students acting as mentors/facilitators for the projects. Not only are we providing early intervention for the children within the Corazon de Vida network; we are also giving children access to hundreds of books and a library filled with literacy resources that they otherwise wouldn’t have. This program is also enhancing the children’s computer literacy skills, essential for success in the 21st century. We have even been stunned to observe special needs children, some of whom we thought were non-verbal, learning to read as a result of this program.
By Corazon de Vida volunteer Leah Alagna