Last January, a group of Corazon de Vida’s University Students visited several schools in Southern California, and spoke about their experiences growing up in an orphanage in Baja. The schools visited included: Washington Elementary School and Redondo Union High School in Redondo Beach, Edison Elementary School in Santa Monica, Buckley School in Studio City, The Wesley School in Valley Village, and De Toledo High School in West Hills.
With the attention of the students, they described their lives being a former orphan and how Corazon de Vida inspired them to continue on with their education, attend college, and helped fund their finances to do so.
The interaction between the local students and CDV’s University students created, not only an eye-opening experience for the kids, but also an educational experience, as several of the schools visited maintained a Dual-Immersion program. The language barrier was not an issue, as the program’s students attempted to understand and speak in Spanish, which was created a pleasant and fun environment for everybody!
Corazon de Vida and the University student speakers concluded the days answering questions and did not leave empty handed! Handmade “Thank You” cards with special notes and drawings were created by the children and given to the speakers, many mentioning how the their presence made them appreciate their own upbringings and how happy they were that our foundation was able to help them break from the cycle of poverty.
We would like the thank all the schools who welcomed Corazon de Vida to speak about our foundation and our University students who were more than willing to share their stories and success with us!
Elizabeth Ontiveros is a compassionate and strong willed woman that grew up in Casa Hogar Ebenezer. Her life there began at the age of eleven after her mother could no longer care for them. Ontiveros’ mother struggled to hold together her family of six; when her boyfriend became abusive she knew she had to make a change. She took Elizabeth and one of her sisters to Ebenezer.
The decision of her mother to place two of her daughters in an orphanage troubled Elizabeth for a long time. As time progressed and her mother stopped seeing them, Elizabeth struggled to come to terms with her place. However, Ontiveros made the best of her situation. Her favorite memory at Ebenezer Orphanage is one of a little girl who would run into her arms for a loving hug. It was growing up at Ebenezer that Ontiveros found her passion to work with children.
Her experiences have shaped her career goals and led her to enroll in college where she is now working on a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources. She wants a professional career that can give her the opportunities to give back to children like those that she grew up with. Ultimately, she wants to find a way to help the orphanage that raised her into the intelligent and compassionate young woman she is today.
Ontiveros has always viewed Corazon de Vida as a lending hand of emotional support for the past 15 years of her life. Without a doubt, she says they have been her biggest support through her childhood. They were the motivation she needed as a child to bring her up when she was down. Her message to the children that come to Corazon de Vida is this: think about others before yourself. She stressed that one should remember to be sensitive of others’ situations. Everyone has a different reason for being there but they all want the same thing: a family. Ontiveros thanks God and the organization for the children she has met whose big hearts welcomed her and gave her a family.
"A child without education, is like a bird without wings" - Tibetan Proverb
Last week was a very important week for the CDV family and for our education program. We were lucky to witness the culmination of one of our student’s Medical School journey and held our annual “Career Day’ at the local university where we had the opportunity to inspire a group of more than 70 teens from five of our supported orphanages that will soon enter college or technical school.
It’s hard to believe how fast time went by. It seems like yesterday when five years ago, a very outgoing and well spoken teen girl stood out of the crowd at one of the first Career Day events, and went straight to the University’s Vice-Chancellor and CDV representatives, asking for support to enter Medical School.
Alin grew up in Estado 29 orphanage and from a very young age, she had a clear dream about her future, she always knew she wanted to be a doctor, although she did not know if her dream would ever become a reality. Alin’s drive and determination was very inspiring for all of us since day one. Corazon de Vida provided the support she needed to make her dream a reality, however, the work, effort and determination was all hers! Alin overcame many obstacles to continue studying, including an unplanned pregnancy. Once again, Alin’s determination proved her unstoppable. She asked her professors for help with a plan for completing all required classes and work through her pregnancy. She was determined to complete her schooling and she did, with some of the highest scores in her class! In an emotional testimonial at Career Day, Alin shared with our prospective students how her desire to not let Corazon de Vida and her sponsors down, she knew her only option was to work harder and not give up!
Seeing her walk to receive her diploma was a very inspiring moment for all. Alin will complete a one-year residency in the state of Colima, and then a year of service in a yet to be determined location.
During Career Day, future generations of university students were able to experience what life in a university campus is like and about some of the careers available to them.
We are grateful to the University of Baja California (UABC) Ensenada Campus and the Science Department for organizing a very informative and interactive event, with a group of science students that traveled all the way from the Mexicali campus and brought interactive Biology, Physics, International Trade and Engineering exhibits to the teens.
Thank you to all the sponsors that believe in and support our mission. We continue changing lives together by investing in the future of our kids, who will generate a positive social and economic impact as future leaders of their communities!