25 years ago, Corazon de Vida first opened its heart to making a difference in the lives of hundreds of orphaned and abandoned children in Baja, Mexico. It all started with one orphanage, Puerta de Fe, and grew into providing funds and support for 9 more. Over the years we have seen children walk into these orphanages uncertain about their future and have seen that uncertainty transformed into hope when provided the opportunity to live in a safe and nurturing environment. Our mission started with one special woman who knew she wanted to make a difference, our founder Hilda Pacheco-Taylor.
Hilda grew up at Puerta de Fe Orphanage, the place that gave her and her siblings a place to call home. Years after she left the orphanage, Hilda went back to visit and found that the orphanage had lost most of their financial support and was no longer able to sustain the children that were living there. From that day forward, she became determined to give those kids the same opportunities she was provided, and this is where Corazon de Vida’s mission of ending the cycle of poverty, homelessness and abandonment first started.
It is hard to believe that within just a few hours from our California/Mexico border there are people living drastically different lives. It is estimated that there are more than 6,000 kids living in the streets in Baja. Since day one, we have seen a community come together in an effort to provide a better life for the children. There are so many beautiful stories of people practicing compassion and generosity in support of the children: supporters asking for donations instead of presents for their weddings or birthdays, corporate sponsors raising funds and awareness through their products and services, children hosting bake sales, working lemonade stands, and forming high school clubs, athletes running marathons and Ironman events, volunteers joining our trips every month and forming beautiful bonds with the children, and so much more! It may take a village to raise a child but when a whole community comes together, we are able to truly make a lasting impact that sends ripples of change across the border.
With the support of our donors, sponsors, chapters and volunteers, CDV has raised over $13 million in the last 25 years for the everyday needs of the orphanages – food, water, utilities, and for special projects such as facility repairs, construction and upgrades, medical and dental services and more. Knowing that education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty, homelessness and abandonment, a focus on funding education has been a pivotal program for us throughout the years. In 2012, we started funding college and technical school for teens aging out of the orphanage system and to date, twenty students have graduated, forty students are actively attending school and ten students are set to start university this next fall and spring!
CDV is more committed than ever to continuing with our mission. We are profoundly devoted to helping more children and making a bigger impact in their lives. Our journey has only just begun and we know that with our wonderful supporters by our side, we will be able to bring hope and keep transforming the lives of many more children.
We cannot wait to see what these next 25 years have in store for us!
On April 30th, México celebrates Dia del Niño (Children’s Day). On this day, children are recognized as an important part of society and the day focuses on the importance of loving, accepting and appreciating children. Our SD Chapter Managing Director, Amar Harrag, had the amazing idea to organize an extra special trip to visit Rancho de los Niños to celebrate the day.
The children were eager to welcome their new and old friends, as they arrived to the orphanage.They were running everywhere, laughing with one another and playing with the volunteers. Arts and crafts were also part of the fun as everyone made masks and had a great time showing off their masterpieces.
Then it was time to gather in the dining hall for lunch. Everyone filled their plates up with some yummy homemade Mexican dishes. Once they finished, it was time for everyone’s favorite desert: Ice cream! Since the celebration was all about them, the children each had an ice cream cone served with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. What a perfect way to end the day!
A BIG thank you to Amar for organizing the trip and to the volunteers who joined us. You couldn’t have picked a more perfect day to spend some quality time with our beautiful children. You made them feel so special and loved as they should be.
Your donations and participation makes it possible for hundreds of children to live in a safe, positive and loving environment. They can be kids and do what kids do, be happy and carefree, and celebrate Child's Day because you care enough to help!
"I spent hours researching local volunteer opportunities, before I honed in on one. Corazon de Vida is a non-profit organization that supports the well being of orphaned children in Baja, Mexico. I registered online to join an orphanage trip, not really knowing what to expect. I convinced my Mom to join me as well. I read rave reviews of the organization and the trips as a whole, which put me at ease… to an extent. I’ll admit I remained a bit weary of the notion of heading into Mexico...
The young girl beside me, aged 6, was extremely giving and ensured that all the other children around her had what they needed, often offering her supplies to them, before gathering replacements for herself. If she left my side to go grab more supplies, or check on a friend, I’d watch as she would peek over at me and smile so innocently as she made sure I was still there.
As our visit came to an end, the thought of leaving this child behind and going back to the comforts of my home became unsettling. She knew our time together was over for the day when she grabbed me around the neck, and as I picked her up she said in Spanish, “I want you to stay here. I want you to never, never, never leave me.”
The majority of orphans stayed behind as the visitors approached the gate, ready to walk back down the dirt road. But my sweet girl stayed in my arms until I had to reluctantly put her down and make my way back to the bus. She stood at the gate, her tiny hands holding onto the fence as she watched us walk out. I couldn’t just walk away, so I went up to the gate from the outside and we gave each other a kiss through the fence. She quietly stood there watching as we walked away, and I kept turning back to see her until she was gone.
I expected the trip to be worthwhile, eye opening, and a great experience, but I didn’t expect it to be life-changing.
I thought it’d be tough to see the way the children live, but it wasn’t. The orphanage is nicer than I anticipated, well organized, and seemingly has all the basic needs of the children covered. Additionally, the children appear to be surrounded by love and well cared for by the staff and other children. But, it has been truly gut-wrenching since we departed. To have a sweet little girl ask me to never leave her, and to have to leave, crushes me. I think of her there, whether she be happy, sad, or scared, and not having a mother to cradle her, hug her, and give her the one on one devotion that every child deserves. My only goal now is to do all I can for her and the other children, and to let them know how valuable they are and how much they are loved. I’ve always loved children, and I’ve dreamed about being a mother since I was a little girl, but this child took that motherly instinct to an entirely new level. She was so selfless, so innocent, so caring, and all she desired was a little attention and recognition. Not toys, not money, not gadgets – just love.
Before our trip, I commented on a photo posted by the organization, saying I was excited about it. When I got back and checked their social media, I realized who was in the photo. Out of the 10+ orphanages they visit, and out of the 700+ orphans they support, it was those very eyes that found me <3"
To read Breanna's complete story, please visit: http://www.breannaphotos.com/corazon-de-vida/nggallery/thumbnails
This past Memorial Day Weekend we hosted our “Baja Wine Country and Orphanage Weekend Trip” in beautiful Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico
Combining the love of discovering new places and flavors around the world while getting the opportunity to give back creates an experience that becomes life-altering for many people. Valle de Guadalupe in Baja has become an area known as Mexico’s Wine Country. With over 50 wineries and many world-renowned restaurants, the area is also home to three of Corazon de Vida’s supported orphanages and has become the perfect location for a combined vacation/service trip!
There is no better way to immerse yourself in the Corazon de Vida experience than joining one of our weekend trips! The connections you make with the beautiful area of Baja California, the kids living at our supported orphanages and the interactions with your fellow trip participants create memories that will last a lifetime. Our guests enjoyed tastings of some of the most amazing wines of the area, delighted themselves with an incredible dinner at Trevista Vineyards, a boutique vineyard; and most importantly, got to spend time with the children of two of our supported orphanages: Casa de Paz and Rancho El Faro.
Read what some of the participants are saying!
"We went to Mexico and visited an orphanage and did 'Vino’ tour. All the proceeds from the expenses, including lodging benefited the Corazon de Vida Foundation and their sponsored orphanages. WARNING: despite of the good cause, this was a trip filled with fun times and an overload of 'group selfies' see the photos at your own risk” - Shanti Ananda
"A great weekend with my pops and the Corazon de Vida family. It was a fulfilling visit with the orphans of Casa de Paz, El Faro and the university students. Many thanks for the beautiful wine dinner at Trevista, Hilda, George & Daniel!” - Laura Ibarra
"So blessed to watch this beautiful girl grown into such an wonderful young lady. Thank you Arraiza Omar for capturing this moment.” - Shelley Honingbaum
Thank you Omar Arraiza for the beautiful images! Visit the gallery for more pictures of the trip: http://araizamp.smugmug.com/Corazon-De-Vida/May-wine-trip-2015-Corazon-De-