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.
Supporting continuing education for teens aging out of the orphanage system is an important program for CDV, as it provides them with the opportunity to create a better future for themselves, their families and their community.
There are currently over 50 students enrolled in either trade school or college who are in the Corazon de Vida Continuing Education program. These students are receiving assistance for tuition, housing, transportation, and living expenses. CDV provides further assistance to students through English courses to supplement their education, and to increase their chances of success in the professional world.
Each student has had their own unique struggles, conquering various obstacles through their own willpower and determination. These are just a few stories from the first wave of graduates supported by CDV’s Continuing Education program.
Isaac came to a Corazon de Vida supported orphanage with his 3 siblings when he was 9-years old. Noted as a handsome and kind-mannered young man, Isaac is graduating from the accounting and finance program at the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California (UABC), Baja’s public university. He pursued accounting/finance because of the job opportunities that would be available to him. He says that his degree will allow him to help his family and others so that he might make a difference in his community. Isaac has worked as a barber on the weekends throughout his schooling to help earn funds for his expenses.
Isaac recently completed an internship with and has the opportunity to work for the prestigious firm Deloitte, a firm that provides industry-leading audit, consulting, tax, and advisory services to many of the world's most admired brands, including 80% of the companies on the Fortune 500!
Cecilia was abandoned by her parents in her early teens, after years of abuse and neglect. With nowhere to go, she admitted herself into an orphanage for her own safety, and ultimately to get an education. After high school, Ceci entered the UABC Ensenada campus, working hard to obtain her degree while working just as hard to support herself. Ceci just recently obtained her degree in psychology, and hopes to assist others in the same way that she was supported.
"When I was at the orphanage, there was a need for us to talk about our lives, to get help, but no one was listening. I decided to get a psychology degree to one day return, listen, and help children living in orphanages. I was one of them. I know what they are going through".
Ceci received her U.S. Visa with the help of Corazon de Vida and frequently attends our events as a perfect example of what can be done with a helping hand.
Karla and her younger sister were taken from their home and placed at a CDV supported orphanage where they lived for 8 years. Karla, understanding the value of education in her own life, has just completed the Marketing program at UABC Tijuana.
Her dream is to become a business owner, having the means to support her family while also being able to give back to her community. A deep thinker, Karla specializes in virtues such as Listening, Perseverance, and Patience.
Jaqueline grew up in an orphanage in Maneadero. Jaqueline entered our program after she had already completed her first two years of UABC nursing school through the support of a local family that was not able to continue their support. Jaque’s grades were exceptional and she is a very dedicated student. With CDV’s financial and moral support, she has been able to graduate with a degree in nursing and will soon start her one-year of service. At her graduation, Jaque presented her Corazon de Vida family with a beautiful plaque with a touching inscription:
“For all the help you have provided during my academic formation. Because in the most difficult moments, you encouraged me to continue, and you believed in me. My success and my love are yours.”
It is only through the help of our community of loving and generous individuals that these stories are possible. Together we are changing the odds for hundreds of children like Isaac, Jaque, Karla, and Cecilia. With hundreds of children still relying on our life-sustaining support, donations are essential to ensuring not only their survival, but also their future success as productive members of their community.
Thank you for all that you do! Let us continue to do even more for the orphaned children of Baja. Please click on this link to support our Continuing Education program: http://tinyurl.com/cdveducation