By: Melissa Moreno
With the Fourth of July quickly approaching, the topic of independence is sure to be discussed. The Cambridge Dictionary defines independence as:
The word has many meanings and connects with people for different reasons. In a political sense, the word has implications that a country or group of people are receiving freedom from a government or another country. We have seen this happen several times throughout history, with one of the most significant occurrences happening when the 13 Colonies declared independence from Great Britain in 1776 - thus the beginning of the Fourth of July celebration.
The second meaning has more personal and emotional implications that are symbolic of an individual's complete freedom. Someone who has independence can be who they are, say what they want to say, do what they want to do and believe what they want without the influence or command of someone else.
As someone who has a background and understanding of the significance of both implications of the word, I can truly say that independence is something that has affected my life from before the time I was born up until this very day. My family came to this country as immigrants from Colombia to try to build a better life for their children and to give them the independence that they deserved. Not a day passes by that I am not thankful for everything that my grandparents and parents have done to be able to provide me with the opportunity to be independent and build the life that I want in this country.
Valentina Betancur, a fundraising intern here at CBOB, and her family came to the United States after living in Medellín, Colombia.
“Independence to me means having the freedom and the ability to take steps to better your future,” Betancur said. “In Colombia, my family was never been well off - even though most of us are highly educated. The opportunities just weren’t there and that’s why we moved to the United States. Here, we are given a chance; a chance to have a better education; a chance to have a better job. Here, we are given the chance for freedom and independence.”
Children Beyond Our Borders, Inc. was founded on the mission to provide opportunity and education to children in nations with internal conflict. In doing so, our hope is that these children can have the independence and freedom to achieve their dreams. CBOB combines the word's political and personal implications to allow children to find an outlet outside of their nation’s conflict that can give them a way to live their life free of influence and pressure.
We hope you have a great Fourth of July and have fun celebrating this nation’s Independence Day! Stay safe!
Let’s look back to all of what Children Within Our Borders has accomplished as boundaries have been broken as they go beyond borders.
By Karin Fazio
Children Within Our Borders means friendship, growth, community, love, learning, care, and the list goes on and on. CWOB, Children Within Our Borders, is one of the five programs that Children Beyond our Borders, Inc. offers. CWOB has allowed for our organization to connect with children in the Gainesville and Orlando areas and provide them education and empowerment. Each month our outreach team coordinates events and workshops for children and their parents to attend. These events allow our volunteers and interns to form relationships with the kids and give them a sense of community. Shana Call, the Volunteer Coordinator, shares how heartfelt it is when she hears the children say “When are you coming back?” to our volunteers. “It makes everything we do worth it” she states. At CBOB, not only do we make it a goal to provide children with the proper tools and environment to expand their knowledge and flourish, but we strive to supply them with love and support to gain confidence and an understanding of their full potential as individuals.
Get Close Up with CBOB
On Friday, May 26th CWOB gave recently immigrated high school students a glimpse of the beautiful campus of the University of Florida. CWOB partnered with The Close Up Foundation and gave these students and their families tours. Individuals from the Volunteer Internship Program and the UF CBOB Student Chapter took charge as they guided the group throughout the campus and told stories on how the University has impacted them as individuals. “It was great that we could impart just how great our school is to potential applicants!” Says Juan Leon, the Community Outreach Intern.
Honoring Heroes at Home
Baotran Duong, the Community Outreach Intern, along with the UCF CBOB Student Chapter, coordinated this event on May 27th. This event was held on Memorial Day weekend, to honor and remember our fallen soldiers, as well as appreciate our current active military. Children were able to bond with a few of our troops who generously offered to spend their Saturday afternoon with the kids. The kids worked alongside the troops to create cards, as well as craft American flags out of popsicle sticks. After eating a lunch that consisted of mac n cheese, beans, and other delicious foods they brought their athletic abilities to the test in the obstacle course. The kids really seemed to enjoy this part as they ran around and competed against one another to see who can complete the course the quickest. “Seeing the kids smiling and enjoying the event made the preparation and time all worth it.” stated Baotran. These events have given Baotran the chance to be closer to the families and children at the events, since so many of them are recurring participants.
DIY for Dads
In preparation for Father’s Day this year, the community outreach team coordinated the DIY for Dads event in Alachua. Father’s Day only comes once a year, and although dads should be celebrated everyday we wanted to dedicate our June event in Alachua to our hardworking dads. For this event, volunteers and local children gathered together and created gifts for the dads they cherish. The children participated in woodwork by creating a wooden picture frame, they also made a homemade spice grill, and a tie shaped bag to fill with candy. The best part about the entire event was the personalization aspect. The children loved adding their own touch to their special gift for their loved one. DIY for Dads allowed for the kids to make their imagination come to life. “CWOB has been an amazing experience for me, especially since it has allowed me to truly connect with and make a tangible impact on the Alachua community.” explains Juan Leon, the Community Outreach Intern. Juan has had the pleasure of creating events for the community and his favorite memory was this event in particular. He states “These children are kind, creative, and, overall, happy, making every event a joyous experience for all involved. This event was tons of fun, with lots of painting and decorating for the children.”
Summer Science Camp
This summer, our team in Orlando, has organized a special four session camp for the local children. Each session will consist of different experiments relating to science. We’re already halfway through, and the two previous sessions have been a great success! During the first workshop the President of the UCF Chapter, Yanelis Diaz, guided the kids as they learned about blood and anatomy. As for the second session the kids learned about static electricity. Yanelis Diaz started out as a volunteer for CBOB and is now the President of the UCF Chapter, this is her second year involved with CBOB and her second term as President. Yanelis states “Through my volunteering with CWOB I have been able to bond with children that teach me the importance of having confidence day in and out.” Yanelis personally loves seeing the kids complete activities from start to finish and personally overcome difficult instructions. For her, it’s the perfect opportunity to remind the children that no matter what the situation they can overcome it. It’s the little things like those kind of encouraging words that can make a huge impact on the kids.
Seeing the same children at events and seeing them grow as individuals is a rewarding feeling that is indescribable, one of the benefits of being a volunteer with our organization. CWOB provides children personal relationships with volunteers and the other children participating, CWOB gives them someone they can rely on and someone who can be a positive role model for them. CWOB has had a positive impact on everyone in the community including the interns and volunteers. Juan Leon says that CWOB means friends, creativity, and fun and he looks forward to making more memories throughout the summer. All the volunteers are given the opportunity to work alongside other individuals who also share the same passion for educating the children, through this organization they are able to ignite relationships that result in lifelong bonds. Creating special friendships with the volunteers has allowed Yanelis Diaz to grow as a leader, while following a mission so dear to her. She thanks CBOB for helping her be the person she is today.
Children Within Our Borders continues to grow every single day with all of the dedication from our volunteers. It doesn’t take an abundance of money to make an impact on someone and CWOB is the perfect example of that. All it takes is a passionate heart and commitment. It’s one thing to go beyond, but you can’t forget to go within too.
By: Micayla Kinder
With Father’s Day around the corner, some of the Children Beyond Our Borders’ Inc. scholars and staff reflect on lessons learned and memories made with their dads.
This Sunday, families across the country will spend the day celebrating their dads and thanking them for all that they do in honor of Father’s Day. The word father has many different meanings. For some it represents a biological father, for others it may indicate an adoptive father or a father figure who took on the role of a dad. A father is someone who raises a child, someone who nurtures them, guides them throughout their life, supports them and is their number one fan. Children Beyond Our Borders Inc. strives to help children be able to have a future that is bright and filled with possibility and we are grateful for the many fathers who share this vision and have worked hard to empower their children.
IAMCBOB Scholar, Jeison Alexander Orrego Toro, is thankful for the fundamental role that his father, Alexander de Jesús Orrego, has played in his life.
“I am grateful for him sacrificing his youth, for him giving me and my sisters what we needed,” Jeison said. “We have never lacked anything thanks to him. He is the best father of all. He is the most hard-working and persevering person I know, and he’s always striving hard to get what he wants.”
Yosimar Palacios Becerra, is an IAMCBOB scholar who has also learned important lessons from his father, Jose Luis Palacios.
“He has definitely shown me with his example and just with little things, so many lessons in my life, Yosimar said. “I have learned so many values from my father and I am so proud of him.”
Yosimar stated that he is most grateful for his father’s dedication, hard work and patience.
Another IAMCBOB scholar who has a lot to thank his dad for this year is Davian De Jesús Ortíz Velásquez.
Davian had this to say about his dad: “My father has been a fundamental support for my life and for my personal development. He has been a very strict, yet very valuable person in my life. My father is an indescribable person, but I would best describe him as a very enterprising person that is able to face many obstacles that life gives him. Despite so many difficulties, he has always been there for my family and willing to make a life for us.”
Children Beyond Our Borders’ Inc. Executive Director, Andrea Ortega has a special relationship with her father, Jairo Ortega, and sees him not only as her dad, but also as her best friend.
“My dad has been the provider for my family not just financially but also when it came to anything I needed emotionally,” Andrea said. “My dad has always been my best friend even through my crazy teenage years. He's always been understanding and someone I can talk to. The most important thing he has always taught me and supported me by is through education. For as long as I can remember my dad has said go to school, go to school and never stop.”
Andrea has learned important lessons from her father and still uses many of the things she learned from him today.
“He taught me to say sorry,” Andrea said. “While our lives haven't been perfect, I am lucky enough to remember the good things because of his ability to push through and put his love for his family first. He taught me money doesn't mean happiness because even when I think about the times we really struggled when he lost his job when I was like 12, I just remember being able to spend more time with him and still always making my education a priority. ”
Andrea has a lot of great memories with her father and recounted one tradition that her and father began when she was a child.
“There are so many wonderful memories with him, something we did all the way through High School was go to the movies EVERY Friday,” Andrea said. “He taught me family was more important than friends and anything else in life. If he was taking the time out every Friday to be with me, then I should too and it became our little tradition so even if there was a party or something I actually preferred going to the movies because it was with him and spending quality time with those we love.”
Whether you write a card, prepare a meal or make a phone call; be sure to express your gratitude in some way to the man that raised you this Father’s Day. Children Beyond Our Borders Inc. would like to say thank you to all of the wonderful fathers out there who have worked hard to protect, teach, provide for, and empower their children. Happy Father’s Day!
Students in the IAMCBOB scholarship program reflect on how the program has impacted their lives and helped them to reach their goals.
By: Micayla Kinder
IAMCBOB is a scholarship program funded through Children Beyond Our Borders, Inc. that works to give students who face adversity in Colombia the chance to go to college. Colombia has one of the highest levels of social inequality in South America and this program aims to help these young adults pursue their dreams and have the opportunity to be the change they want to see in the world. Scholars receive an all-expense-paid college education, and in exchange act as service leaders to work to give back to their communities. The IAMCBOB scholarship program has been sponsoring five students this past year and has helped one IAMCBOB scholar to graduate! IAMCBOB has also selected five new students to be a part of the program: Andrea Cano, Juliana Cossio, Luisa Maria Bedoya, Yeny Lopez and Valentina Rincon. We are excited to be welcome them to the CBOB family and see them grow throughout their journey in college.
Last month Yosimar Palacios Becerra became the first IAMCBOB scholar to graduate and his life has been changed for the better. Yosimar spoke about how he is incredibly grateful for the IAMCBOB program.
“Being an IAMCBOB scholar has been one of the biggest blessings of my life. CBOB means the world to me and I will forever be grateful to it for changing my life,” Yosimar said. “They have shown me that nothing is impossible in life, and that you should never let anything or anyone stop you from making your dreams come true. If I can make it, everyone can.”
Yosimar went above and beyond his commitments as a scholar and was constantly volunteering with CBOB, putting on workshops and assisting with Bound for Peace trip logistics.
“This has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I started volunteering as CBOB’s trip coordinator in Cartagena arranging hotels, food, excursions, workshops with the children and anything else that the volunteers may need,” Yosimar said. “I have been doing this for the last five years, so it is kind of crazy because I volunteer, work, and go to university, but I love it so there is no pain doing it. I want the best for the community and my dream is that more children will achieve their dreams like I am doing right now.”
Yosimar plans to continue working in the tourism industry and is excited to see what the future holds. He is currently in the United States starting an internship and will be there for three months.
Davian De Jesús Ortíz Velásquez is also an IAMCBOB scholar who has benefitted greatly from the program. Davian is studying Industrial Design in Medellin, Colombia and spoke briefly about his experience with the scholar’s program.
“It has been a wonderful experience since IAMCBOB opened the doors for a new and prosperous future for me,” Davian said. “Now I can get ahead and fight with better tools for my family and for everyone that needs my support. I have learned thousands of things for my personal and collective development.”
Jeison Alexander Orrego Toro, a Civil Engineering Student in Medellin, Colombia, is another IAMCBOB scholar. Jeison hopes to someday work and do a specialization in the United States.
“It has been the most valuable experience of my life,” Jeison said. “Since becoming a part of CBOB, I learn new things every day and I see my dreams get closer. I have met wonderful people and I hope to keep those friendships in my life.”
Jeison stated that though being in college is challenging, he is persevering with the help of those around him.
“The most difficult thing about being in university is leaving important things in your life aside in order to dedicate yourself to studying for exams,” Jeison said. “The university is a valuable and difficult stage in life. Thanks to the support of my family and CBOB, it has been an adventure, but thanks to God I do very well.”
You can become an IAMCBOB sponsor today and change someone’s life by helping them become empowered through education. By contributing any amount for these students you are not only providing them with the opportunity to better themselves, but also equipping them to better their communities and ultimately better the world. Visit www.chbob.org/iamcbob-scholarship to learn more about our IAMCBOB scholarship program and find out how you can become a sponsor.
Join us for this annual event as we create friendships, eat delicious food, and support the local children.
By: Karin Fazio
Mark your calendars for November 4th because Children Beyond Our Borders is holding the biggest CBOB event of the year. The 4th Annual Gala: A Building Block for Education is making its appearance in Orlando, Florida, this time at the Caribe Blu for the very first time. Every year our CBOB family gathers together for this black tie event to celebrate all of our efforts and accomplishments for the year, as well as discuss our vision for the future. Each year our Gala gives opportunities to help shape the lives of the children we serve.
A building block, defined by the Merriam Webster dictionary, is a basic unit from which something is built up. It’s also defined as a component that fits with others to form a whole. Our mission in CBOB is to “provide opportunities for children and youth affected by armed conflict and social injustice to find peace, prosperity and well-being through education and empowerment”. Not only are we providing an education for these children, but we are supplying them with the proper building blocks to achieve that education. Our main in focus is improving our facility for our children in Orlando and Gainesville to have a safe and loving environment to focus on the values the that we teach. With your help we can make this happen. With a small donation you can help us reach our goal.These will serve as a safe space for the children, where their educational needs can be met, a mere building block for them to follow their dreams through education. With the help of our donors, we can continue building our programs into bigger and better resources to encourage our children, who inspire us every single day while they push to expand their knowledge for a brighter future.
Meghana Tatineni, the Event Manager, has been working hard at finding sponsors for this event, as well as entertainment in hopes to make this event enjoyable for all of our hardworking members, as well as all of our supporters. We all at CBOB know that Gala is going to be a success with the efforts of Meghana, those working alongside her, and of course all of our attendees. Our previous Event Manager Carolina De La Rosa, who organized the 2016 Gala event, describes Gala as a “fun, memorable night and a great way to be reminded of what CBOB does for the community, while getting to dine and dance with people that share your love for service”.
Shana Call, our Volunteer Coordinator, says “Gala gave me an opportunity to be surrounded by people with the same mission in mind. It’s a wonderful networking experience. Each year members of the board, interns, managers, and individuals who have a love for CBOB all come together to support what is CBOB.” It is definitely a time to cherish and remember in the future years to come.
If you are new to CBOB and want to get to meet and connect with fellow active members this is the perfect way to do so. Our Mentorship Coordinator, Teagan Murphy, has been involved with CBOB for two years now and has attended the past two Gala events. The 2015 Gala event occurred when Teagan had only been involved with CBOB for a month. “It was a great way for me to see so many people who had been involved with or impacted by CBOB, including but also aside from the interns I worked with regularly” Murphy states.
For the 2016 Gala event, Teagan had now been involved for over a year and felt as if she was reuniting with the CBOB family rather than being introduced, both memorable in different ways. Here, Teagan was able to catch up with managers like our Executive Director and the Director of the Service Trip Program, the interns from other cities, and the girls she volunteered with in Cartagena on a Bound For Peace trip that previous summer. Teagan was rewarded CBOBer of the Year at the event for all of her hard work and was able to reflect back on the year. CBOB is so lucky to have members like Teagan who help achieve our goal and mission and that’s why Gala is such an important event. It allows for everyone to come together and celebrate a cause we all hold very dear to our hearts.
As you can see, the Gala is a wonderful social event for members, but more than anything else it is a night to raise money for our Children Within Our Borders program. Children Within Our Borders works with local children in the Gainesville and Orlando communities. Workshops and tutoring sessions are provided to help the children build not only an education, but confidence to succeed and follow their dreams.
Juanita Buitrago, the Service Trip Program Director, has attended the previous Galas and looks forward to attending every single year. Seeing individuals being highlighted for all of their hard work during the award portion is one of her favorite parts. Every single individual is what makes CBOB what it is today. Just like building blocks we are all individual pieces that comprise of one framework, providing the support and love for the children who fight against social injustice. Every year Gala awards are handed out for volunteers in appreciation of their time, efforts, and passion they put into the organization and the children.
If you are interested in supporting Children Beyond Our Borders by attending this event you can purchase tickets at www.chbob.org/gala.html For more information or on how to sponsor this event please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
With your help we can end the fight against social injustice and change the lives of all of the current and future children involved with Children Beyond Our Borders!