Gina Castaño who is on the board of directors for Children Beyond Our Borders, Inc. traveled to Popayan, Colombia, this past December to spend time with her family and spread the CBOB mission.
When Gina heard about the toy drive that CBOB was coordinating through Children Within Our Borders for the at-risk youth in Central Florida, she jumped at the opportunity to help bring this toy drive to Colombia. She placed collection boxes at the gyms where she teaches Zumba and her father’s office. She collected over 120 toys, which were distributed in Hospital Universitario San Jose, a public hospital in downtown Popayan.
“Popayan is a very small, Spanish-colonial town where my mom grew up and her family resides. Popayan is breathtakingly beautiful, yet it has a lot of poverty. I made the toy distribution a voluntary activity for my cousins and anyone else who wanted to join me. My sister, her boyfriend, my parents, and two of my cousins came with me to distribute the toys. The children we visited come from very humble families and were delighted and overjoyed to be receiving toys! It was a remarkable experience,” Gina said.
Gina joined the Children Beyond Our Borders family her freshman year at the University of Florida in 2009. She instantly fell in love with the the mission and vision of CBOB, while also being able to give back to her homeland, Colombia. Gina’s passion and dedication to CBOB has been unwavering since she joined in 2009. She once served as the President of the University of Florida student chapter. She even led a Bound For Peace trip to Cartagena in 2014, which is one of her most treasured memories.
“I was born in Cali, Colombia. I am proud to have been born there and to still consider Colombia my home! I am very blessed and grateful for all the opportunities I have been given here in the States, but Colombia calls to me in a way no other place has or will. There's something enchanting about my native land that attracts me to her time after time. I make it a plan to go back at least once a year, but if I could, I would make several trips throughout the year. My next trip to Colombia will be again, with CBOB and BFP this coming summer, and then I am planning on backpacking through cities I have yet to visit. My one suggestion to all: place all fabricated misconceptions about Colombia aside and experience it for yourself. You will be surprised at how much you will fall in love with its people, flavors, colors, and overall ability to make you smile,” said Gina.
Gina is currently pursuing a dual Master’s in Nonprofit Management and Public Administration at the University of Central Florida, so she can apply what she is learning to help CBOB grow and flourish.
Thank you, Gina, for all the wonderful work that you do!