By: Jessie Stein
Bound For Peace (BFP) is a service trip program that sends dedicated volunteers to develop workshops for those in need in Latin America. The workshops are meant to better the lives of the kids we work with, as well as better the lives of the volunteers who participate in this incredible service trip. The interactive and educational workshops that we create help strengthen the emotional and social support of youth affected by armed conflict and social injustices. The volunteers on BFP strive to empower and encourage these kids with education and support to help better the lives of kids affected, as well as their own.
To begin, there are multiple trips offered throughout the year for interested individuals to partake in. Students are typically sent over spring break and the summer so it does not interfere with their education. During their time away, volunteers work hard to develop critical reflection and effective communication skills to better facilitate different workshops. Volunteers are also exposed to the country’s culture through different excursions, festivals, events, and more. The trip allows for volunteers to help underprivileged youth, while exploring and understanding the city they have traveled to. It’s extremely important for our volunteers to see a world different than our own, to better understand the hardships these kids are affected by.
Furthermore, we strive to support the development of volunteers so they can further their careers and lives to continue social justice work in whatever they do. Laura Andrea Molinares was a volunteer at our Cartagena trip in 2015, and this trip truly hit home for her since she was born and raised in Barranquilla, Colombia. “Growing up, I witnessed how many people live in impoverished conditions. It wasn’t until I was getting older that I realized the huge gap among socioeconomic classes and how fortunate I was to have the opportunities that I do. The future of my country is my passion, empowering my people to create a better future is something I would love to partake in. Cartagena is close to home and I feel like these are my people and I should help them.” Today, up to one hundred volunteers have traveled with CBOB to Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Colombia since the start of this program. Our focus is to empower these kids and the community through our workshops, while also empowering our volunteers.
In addition, our mission is to support the identity, relational and academic development of youth in Latin America. We train our volunteers extensively before their trips in order to teach them how to create and facilitate these workshops, and to learn effective interpersonal communication skills with fellow volunteers and children. To deepen the volunteers understanding of the city and country, volunteers are trained on the social issues that affect youth in Latin America, such as socioeconomic status, inclusivity of different identities, and cultural awareness and respect. One of our volunteers, Andrea Gonzalez, had the opportunity to travel to Managua, Nicaragua, where she had an incredible experience with the kids we help. “I absolutely loved getting to know the students and everyone involved in the process, really. Realizing the potential of all the students was so eye-opening and actually getting through to them was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Our students want so much for themselves and it was by far one of the most inspiring weeks of my life experiencing that.” We pride ourselves on the children and how impacting their lives, can also better our own. This trip allows for kids to change their future through the encouragement and empowerment in our workshops. Watching them grow in the right direction allows for all of our volunteers to grow as well.
BFP is an incredible service trip aimed at helping youth affected by various conflict and social injustices in Latin America. The dedicated volunteers who participate in these service trips create empowering workshops to educate the kids and help with their overall development and growth. One of our CBOBers, Shanquell Dixon, went on the spring break Cartagena trip last year and is preparing to leave for it again in a few short days! In preparation for the upcoming trip, Shanquell stated, “Now that I am heading back there in a few weeks, and playing a bigger role in this Bound for Peace trip I hope that I can help others have a similar--if not better experience than I did. Lastly, I can't wait to be back with my Colombian friends, and family once again!” We are so eager and excited to see all the good our volunteers do for others, as well as what they learn within themselves.