Happy Birthday to US!
By Lauren Visco
This month we are excited to celebrate our anniversary! Thirteen years ago we started our fight against social injustice. What started with the love and passion of students from the University of Florida who wanted to give back to their homeland of Colombia, has grown and blossomed into something they could have only dreamed of. We continue to work with those in Colombia affected by the scars of the nation’s internal conflict, but through our passion have been able to expand our mission beyond Colombia. Children Beyond Our Borders has been able to extend its reach on a global scale by now serving children in Ecuador, Nicaragua and more cities in Colombia. Our expansion in Latin America inspired us to look to our communities and begin our work right here at home, serving Gainesville, Tallahassee, and Orlando.
In the last three years we have gone from one program to five! What started off as Crossing Borders has now turned into Bound for Peace, our service trip program that sends volunteers to develop workshops for youth in Latin America. One program that has grown out of our need to do more has been our very successful Volunteer Internship Program (VIP). VIP is made for people from all walks of life who want to give back to the communities they are passionate about. This program has grown so much since its beginnings in 2013 with only 4 applicants to over 80 last year, and even more expected this year!
Through the years we have also been able to bring our fight against social injustice to our local communities, with the implementation of our newest program, Children Within Our Borders (CWOB). CWOB has been a blessing to our community not only because of the children it serves, but the opportunities it has opened up for our chapters across the State of Florida. From a program that started with four students at UF, Children Beyond Our Borders student chapters can now be found at: University of Florida, University of Central Florida, and Florida State University.
We are also so proud of the installment of our scholarship program. IAMCBOB is our scholarship program for 5 students who demonstrate a strong desire to acquire a higher education, to attend college all-expenses paid. With this scholarship program we are able to help students break the cycle of poverty. Our very first graduate of this program was Yosimar! Yosimar studied Hospitality and Tourism in Cartagena, Colombia. The benefit of this scholarship can best be described by Yosimar’s own words “I want to study at a university because it will open the door to many opportunities. Studying there will allow me to be better prepared to live in this world and face the many challenges the world brings.”
Over 13 years our love and passion for bettering the lives of children everywhere continues to grow. On this celebratory month we remember and give thanks to those who started it all: Angelica Suarez, Luis Felipe Garcia, Oscar Trujillo, and Liliana Bustamante.
Thank you to everyone who has been on this 13-year journey with us, we are looking forward to the many more years to come.