This past weekend I went to Tijuana to visit three different orphanages with Corazon de Vida. Corazon de Vida is a for-purpose organization providing life-changing support to orphaned and abandoned children in Baja.

I’ve heard about Corazon de Vida through the network I’ve developed from running a blog about Baja California. However, after spending a day with one of their board members, George, and touring a few of the orphanages they fund, the organization took on a whole new meaning.

There was a group of five of us plus George and we all met at Starbucks near the Otay Mesa border crossing. George suggested we bring goods to support the basic needs of the children, things like toilet paper, shampoo, razors, and laundry detergent. We were advised not to bring clothing and toys because those are donated all too often and Corazon de Vida is focused on providing basic needs.

The three orphanages we visited were Casa Hogar Hacienda, Los Angelitos, and La Esperanza. Their locations are scattered throughout Tijuana and the number of children in each home ranges from 15 to 45. There is another orphanage they support, Rancho de los Niños, that has nearly 100 children in the home. The founder of Corazon de Vida, Hilda Pacheco-Taylor, was a child at that home and now lives in Orange County and has a vineyard in Valle de Guadalupe, Trevista.

There were so many amazing things about each visit, so I’ll just start writing about them in no particular order:

Staff

If you’re one of those people that think there aren’t any good people left in the world, think again, because they are here in Tijuana at these orphanages. There are women working 12+ hour days doing laundry. Just laundry. Cooks cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner for 45 children… everyday! Someone needs to get these kids to school. Someone needs to ensure they are doing their homework. These are people are dedicated to providing the children a daily structure they would not have otherwise.
At Casa Hogar Hacienda, the directors (and really the mother and father figures), Emma and Juan Villagran, commute from San Bernardino every week where they spend five days living in the home and the other two in San Bernardino.

Education

Every child at the ten or so orphanages funded by Corazon de Vida goes to public or private school and then on to college or trade school. When they are admitted to college or trade school, they receive a laptop. The weekend we went down, Corazon de Vida saw their first law graduate. They have a student in dental school. After our three orphanage visits, we met Karen, a 22-year old girl who had lived in one of the homes and is now in school for Industrial Engineering.
At first when George was explaining all of this to us, I almost didn’t believe it. But what this tells me is that the money raised by the organization is put to pheneomal use, and in my opinion, the best use. Corazon de Vida is creating a real future for these children by giving them the priceless opportunity of education.

Sustainability

One of the orphanages that really stood out to me was La Esperanza. We met Martin Hernandez, an impressive young man (impressive being an understatement) who lived at the orphanage as a child and now manages the orphanage with his wife. Martin gave us a tour of the grounds and explained some of the history and projects they have going on. La Esperanza has a massive garden where the children of the home can learn to grow and harvest their own food. There were fruit trees everywhere! We took a look inside their workshop and saw a wood stained picnic table made by some of the boys of the home. Martin also mentioned the recently installed solar panels (courtesy of Corazon de Vida) reducing their electric bill by 95%.
Corazon de Vida has installed solar panels at every single one of the orphanages they fund.

I learned a lot during this visit. I never knew that the Mexican government provides zero support for orphanages throughout the state. Without organizations like Corazon de Vida, these children would have no home or education. Their future can be bright with Corazon de Vida and I think it’s important to talk about it. Supporting Corazon de Vida directly changes the lives of these children — I saw it firsthand!

How can you help?

Corazon de Via needs:

  • New Laptops or All In One Desktop Computers
  • Heavy Duty Washing Machines @ $700 ea.

If you’re visiting Baja, stay at this home! Enjoy a beachfront Baja 4 bedroom / 5 bathroom house and help kids at the same time.

And other (EASY) ways to help:

  • Baby dorm fundraising at the Casa Hogar Sion Orphanage > CLICK HERE
  • Amazon Smile Program, 0.5% of your purchase to Corazon de Vida > CLICK HERE
  • Birthday Fundraising, instead of gifts, help feed the children > CLICK HERE for example
  • Ralphs Community Rewards, buy your groceries at Ralphs, help feed children > CLICK HERE