For the Children (Por Los Niños)

In the latest Pulse blog, Isabella Ballesteros, a Miami Country Day Senior, shares her passion in giving back to her community in Colombia, and investing in the education of children in areas with limited education access.
How did the idea for Por Los Ninos begin in your hometown?

I have traveled to Colombia all my life with my parents, mostly to Subachoque, a small town located in the countryside near Bogota and we would always bring small gifts of clothing, books, and school materials to a few kids in the area, I was very young then, but as I grew, I started to get more involved with the children and I noticed the lack of opportunities they had and the positive impact that these small gifts were having on them, so I thought, why not try to do it for more kids? That is how Por Los Niños was born.
 
What supplies do you typically bring or give?

We typically bring school supplies (books, pens, pencils, erasers, journals, crayons, color pencils), dental hygiene items (toothpaste, toothbrushes, and floss), and clothing among others.
 
Elaborate a bit on the library construction project.

The idea of the library was born three years ago when I noticed that elementary schools didn't have books to read, and had wasted spaces that could be transformed into small libraries. Once we choose our next library project, we have our team in Colombia visit the school to see what needs to be done. With this we know how many resources we’ll need. Next, we spend around four months reviewing designs and working on the collection of the donations. At the end of this period we travel to Colombia to put it all together. We spend about a week building, delivering, and working with the children. We hope with time we get better at this process, so we can deliver more libraries every year.
 
What is one success and one struggle that you have encountered over the past couple of years?
 
One of the struggles is not being able to bring all the help and donations we could get to Colombia and having to organize  events over there from the United States.

My biggest success has been to complete and deliver the libraries and to see the enjoyment of the kids reading the books and to have seen in return their love.
 
What perspective did it give you about education equity and access?

That education is the core of any society and it should start with the children, and it should be accessible to all and not a privilege.
 
What are your next steps?

My next step is to create a university scholarship because most of the young people who graduate from high school in the countryside cannot go to college because they do not have the means, and they usually go directly into the workforce to help their families. Our mission is to better the life of the kids and their families and this opportunity, which they don’t have, would certainly fulfill our mission and in most cases bring the first college graduate into these families.
 
Here at Miami Country Day, we are proud of Isabella’s entrepreneurial initiative to give back to her community. Miami Country Day School supports our student entrepreneurs through our I.C.E Initiative program.
 
The I.C.E Initiative exists to help and support students identified as entrepreneurial to catapult their ideas, products and businesses to the next level. To learn more about the I.C.E Initiative, click here.
 
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