Semana Mundial de Huérfanos – el Septimo Día

A la petición de mi gran amiga, Neida Sandoval, aquí esta la traducción del artículo del 5 de marzo del 2013. Que lo gozen!

Hoy día el septimo día de la Semana Mundial de Huérfanos, estoy honrando a Neida Sandoval. ¿Quién no conoce Neida Sandoval? Ella es una de los líderes mas conocidas en la comunidad de Miami y una de las personalidades más queridas en el mundo del periodismo hispana en los EE.UU, así como en América Latina. Ella tiene más de 30 años de experiencia como periodista y ha ganado numerosos premios por su inquebrantable dedicación y labor filantrópica incansable. Nació en el pintoresco pueblo de Las Minas de Oro, Honduras. Ella es conocida por su brillante inteligencia, determinación, carisma y transparencia, tanto en su carrera profesional, los esfuerzos humanitarios y como dedicada esposa y madre de sus adorables gemelos, Abito y Ali.

Nunca olvidaré el día en que conocí a Neida. Mi padre, Edward Cornely se enamoró de Honduras y en 1970 trasladó a nuestra familia a San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Mi inquieto Papi siempre anduvo en la busqueda de aventuras y era amigo de los padres de Neida. Los fines de semana mi Papi nos montaba a mi hermano, mi hermana y yo en su jeepeta estilo militar y nos llevaba a pasear por el campo Hondureño. Un fin de semana nos llevó a una expedición de lavado de oro en el pueblito de Las Minas de Oro. Nos detuvimos junto a la casa de Neida, mientras que ella (la chica solitaria) jugaba con sus hermanos mayores. Ella me miró y me saludó y yo la saludi desde la parte trasera del jeep. No sabíamos en ese entonces que íbamos a terminar siendo compañeras en el Colegio La Mision Evangelica. Y poco sabiamos que las dos compartiamos una pasión secreta que se quedaría con nosotros para siempre: El cuidado de los huérfanos. Sólo descubrimos nuestra mutua pasión por los niños abandonados un par de años atrás. Neida nunca supo que yo me paseaba por las calles de San Pedro Sula en busca de niños desamparados. Yo les llevaba comida y ropa. Algunos me los llevaba conmigo a la casa, para el gran disgusto de mi padre. Inclusive me lleve a algunos de ellos a nuestro orfanato local. Pero me entere de que se habían escapados cuando me los encontraba el dia siguiente rumbando nuevamente por la circumbalacion. Yo no era la unica adolescente haciendo estas obras de caridad en San Pedro Sula. Tambien Karl Henry Holtz y Jacqueline Diday eran mis colegas en el cuidado de los niños desamparados de San Pedro Sula.

Obras de caridad y en particular orfelinatos se han convertido en una de las mayores metas y pasiones de Neida. Cuando yo era la Presidenta de Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos (Region Sur de EE.UU.), Neida fue la anfitrióna de honor de ceremonias para nuestro “All the World to One Child” Fiesta Gala. Sus obras de caridad y filantrópicas son varias incluyendo a la Fundación Teletón para los niños con desabilidades, la Casa Renacer, Fundación Amor y Vida (refugios para las personas que viven con SIDA) y Saint Jude Research Hospital. A través de los años Neida ha contribuido activamente y ha participado junto a otros artistas para recaudir millones de dólares para combatir el hambre infantil. Justo el año pasado Neida fue nombrada como la Embajadora Oficial de las Aldeas SOS de Niños en Honduras. En su nuevo papel como Embajadora de SOS ella ha sido instrumental en recaudir dinero, así como tambien donaciones de electro domesticos para las Aldeas SOS de Honduras.

Neida, le doy gracias a Dios que tu y yo continuamos en esta gran aventura que se llama la vida, como amigas y almas gemelas. Que nuestros caminos sigan cruzando, Conectando Gente, Transformando VidasSosteniendo y Superando a la Humanidad.

World Orphan Week – Day 5

Cesar R. Nuñez is the philanthropist being honored today, the 5th day of World Orphan Week.

Interestingly enough today’s honoree is also from Honduras. Cesar was born in Tegucigalpa and moved to the United States with his mother in 1986. He is a Photojournalist, Producer, Director and Filmmaker extraordinaire. Over the years Cesar has covered thousands of stories all over Latin America and the Caribbean. During his trips his heart strings were forever being pulled every time he saw a child in need looking through the garbage for something to eat. A stark reminder of Cesar’s childhood days. No, Cesar is not an orphan. On the contrary Cesar was blessed to have been raised with his 7 siblings by a doting mother and loving father. No lack of love in his household, just the lack of food and basic essentials. Cesar marveled at dinner time and always wondered how his parents were able to put food on the table. They were beyond poor, they were destitute. Cesar used to comb the city dump and garbage cans in search of anything he could sell. He became known as the little bottle boy as he went door to door trying to sell bottles he found at the dump so he could help his parents provide food & school supplies for his brothers and sisters.

Riveting images of hungry children haunted Cesar throughout his travels and prompted him to come up with a plan. From 1992 up to 1998 Cesar had already helped 500 orphans receive proper care. Cesar scrimped and saved and in 1998 he provided the seed money to launch Angels Helping Angels along with the sweat equity that was provided by Cesar’s beloved brother. Angels Helping Answers is a volunteer based non profit. All of the money raised goes to help children in need. With the help of family and friends Angels Helping Angels has provided countless donations and emergency supplies for children in need and countries in crisis.

Over the past 25 years Cesar has volunteered countless hours of his time to the Red Cross, Boy Scouts of America, Honduras World Foundation, Brothers to the Rescue, Smile of a Child among other non profits. All the while he also managed to forge a successful TV career at Univision, CBS 4 and the City of Miami. He is a five times Academy Emmy Award Winner with 14 nominations in the television industry. Many of Cesar’s award winning documentaries are about life safety matters and the plight of orphaned and abandoned children. I was blessed to have watched one of his documentaries and learned that a hammer can save your life if your car ends up in a canal. Miami is full of canals and our roads are slippery when it rains. It rains a lot in Miami and one never knows. To this day, thanks to Cesar, I keep a hammer under my driver’s seat.

My hat is off to you Cesar for your many years of outstanding achievements and for your tireless dedication to helping save lives and helping children in need.

Stay tuned to for Cesar’s YouTube Debut which is coming soon. His life saving videos are a must see!

World Orphan Week – Day 2

Today, the second day of World Orphan Week I am honoring Neida Sandoval. Who does not know Neida Sandoval? She is one of Miami’s most beloved community leaders and personalities in Hispanic broadcasting in the US as well as in Latin America. She has over 30 years of experience in journalism and has won many awards and accolades for her unwavering dedication and tireless philanthropic work. She was born in the picturesque town of Las Minas de Oro, Honduras. She is known for her brilliant wit, determination, charisma and transparency, both in her professional career, humanitarian efforts and as a dedicated loving wife and mother of two vivacious twins, Abito and Ali.

I will never forget the first day I met Neida. My father, Edward Cornely fell in love with Honduras and eventually relocated our family to San Pedro Sula, Honduras in 1970. My adventure seeking father was friends with Neidas parents. On weekends he would load my brother, sister and I into his supped-up jeep and whisk us around the Honduran countryside. One weekend he took us on a gold panning expedition in Las Minas de Oro. We pulled up next to Neida’s house while she was the lone little girl playing with her entourage of big brothers. She looked at me and I waved back at her from the rear of the jeep. Little did we know back then that we would end up going to highschool together. And little did we know that we each shared a secret passion that would remain with us for life. Caring for orphans. We only discovered each other’s passion for abandoned children a couple of years ago. Neida never knew that I used to canvas the community of San Pedro Sula in search of street children. I would bring them food and clothes. Some, I would bring home with me; to the chagrin of my father! I even took some of these children to our local orphanage only to have them escape as I would soon find them back on the streets. I was not the only teen doing this in San Pedro Sula. Karl Henry Holtz and Jacqueline Diday were two of my co-conspirators and partners in caring for the homeless street children of San Pedro Sula.

Charity work and in particular orphan outreach has become one of Neida’s greatest passions in life. While I was the Chair of the Friends of the Orphans Southeastern Region, Neida was the honorary host of ceremonies for our All the World to One Child Gala Event. Her charity work is ongoing as she continues contributing to a host of several philanthropic causes, including the “Fundación Teletón” for disabled children, the “Casa Renacer”, “Fundación Amor y Vida” shelters for people living with HIV/AIDS and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Over the years she has actively contributed and participated alongside other artists and celebrities and has raised millions of dollars to combat childhood hunger and for the United Nation’s
World Food Program
. Just last year Neida was made the Ambassador for the SOS Villages of Children in Honduras. In her new role as SOS Ambassador she has been instrumental in securing money as well as in-kind donations for the SOS Villages of Honduras.

Neida, I thank my lucky stars as we continue on this miraculous journey called life as friends and kindred spirits. May our paths continue intertwining, Connecting People, Transforming Lives… Bridging Humanity.

World Orphan Week

Yes, today March 4, 2013 is the beginning of World Orphan Week. Are you an orphan? Do you know an orphan? For World Orphan Week let us all lend our collective voices & honor the orphans we know. Let us also honor the young leaders who are taking action & doing something about the plight of the world’s orphans. Here are some statistics that will better help you get your head around this important subject matter. In 2008 UNICEF conducted a survey & determined there were 143,000,000 orphans in the world. They also said that by 2015 there could be 500,000,000 orphans world-wide. In 2012 the world census said there were 315,421,266 people living in the US. Therefore, by 2015 there could potentially be twice the size of the population of the US in orphans across the globe. Simply mind boggling. What are you going to do about this? An important question that begs an answer. Share your thoughts with us & help us spread the word about the status of orphans.

Today on the first day of World Orphan Week I am honoring 17 year old Alejandro Ernst and 16 year old Neha Gupta. I was deeply touched when I learned how these two young individuals were going over and beyond and making a huge difference in the lives of orphaned children.

Alejandro’s work with orphans began when he was 14 years old. It all started when he embarked on a school summer volunteer trip that took him on a transatlantic voyage to an orphanage located in Bamako, Mali. With 13 donation-filled-to-the-hilt duffle bags in tow Alejandro managed to navigate multiple airports in multiple languages. Not an easy feat. Alejandro and some of his fellow students volunteered for the summer at the Orphelinat Niaber. During his time there Alejandro bonded with the Founder, Bibi Sangho & promised her he would continue to help her and the babies after he left. True to his word Alejandro has continued his efforts to help these vulnerable children. To date he has baked over 2500 empanadas to raise money for the orphanage.

Neha got involved with orphans at the age of 9. She received her calling because her family followed a long standing tradition of celebrating their respective family member’s birthdays by taking food and gifts to orphaned children from their family’s home town in India. Young Neha realized that these children had no one to love them or help them. No one to make sure they received an education. That day she decided she had to do something and she immediately went into action. At that moment she decided that she would be the person who would love these children and would make sure they would receive the education they deserved.

Neha has raised more than $1,000,000 thus far and has helped many communities in the US and abroad. The bulk of the funds were raised by making and selling wine charms at community events, through friends and family, and by going door to door in various neighborhoods. Her wine charms cost $5. Alejandro’s empanadas cost $2. Made by hand, made with love, by children for children.

May their stories serve to inspire us to care more, persevere more and do more. And may all of the unsung heroes who go over and beyond like Alejandro and Neha receive their rightful praise and due.

Kudos Alejandro. Kudos Neha. I am proud beyond words.

Why are there so many orphans in the world?

A harsh question that begs an answer so we can do something to address this ever growing problem. Over the years I have visited many orphanages across the globe and have learned some of the reasons why we have so many orphans. My ever inquisitive mind wanted to better understand the “why” so I could learn how best to help. Through research and first hand knowledge I began to understand that the reasons are varied. I decided to create a video presentation of my findings. My hope is that by providing insights and statistics others can learn how to prevent this from happening and others can learn what they can do to help a child in need. I welcome you to to take a look at my video titled “Why are there so many orphans in the world?” [youtube][/youtube]

Status of War Torn Mali

Orphelinat Niaber

Bamako Mali, a country that once prided itself as being one of the most progressive nations in the African continent is in a sad state of affairs today. While I was there during the coup d’etat of June of 2012 I was able to witness first hand the ramifications of an ongoing political tug of war. The parliaments and governmental offices located in the capital of Bamako are all on the same side of the Niger river. Access to this area is restricted by 3 bridges. The ousted government in a tit for tat retaliation countered by closing all three bridges after everyone left their offices during their lunch break. No one was allowed back until the next day. Upon arrival they discovered that all of their computers, servers and documents were GONE. All legal documents, records, deeds, land titles, you name it, were also GONE. Fast forward to 7 months when the French government decided to intervene and help its former colony. Getting emergency supplies into Mali has been difficult throughout the ongoing civil war. Even now with the French forces on the ground in Mali it is still very difficult to get supplies to the needy. We have been sending money via western union to the orphanages we support. Another non profit has figured out a way to get supplies to the needy safely by partnering with local NGOs GRAT (Groupe de Recherche et d’Applications Techniques) and APH (Actions de Promotion Humaine). So far they have been able to get food to 50,000 people. Bravo! What a smart move to partner with local teams on the ground. This is indeed the safest solution as the locals are better equipped to navigate throughout the country, in unmarked vehicles and without drawing attention to themselves. Hopefully, some of our larger non profits will learn from their example and be able to do the same in Syria as well as other countries in need.

Haiti February 2010 – One Month After the Earthquake

This is an image taken by renowned photographer Patrick Farrell. Patrick Farrell was one of the first responders to enter Haiti after the massive earthquate of 2010. The devastation he saw left an indelible impression on Patrick. He returned a month following the earthquake and took this picture of children playing jump rope at the Leogane tent city located near Port au Prince, Haiti. To this very day tent cities still remain in Haiti. One of our projects is to show tent dwellers how to repair their hole ridden tents by fusing found plastic bags to their tarps. This simple, cost effective approach also helps reduce plastic garbage bag litter from the streets.

Haitian School Buildings Collapse – the Aftermath

Patrick Farrell

Tent Cities and Tent Schools littered the Haitian landscape. Shortly after the devastating earthquake of 2010 schools slowly started to reopen. Unfortunately the ensuing tremors caused many of these schools to collapse. A harsh lesson was learned and Tent Schools quickly became the norm. This is image was taken by renowned photographer Patrick Farrell. Patrick was one of the few photographers who visited Haiti immediately after the devastating earthquake of January 2010. Fortunately for us his photographs captured the devastation that helped rivet the world into action.

Bridging Humanity Visits Haitian NGO Rebuild Globally

We visited the Haitian based REBUILD Globally in April of 2012. David Lawrence introduced us to the founder, Julie Colombino at a Haitian benefit held at his home. Julie’s story is truly amazing. Julie is a young woman from Orlando, Florida. After the Haitian earthquake in January of 2010, Julie could not sit by idlely and watch the tragedies unfold on her TV screen. She decided to take action and sold everything she owned and jumped on the first flight to Haiti. She did not know how she would help only that she needed to do something to alleviate the pain and suffering of the Haitian people. Julie braved the homeless masses by inviting them to come and live in a warehouse that was provided to a group of foreign non profits who came to help out. Not knowing what to do with her newly adopted family of homeless Haitians she asked them to comb the streets for debris and trash they could retrofit into something useful. They brought back used tires. After a few trial runs they started making sandals out of tires. Julie eventually went on form Rebuild Globally and was able to secure a better location for her team in Tabare. Their hand made sandals are currently available through their website Julie’s organization is a model template for other NGOs to learn from. They harvest rain water and recently created a perma culture garden. They also have 3 egg producing chickens. Their next big project towards becoming more self sufficient is to build a tilapia pond.

While we visited Rebuild Globally we conducted classes on site and showed them how to make other useful items out of trash. We showed their team how to make beautiful collaged vases out of discarded bottles and how to fuse garbage bags found on the streets to make draw string bags for shipping their sandals. We even showed a young homeless boy named Carlos how to repair his hole ridden tent by sandwiching his tent in between garbage bags and then fusing them together with an iron.

We learned a lot from Julie and her team at Rebuild Globally and have shared their success stories and lessons with other NGOs under our purview.

We are looking forward to our next follow-up trip to Haiti where we will show team Rebuild Globally how to plant fast growing bamboo and produce eco efficient coal. They can also use their home grown bamboo to make fishing poles and other useful items. Operation Mending and Ending Deforestation is under way!

Great job team Rebuild Globally! We look forward to seeing you next year!!!