(October 2017) Foundation 4Life partnered with SOS Children’s Villages to establish the first Foundation 4Life Legacy Center in Bogota, Colombia. The center opened its doors on July 26 after an open house, ribbon-cutting ceremony, and presentations by SOS Children’s Villages Colombia National Director Angela Rosales, Vice President of Service Catherine Larsen, Platinum International Diamond Yadira Olivo, Colombia General Manager Nao Lau, and one of the SOS Children’s Villages participants, Gabriela.
SOS Children’s Villages is an international organization that builds families for orphaned, abandoned, and other vulnerable children across 135 countries, including Colombia. In doing so, the organization ensures every child has the support and care he or she needs to grow, thrive, and lead a fulfilling life.
In Colombia, the work SOS Children’s Villages does is incredibly important. More than 18 million children live in Colombia, and almost a third of the population lives in poverty. 1 SOS Children’s Villages addresses their needs through 10 programs across the country that reach 15,000 children, young people, and family members. The Foundation 4Life Legacy Center is an excellent example of the great work being done to support the country’s most vulnerable communities.
Catherine said, “At first, I thought this center was just classrooms full of computers, but once I met the children and the staff members, I realized that it’s so much more. This is a place for children with zero opportunities to come and flourish. The truly exciting part happens when those same children go on to help others. When children are strengthened, they strengthen others.”
The center helps orphaned, abandoned, and vulnerable youth like Luis and Gabriela. Luis was moved from one institution to another until he finally arrived to SOS Colombia. There, he discovered a love for math, graduated from high school, and started attending college. He shares his appreciation for the opportunities he’s received by tutoring children at the Legacy Center and teaching high school courses.
“All of the kids mentioned how much they love Luis,” Catherine commented. “He exemplifies why we created the Legacy Center. By completely changing his life, Luis can help others do the same.”
Gabriela, who was unable to stay with her family after her mother passed away, struggled until she found SOS Children’s Villages. She discovered a passion for journalism and recently interviewed Colombia’s president, Juan Manuel Santos. Gabriela wants to help others by telling the stories of people in her community who are working to improve their lives. “My SOS Family has taught me to be better every day,” Gabriela said. “Because of them, I participated in the robotics and communications group, which allowed me to work with a team, challenge my mind, and develop skills for a professional life. Today, I am very happy and I am so thankful for the partnership between SOS Children's Villages and Foundation 4Life. They made all of this possible.”
In the Legacy Center, thousands of children and young people will have access to opportunities that will help them realize their full potential. In addition, families at risk of falling apart will receive support that will help their families stay together. The support they will obtain will give them the tools and parenting skills to help raise their children with love, respect and security.
The center itself has classrooms where youth learn marketable skills in communications and journalism, robotics, and mobile app development. In the Salón de Tecnología, youth learn to build and program robots. In the Salón de Actividades, families can attend classes to improve parenting abilities, learn life skills, and receive counseling. Children can also come with their parents to the Salón de Juegos para Niños to relax and enjoy themselves.
“The real magic of the Legacy Center is what happens inside of the rooms,” Catherine said. “The staff members care so much about the kids and families. They see them for who they truly are—people with great potential who not only thrive on love but also thrive on loving others.”
SOS Children’s Villages previously owned the building and renovated it with generous donations from Foundation 4Life and Platinum International Diamonds Yadira Olivo, Juan and Damaris Rosado, and Ángel Molina and Ivelisse López.
“It’s great to contribute money, but we also need to participate in service projects,” Yadira said. “We need to see the faces, the hearts, and the smiles of children who not only need the monetary contribution but also the love, appreciation, and affection that we can provide for them.”
The ribbon-cutting ceremony was a successful event, thanks to the support of 4Life Colombia staff members, Foundation 4Life representatives, SOS Children’s Villages Colombia staff members, and SOS Children’s Villages United States staff members.
Other distributor leaders in attendance included Gold International Diamonds Giovanni and Sandra Perotti. Other 4Life employees in attendance included Colombia Logistics Manager Ángel Rincón and Colombia Marketing and Commercial Manager Mónica Salas.
Foundation 4Life hopes to open more Legacy Centers across the world.