Colombia: Fundacion Viento Fresco Infancia y Familia

Karla Estudillo

Karla Estudillo has lived in California since she was a child, but has always been interested in the world outside of her local bubble. A member of the 2015 graduating class, Karla studied International Development Studies at UCLA and extended her studies to include two minors in Latin American Studies and Anthropology. She hopes to obtain a dual master’s degree in Social Work and Public Health in order to work as a healthcare advisor, serve under-resourced communities, or to travel internationally and help empower communities.  
 
Karla is currently serving in Medellín, Colombia at Fundación Viento Fresco Infancia y Familia (Fresh Wind Children’s Center for Children and Families). Founded 10 years ago, Fundación Viento Fresco aims to serve the underserved and under-resourced community of Niquitao in Medellin, an area plagued by poverty, violence, and prostitution. The organization cares strongly for local youth and has created programs to help parents raise healthy children. They provide 75% of the children’s daily nutritional needs and engage youth through a free soccer program, which offers a healthy hobby and emphasizes the importance of education.  
 

 

At UCLA, Karla learned the importance of service and realized how it can empower people. In Colombia, she prepares classes for the 100 children Viento Fresco serves, helps facilitate soccer tournaments, and builds and provides maintenance to nearby homes. She’s been crucial to the team in translating and organizing transportation to keep Fundación running smoothly. Karla has tutored children in subjects like reading and writing, showing them letters and how to combine them into words. She’s even had the opportunity to work on new systems of sanitation control for the Secretary of Health. If there is one thing to say about her time in Colombia, it is that there has never been a dull moment. Karla has had the chance to meet the enablers of change in Colombia, and she hopes to use that experience to grow her impact on the underserved. Each day brings a new challenge and an opportunity to meet new people.

 

 

Karla plans to use the remainder of her time in Colombia to ensure she leaves lasting, sustainable programs that will continue impacting the community after her departure. In particular, she is working to galvanize a one-on-one tutoring program she helped create to be a reliable resource for school-age children. Karla and one other individual have been working with students to help them practice math and reading skills. While it has only been in place for a month, the program has already shown early signs of success. The children have been grateful that someone has dedicated time to them on an individual basis. They have visibly grown more confident. By working together with these students, Karla has been able to visibly see the impact she’s made. The kids of Viento Fresco have been learning valuable life skills, and they’ve started to realize that their neighborhood has more to offer them. Additionally, parents have begun to change their discipline styles and have become more supportive and encouraging.

 
Service is everywhere. To give back, you may not travel to another country or spend a whole year away. Service is something that can take place every day in any environment. Karla encourages others to take advantage of their spare time to help empower others, leading by example through her work with Viento Fresco.

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