I grew up in a small town called Manizales, Colombia. Growing up, I witnessed extremes of poverty. Some children have no access to clean water, food, or a safe place to live. Seeing this created an impact on me which I have always hand in mind. In 2012, after the birth of my first child, I opened La Piazza Academy – a progressive school with the aim of providing the very best quality education for my own community. We developed a curriculum which nourishes the whole child and received positive feedback from our community. The demand for this program was so high that I opened a second location in 2017.
It was 5 years after opening my school, when I visited Manizales and found myself face to face with the same poverty I witnessed in my youth. Now, however, I had another perspective – these are children just like mine. The only difference between these children, struggling to survive daily, and my own are the circumstances of their birth. Children do not get to choose when or where or to whom they are born. Through the help of family and friends in Manizales, I came across a small school called Jardin Semillitas de Paz. I toured their school and witnessed their dilapidated facilities, lack of materials and understaffed faculty. The stories of these children were heartbreaking, and I could not stop thinking of my own son and daughter. The administration revealed to me that due to a lack of funding, they would need to close the school. This would leave the 40 children who rely on the school for their daily nourishment, learning and recreation without a hope in the world. I knew that I had to be the person to make a difference and help these children – I was put in this position for a reason. At that moment, the seed of La Piazza Foundation was sown. We adopted the school and have been providing funding and teacher training to the faculty since the summer of 2017.
La Piazza Foundation is about more than just one school, one country or one idea. My goal is to partner with as many international schools as possible and help them learn from us as we learn from them. My vision is to give a chance to these children who the world has written off due to their financial circumstances. I want them to not only have access to basic needs, but I want to see them flourish through our program. My hope is that these children can then turn around and further the development of their community and build a future which is kinder, gentler and more compassionate.