The issue of child abuse, neglect and abandonment is a world wide issue. According to the UN over 150 million children are abandoned and living on the streets worldwide. In Northern Baja’s area of Mexico alone, over 6,000 children live on the streets or under dangerous/abusive situations, and thousands more live in extreme poverty. Mexico currently does not have the social programs that we have in the U.S., no foster care programs, no welfare system, so the only way to care and support children in need is through a network of private orphanages, funded entirely through individual and corporate donations.
Hilda Pacheco Taylor was born and raised in Baja, Mexico. When she was seven years old, her father left the family and her life changed forever. Hilda's mother was not prepared to be a single parent because she grew up in a time when it was believed that women did not need to be educated because their role in life was to be a housewife and mother.
As a single mom now, Hilda's mother worked as a tortilla maker but could barely make enough money to feed her kids. And since there was no money to pay for a babysitter, Hilda became the caretaker for her brothers and sister at the early age of eight. Her worst nightmare happened the day her brother Juan almost drowned. Hilda was inside the when she heard one of the neighborhood kids yell for help. When Hilda came out, he pointed to the family’s water reservoir where Hilda saw her brother Juan drowning in the water below. Luckily, a neighbor came to help and pulled him out of the reservoir. It was then that Hilda's mother had to make one of the toughest decisions of her life: to place her four children in an orphanage.
For Hilda and her siblings, life in an orphanage was great. There were about 100 kids of all ages, and the orphanage was well supported by organizations from the US. They had 3 warm meals a day and each of them had their own bed. Hilda no longer had to worry about her siblings and had an opportunity to be a child again and get an education. Even though life was great, Hilda always yearned to be with her mother and siblings as a family again. At the age of 16, she left the orphanage to join her mother in the US and focused on bringing the family together again. Within two years, she had reunited the family.
Fourteen years after she left Puerta de Fe, Hilda went down to visit her old home, expecting to see the beautiful thriving home she remembered. Hilda was shocked to find that the home had lost most of their support, they were down to 35 kids, and could hardly feed the them. The buildings were all in need of repair and the staff had not been paid in months. Hilda asked the director what she could do to help. He had started a child sponsorship program and asked if she could help find some sponsors. She picked up the child sponsorship forms, and came back to the U.S. determined to help.
Her first challenge was to share with the people about her background. For years, Hilda had worked very hard to assimilate into the U.S. culture, and make her way in the business world, so the last thing she wanted was for people to feel sorry for her. However, in order to find sponsors for the orphanage, Hilda had to stop thinking about her own worries and concerns, she had to share about her background and why she needed their help. Hilda approached the owners of the company she worked for, and they decided to sponsor every child at the orphanage, and also helped start the foundation... and that is how Corazon de Vida was born!