In June 2018, a few members of the N2 Family (along with an honorary member) embarked on the first Vision Trip to Bogota, Colombia. If you know anything about N2 Publishing, you know the company’s giving program, N2GIVES, is near and dear to the hearts of the founders, executives, and every team member. N2GIVES partners with All God’s Children International (AGCI) in Colombia to help fight human trafficking. This year, Life.Work.Care. organized a Vision Trip for N2 team members as a way to give more than donated funds – to give the gift of time– to our mission. Six team members witnessed the construction of a long-time vision turned reality — the Dream Home – a place for girls who have aged out of government housing but still need support in their transition.
Six women attended the Vision Trip to Colombia: Julie Shipley, an Area Director in Loveland, OH, Alyssa Depompa of Channel Islands, CA, Jaci Paneque from Mercer Island, WA, Hannah Clyde with the Life.Work.Care. team, and Shelley Blanks from the N2 Home Office Payroll team who was joined by her daughter, Amani, a recent high school graduate. These women sacrificed time out of their busy schedules to witness the good work AGCI is doing in Colombia. Each left home expecting to do some work, see the vision for the children in Bogota, and to spend time meeting people and learning about the culture. They all returned with hearts changed, and a desire to continue helping the children they met in the orphanages.
“It has made me much more appreciative and thankful for everything that I've been blessed with and the opportunities I have had all throughout my life,” says Jaci.
The Colombian government provides housing for orphans from infancy to college graduation. These orphanages provide education, food, and shelter, but are crowded — which means most of the children do not get the individual attention they need to prepare them for life on their own. This is especially true for college-aged young women, who often find themselves falling victim to sex traffickers because they are unprepared and vulnerable. This is where AGCI comes in. They strive to provide a place where young adults can live and learn to be independent, breaking the cycle of sex trafficking in Colombia.
All God’s Children International saw the needs of girls specifically between the ages of 18 and 24. During this time in life, living in the orphanages does not suit their needs very well, yet they aren’t quite self-sustainable to live on their own. Many lack the education needed to get jobs and don’t have anywhere to go. The Dream Home is a place for these girls to successfully transition to adulthood. They continue to learn, mature, and become self-sufficient. The Home will be able to hold 24 girls at a time. Shelley Blanks was excited to see the plans for the Dream Home and see the work being done to make a difference in these girls’ lives: “It is going to be such a beautiful, functioning space for the girls. They even have space to grow their own garden. How cool is that?!”
“The trip was designed for us to catch a vision of how we, as individuals and a company, can partner alongside All God’s Children… can see the need as well as the work being done to alleviate some of that need,” said Hannah Clyde of the Life.Work.Care. team. While visiting Colombia, the women were presented with opportunities to see AGCI at work in orphanages. The itinerary was packed with visits to other orphanages and homes, work on AGCI’s Dream Home, and a chance to interact with the children directly. These women received an introduction to family life in Colombia and witnessed the effort ACGI puts into making sure the orphans are cared and provided for in the future.
After witnessing all of this, they came home inspired, touched, and humbled by the living conditions in the orphanages. This put some of their frustrations at home into perspective. These women are taking action because of their experiences and are raising awareness in their communities.
The women from N2 interacted directly with the girls, learning from them and hearing about their needs. Julie described them as “young women of determination, hope, and faith” who empowered her with their resilience and zest for life.
Alyssa was very touched by the opportunity to serve in the Dream Home and to prep it for the orphans. She shared her experiences and inspiration in a two-part article in which she expresses, “I’m so grateful for this opportunity, I’m forever changed. And I’m proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone and embracing the desire in my soul to give back. To be bold. To love. Every single child deserves a family and I am committed to doing my part to ensure they have the opportunity.”
Witnessing first hand where your hard work and support is going can make a huge difference in your heart. Many of the women experienced a “shift in perspective” and were humbled by their interactions with the children. Julie Shipley says, “It was God‘s mission to get me there so I could gain a deeper vision and understanding. Now it is my mission to continue to become an ambassador to help others understand the need. I can’t unsee what I saw and I want to continue to make a difference.” We are grateful for this life-changing opportunity for these N2 women and are excited to see the work AGCI is doing to improve the lives of the children of Bogota.