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December of Dreams began as a college student's dream to make a difference in the lives of children who live in the second poorest country in Central America -- Nicaragua.
Working with volunteers from all walks of life, December of Dreams organizes trips to Nicaragua each year where volunteers can hand deliver donated toys and school supplies to children in need. To learn more about December of Dreams, check out the organization's video on YouTube.
December of Dreams
But the journey through Central America was not an easy one. Landing first in Guatemala, Jarquin and his sisters had to find their own means of survival while they waited for clearance to travel onwards.
"To survive we picked cotton and ate what we found," tells Jarquin. "With much prayer and divine intervention our inferno ended after a year. We were able to travel through Mexico, and cross the Rio Grande to reunite with my mother in Miami."
Jarquin's mother recognized that her children could have a better life outside of Nicaragua and the risk she took, along with his experience of suffering, has left an indelible mark on him.
So while attending Florida International University, Jarquin founded December of Dreams, a nonprofit organization that, according to Jarquin, focuses on Nicaraguan children and their potential.
"I dreamed December of Dreams to bring toys and school supplies for children to go to school and lift themselves out of poverty through education," says Jarquin.
Comprised primarily of volunteers, December of Dreams travels to Nicaragua each year to hand deliver donated toys and school supplies with the hope that these gifts can help children there persevere despite tough conditions.
By delivering the supplies, volunteers get the benefit of not just bringing smiles to children's faces but also of learning about the economic, political and social realities of the country.
"We build civic leaders," says Jarquin. "The world needs leaders who are compassionate and in tune to the needs of children in the Third World. We mold students and community members to not only communicate better but think outside the box to help others."
And though Jarquin's wish to help Nicaraguan children has been fulfilled, he notes that he could not have accomplished any of this without the guidance of his hero and mentor: his mother.
"It is because of her that I am here in the land of dreams," he says. "She has shown me that I can overpass any obstacle because all challenges and solutions are in my mind."
December of Dreams has grown since Jarquin established it in 2005, and the organization hopes to expand to El Salvador in 2012 and Honduras in 2014. He offers up these words of wisdom for his own perseverance:
"Follow your passion and never give up. Remember, you are the hero of whatever nonprofit work you do."
By Alessandra Siraco, 2010