”Aspiring to provide life skills and the ability to thrive for youth globally.
” NAFE is an acronym for “Niños de Acción, Fuerza y Educación” or “Children of Action, Strength and Education”.
NAFE-US aims to provide support, health, education and self-sustainability to youth around the world, while offering our volunteers intercultural and educational opportunities to serve youth today and gain a broader world perspective. This aids in developing a lifelong appreciation for humanitarian service and allows young people to experience mentoring, positivity, safety and respect. We value the rich diversity of cultures, traditions, socio-economic status, and life-styles. Our projects build on respect for youth, local customs, social norms, cultures and traditions.
This starts as a “my story” and quickly evolves into a story about the amazing people who have made this idea become a reality.
Believe it or not, Nacho Libre was the inspiration for starting this non-profit.
Go ahead and laugh, we know it’s funny. I still can’t tell people without laughing.
When I watched it for the first time I knew, with all my heart and soul, that this is what I was meant to do with my life. (Not be a chubby luchadora or a bad cook or pine away for a nun, but help children have a better life, a better education and give them the opportunity for a future filled with possibilities.) I realize I am probably the only person who got a deep, life-altering message from this movie, but I did. I was inspired. I was Maria Libre and I was going to learn Spanish, move to Latin America and do my part to change the world.
In a matter of months, I found myself in Peru talking with a teddy bear-of-a-man named Manuel. Manuel had started an NGO in Peru in 2009 with his family. They had envisioned offering an after-school program for the impoverished children in his area. However, he had never been able to keep it running for more than a few weeks at a time due to lack of organization, funding and volunteers.
“Manuel, I can help you!” I nearly shouted, while sort of–but not really–trying to contain my excitement..
I returned to the States and visited Southern Utah University, a local university and my alma mater, knowing they would grab hold of my plan and run with it alongside me.
Within a couple of months, Andrew Humiston, a student from SUU, was in Peru serving as the volunteer coordinator. Within a week of his arriving, the program ran five days a week reliably and has continued to do so ever since. He received college credit at SUU for his internship there, made friends from around the world, and had experiences he will never forget-all while serving these beautiful children.
Andrew was just the beginning of the wonderful people who would cross my path, sliding easily into various roles with NAFE US, as we have built it into an organization helping youth in Peru–as well as here in the United States–aspiring to help youth throughout South and Central America, and eventually, many other parts of the world. Changing the world can be done in a million ways, but it always begins by changing ourselves.
Rise up with us and change the world. Begin with you.
-Maria “Libre” Simpson