Miami Teen Serves Malawi Orphans

Photo by Philip Laubner/CRS

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After watching a documentary about Malawi orphans, Alejandro Ortega, 13, felt compelled to act. The fact that so many Malawian children were now facing hunger, untreated illness and an end to their schooling haunted him.

"It's hard to go on knowing that those things are happening every day," Alejandro says. "I felt it was my duty to do something."

The Miami teen approached his pastor, Father Roberto del Cid, with the idea of holding a bake sale after Mass. Father del Cid invited Venezuelan-born Alejandro to speak to parishioners at both English and Spanish Masses. The idea grew beyond his parish, St. Patrick's Church, to include Hispanic parishioners at Corpus Christi Church, who offered to help by baking all the goods. Soon, everyone started referring to the project as Miami for Malawi.

"People were extremely generous," says Alejandro, who notes that the sale raised more than $5,000. After researching several charities, he decided to donate the money to Catholic Relief Services because the agency not only shares his Catholic values but also works with orphans in Malawi.

"I picked CRS because I feel that they're really connected to the children," he says. "They personally help them."