My passion is to make a difference in the world, which is why I founded Ortega Counseling Center, to help injured workers back on their feet by finding schools so they can train and get the jobs they love. (Just like I did when I was injured and found myself with no options but to transform my life through education.) My passion for making a difference was reinforced when I met Vania Masías, a professional ballerina with a heart for her people -- to provide hope and social transformation to marginalized kids in Lima, Peru.
I met Vania last in August when I was in Peru on a learning tour with a group of entrepreneurs to listen and learn from Peruvian entrepreneurs on best business practices founded on social impact.
Vania Masías is an internationally acclaimed professional ballerina, having been in the main roles of classical repertoire. She also performed as a modern dancer in Europe and the Caribbean, danced at the Irish National Ballet, and performed for Cirque du Soleil.
When Vania stepped away from the professional science of dancing and returned to Lima, Peru saw the children working as street entertainers to bring home money for their families and decided that she could train them as circus performers or dancers in a safer environment. This training would develop opportunities and link them with growth in human and artistic potential.
Ms. Masías saw the children working as street entertainers to bring home money for their families and decided that she could train them as circus performers or dancers in a safer environment. This training would develop opportunities and link them with growth in human and artistic potential. She founded Angeles D1, a non-profit, cultural, self-sustaining social enterprise that provides artistic dance training for marginalized kids that are thus transformed into professional dancers. These students are trained to perform on the world stages from Peru to New York to anywhere their hearts desire.
D1 promotes an inclusive and creative culture that encourages a change of attitude in people through art. Their goal is to build a country with more opportunities for everyone. The success stories from D1 are incredible. Students have gone on to open their own dance studios and help underserved communities just as they were helped while others are performing on major stages around the world.
This project reinforced my goal of impacting 100,000 people by 2025. Like Vania Masías*, I want to help people realize their dreams in ways they never dreamed possible. I want them to feel dignity and growth as well as knowing that they are worthy and accomplished.
D1 began with the ambition to train youth leaders from marginal sectors of Peru. Today, this project is an institution in which around 7,000 young people are trained per year, becoming one of the main successful references in the use of the arts as a tool for social transformation in our country. It is estimated that to date, it has had a very positive impact on more than 170 thousand people directly. D1 has developed self-sustainability strategies through its private dance schools "Escuela D1", projects and corporate events "Productora D1," which, together with the support of private companies and international foundations for the “Ángeles D1” social axis, have allowed its consolidation and growth.
Vania Masías and her students
As my one of my businesses, the Ortega Counseling Center celebrated its ten-year anniversary this year, we found that we have assisted more than 40,000 injured workers to find training for their futures in that time. What hit me is that each of those 40,000 people has the potential to impact even more people. We all have the ability to change lives. We can all spread the wealth of hope and empowerment to the people in our lives. You never know who will rise to the top, but with support and encouragement, we all come a lot closer. Vania showed me the power of one person -- what we can do when we set our mind to helping others. You can make a lasting impact. Never underestimate the power of changing one person’s life!
*Look for Vania Masías’ TED Talk entitled, “Bailar para mejorar la sociedad: una revolución educativa por medio del arte.”