Justin Abadejos- University of California San Diego- Spring Break 2015 (Jamaica)
Thank you ICO for hosting us and giving us experieces and interactions we will hold on to for the rest of our lives.
Zsara Abuyo – University of California San Diego- Spring Break 2015 (Jamaica)
Thank you ICO for showing us around Jamaica. I truly enjoyed this experience, it will always have a special place in my heart.
Leandra Peter- University of California San Diego- Spring Break 2015 (Jamaica)
This service learning trip has been an amazing experience, I have learned and grown so much from this experience. It has been life changing and a real eye opener. Thank you so much for this blessing.
Nicole Aquirre- University of California San Diego- Spring Break 2015 (Jamaica)
Thank you for sharing this experience with us. We truly appreciate everything you do for us and for all the groups that you work with.
I’ve had a life changing and unforgettable experience here in Jamaica and I thank you for making this possible, Thanks ICO.
Lillian Chen – University of California San Diego- Spring Break 2015 (Jamaica)
Thank you for providing all of us with such an eye opening and amazing experience. This was by far the best decision I’ve made in my college career. I’m so grateful.
Judd G. – University of California San Diego- Spring Break 2015 (Jamaica)
Thank you ICO for giving all of us an opportunity to work with such amazing kids. This experience has been such a blessing, it has positively impacted my life.
Kristine Paiste – University of California San Diego- Spring Break 2015 (Jamaica)
Thank you ICO for sharing your story and inspiring me to continue to commit to life long service even after college. I had such an amazing time here and in Miami working alongside you. Thank you again, I hope you continue to strive to make the world a better place for all children.
Dieter L. – University of California San Diego- Spring Break 2015 (Jamaica)
Thank you for planning such an unforgettable experience, The logistical coordination and work have been intense and I really appreciate your hard work.
Andrew Dat Hua (Jamaica)
Thank you for your passion and dedication that have made this experience an amazing journey.
Spencer Lee- University of California San Diego- Spring Break 2015 (Jamaica)
Thank you for an unforgettable experience. Absolutely life changing memories made in a week because of you.
Denali-University of California San Diego- Spring Break 2015 (Jamaica)
Thank you for making this incredible opportunity possible! Our lives have been changed because of ICO.
Gabriela Franqui-Florida International University-Spring Break 2011 (Lauderhill Site)
“Our group of eight volunteers was welcomed to reside at ICO’s center for the week while literally tearing and rebuilding a new education center for the children in the community. Striving to create a place that inspires imagination, growth, and exceptional education was at the top of the list in each step of the project. The founder was involved and an integral part in everything from selecting wall colors to clearing out the playground.
After realizing how much she has accomplished and continues to strive for at such a young age, she has truly unveiled the possibilities and contributions we’re able to make regardless of our age, gender, or race. I anticipated entering the center and simply providing our services, but upon leaving we realized our site had impacted us more than what our efforts could have provided. Continuing to support Onica on her life endeavors is more than a pleasure from all who have interacted with her.”
Natalie Pearson- Florida International University-Fall Break 2012 (Miami Site)
“Working with International Children’s Outreach (ICO) was a great experience. To be able to work closely with an organization where the founder gets involved is a good feeling. This lets me as a participant know that my work is not being done in vain and I am appreciated for all that I do. This organization is a blessing to children that are less fortunate because ICO really cares. They are an amazing organization and deserve recognition for the work they do.”
Joseph Perez- Florida International University-Fall Break 2012 (Miami Site)
“My experience with ICO was fantastic. Working with my group and Onica was enjoyable. We got a lot of work done and seeing the school go from empty walls to colorful and theme filled was great. The site now looks amazing and I’m happy to know I was a part of it.”
Christina Salem- Florida International University-Fall Break 2012 (Miami Site)
“It was a pleasure being able to team up during this fall break and work with ICO. Overall it has been a great experience being able to work at Little Masters Academy with ICO as our host. The site host who is also the founder was very welcoming and did everything possible in order to make sure we were settled in and comfortable at all times. I look forward to seeing the progress of this organization, and feel very honored to be a part of this project.”
Sabrine Laue- Florida International University-Fall Break 2012 (Miami Site)
“Just last year I did my pre-service with ICO at Onica’s first Little Masters School in Lauderhill and now I completed my service at the new Little Masters and the experience was incredible! As a group we were able to accomplish so much from murals, to creating a garden and preparing a basketball court. Aside from feeling productive I feel that the hard work we had committed ourselves to will impact and change the lives of so many children and that feeling I just cannot express with words. Education is imperative on so many levels but it is not an overnight success. It is a process and a long one, it takes motivation, stress, heart, and even tears but without a good and early start education is almost impossible to gain. With this being said, I truly feel what my group and I did was more than just decorating a school but building a foundation for young minds to become educated and that can never be taken away from us. In some way we will inspire Onica’s little masters to educate themselves and gain a world of opportunity.”
Erika Mincarelli- Florida International University-Fall Break 2012 (Miami Site)
“My trip was great, I was so impressed with the amount of work that our team got done. It was really amazing to see what our team was able to do in such a short amount of time and that so many different people could come together for one cause. It was hard work but personally I felt that it was more important just to stay focused and do the work. I’m very happy I decided to do aB and I will definitely be going on more aB trips in the future.”
Susi Munoz- Florida International University-Fall Break 2012 (Miami Site)
“Personally, I feel this experience was rewarding for me in two ways, one involving my participants and one involving the school’s kids. Starting with my Participants, I realized that I helped some of these FIU students feel more comfortable to come out of their shells, speak out, meet new people, and help their community. It feels amazing to open the eyes of people around you…I also worked hard to fulfill all our goals, and with everyone’s help my expectations were more than met. Secondly, I hope that when Little Masters Academy opens, all the kids will enjoy education in a happy environment made by us. Looking back into my life, I feel really lucky about my own education; so, for me it was all about making other children lucky too.”
Ashley Dufanal- Nova Southeastern University- Summer Break 2012 (Guyana Site)
“I am from a third world country, and I know how much help my Haitian people need. Only four years ago I moved to the United States at age 16, and I forgot for a moment about where I came from. Going to Guyana made me remember all that, especially since Haiti and Guyana are similar in a lot of ways. When I said that I forgot where I came from, it is not that I forgot that I was Haitian, it’s getting caught up in my comfort zone living in the US, that made me forget how life was back in my country. I even have plans to help third world countries when I am done with school but waking up in a comfortable bed, having electricity 24/7, having food to eat whenever I’m hungry; made me forget about other people. I am glad that I went on the trip to Guyana, it opened up my eyes on a lot of things and I thank Onica for that. The experiences that I had there, were the best, I would do it over and over again. Guyanese people are the nicest people I have ever met; my favorite part of this trip was spending time with the children at Grove Primary School while working on the library. I love helping people and I will definitely keep doing what I love :)”
Tyresha Cooper- Nova Southeastern University- Summer Break 2012 (Guyana Site)
“I am so happy I was able to help children across the world! I believe through God all things are possible! Therefore going to Guyana was pretty much a prayer that came true for me. I love children, and I felt amazing while fixing the library for them. I really would like to thank Onica! She is an amazing person! I am more than honored to say I was involved on an ICO service trip! BEST EXPERIENCE EVER!”
Brittany Bacallao- Nova Southeastern University- Summer Break 2012 (Guyana Site)
“As a first time alternative break student I truly enjoyed my experience in Guyana. Helping others is something I have also enjoyed and have been happy to do here and there. However, going to Guyana through ICO has helped me change my perspective on service; I feel that now I am more passionate for helping others and just as Onica’s aB program made her the wonderful women she is today and helped guide her into her career, I believe my trip with ICO has also helped me to decided on my future career with children and will help me grow as an individual.
My Guyana experience could not have been more enjoyable and an eye opening experience than it was. In my eyes the trip was planned perfectly. The close friends and family to Onica were so kind to our needs and help. Also the need for transportation was great because we didn’t really need a car because we could walk everywhere and see and talk to locals on the way to our working site. However, when needed, we did have transportation provided and it was convenient.
Overall, I had a wonderful time in Guyana remodeling Grove Primary School’s library and meeting with the children and families. I would defiantly like to go back with ICO to Guyana to help with another project and maybe stay longer. I do not feel that I would have gone on an international trip if it weren’t for ICO; Thank you so much for the life changing experience and I hope to be doing many more trips with you! “
Megan Motley University of Miami aB- Fall 2012 (Lauderhill Site)
“My experience with ICO was inspiring and incredibly touching in so many ways. While surrounded by a group of adults whose passion for what they do shined in their every action, I found myself acting in sincere excitement to do service and make a change for the children I was connecting with over my weekend with ICO. I worked with a group of young children who, though their backgrounds varied, showed a fantastic zeal for life and enthusiasm for education that was enhanced by the ICO staff. The children grabbed hold of my heart, and a few will never leave my memory. This experience has left an incredible mark on my view of children’s education, its importance, my ability to change it and a teacher’s effect on it. ICO has shaped the way I view the future and my impact on it in a single weekend, and I am extremely grateful.”
Brett- University of Miami aB- Fall 2012 (Lauderhill Site)
“Working at Little Masters these last days has been a very rewarding experience. It has been wonderful to spend time with and get to know the amazing kids at this school, and it is heartwarming to see them obtaining a quality education, especially knowing that they would not have if this school were not present. Little Masters if giving hundreds of kids the tools to think for them and has a positive environment in which to learn and grow. This school helps kids to build self-confidence and learn values such as respect, honesty and integrity. It is inspiration to see that these kids, many who came from disadvantage backgrounds, are being given a chance to be successful, well educated people. Working with the children at Little Maters is an experience that I will never forget.”
Site Leader Christina Cyperien -University of Miami aB Fall 2012 (Lauderhill Site)
“My experience working with ICO at the preschool “Little Masters” was very impacting. Being here with these kids meant so much. They have allowed me to see things in a different perspective. They have challenged me in many ways and most importantly they have taught me to appreciate life and all its blessings that we tend to take for granted, As much as they have impacted me, I hope that they were able to see me, someone who could relate to some of them in many ways as I grew up in a single parent home with a mother who worked hard long hours to put food on the table for me and my four other siblings, and have hope that one day they too can be college students and make a difference in their communities.”
Lili Qui- University of Miami aB Fall 2012 (Lauderhill Site)
“The first day of this trip, I was working with 4 year old kids and 2 year old kids. But the work I did was harder than what I expected and can’t imagine how hard it is to establish this whole program (thank you Onica) and the second day we were having fun day with around 50 kids and their parents. I felt so proud of all the work that is being done, exchanged laugthers from the kids and their parents. I will definitely recommend more friends to come and help with the children. By the way, I love the food here :-)”
Site Leader Olivia Haas- University of Miami aB Fall Break 2012 (Lauderhill Site)
“I had an amazing experience with ICO on my alternative break trip. Their mission, vision and what they have accomplished really inspired me. We got to interact and work directly with the kids in the classroom and for a fall festival fun day both of which were very rewarding and impactful. ICO was very welcoming and kind to us which helped make the experience and I really hope to get to work with them again in the future.”
Michael Kaplan-University of Miami aB Fall Break 2012 (Lauderhill Site)
“Working with International Children’s Outreach (ICO) this weekend has been a great experience. At little Masters in Lauderhill we saw all of the great achievements that the children were making, thanks to the tutoring and programs available through ICO. As volunteers we also had the opportunity to speak with the older children about our experience in college and why it is important to continue one’s education. On Saturday we had a fun day of activities with the kids and made sure that everyone was having a great time. I hope that our experience with the kids this weekend will be one that they will remember in the future. I would definitely recommend volunteering through ICO, It was a very rewarding experience.”
Kyple Laney- University of Miami aB Fall Break 2012 (Lauderhill Site)
“I really felt at home here even though the service trip was only for three days. I really enjoyed working with the kids here and actually learning about the work from them. I was impressed with their enthusiasm for life and overall maturity. I realize that it is not always so easy to try to create, develop and maintain a program like this. So I am grateful for the opportunity to share this with you. Onica I am amazed but not surprised at your professional nature and your ability to direct people in an effective manner. That is not always easy to do but you don’t seem to break a sweat. I would love to continue to work with ICO. Overall this was an amazing trip. I really enjoyed working with kids and this trip helped further this love. I believe that our group has really benefited on this trip and we are much closer now than we were before we came on this trip. I will definitely not forget this organization. Hopefully we will be working together on other projects in the future.”
Marii Orcillez- Florida International University- Spring Break 2013 (Guyana Site)
“Going on a trip to Guyana with the organization International Children Outreach was one of the most enrichment and rewarding experiences of my life. This experience made me realize that I want to work giving back to my community my whole life, it also created a strong bond between the people that I worked with in the project during the whole week and it helped me to see the world with another perspective. Through this trip I learned to be open to any experience that would come along with it and it also taught me to put my necessities aside to help the less fortunate. Working with ICO in Guyana was a life changing experience for me that I will never forget!”-
Joanna Garcia- Florida International University- Spring Break 2013 (Guyana Site)
“Traveling to Guyana to serve through Alternative Breaks program was truly a life changing experience. As volunteers we were able to see what a difference our work really made at Campbell’s Trust Nursery School and within the local community.”
Christina Retana- Florida International University- Spring Break 2013 (Guyana Site)
“I have been so lucky to have been a part of ICO’s 2013 trip to Guyana. The memories, friends, and family that I made during that seven day trip changed my life. During my trip, I had the pleasure of renovating Campbell’s Trust Nursery School’s playground alongside eight other participants. When we arrived the playground was in shambles. For three days, we shoveled over 20 tons of sand and fixed up rusted swing sets. Needless to say, my teams’ hard work paid off and it looked good as new.
ICO has given me so much hope and encouragement to give back to the community and has shown me that no small act of kindness goes unnoticed.”
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Sir Winston Churchill
Yanella Gilbert- Florida International University- Spring Break 2013 (Guyana Site)
“Visiting Guyana, I love the way it feels to be able to serve/help others, especially those who have a true need. I really enjoy participating with ICO because through it I have met so many wonderful people and have developed new friendships with other volunteers. For me, working hard and being a potential volunteer, it was worth the visit to make a school look brand new for the children at Campbell’s Trust Nursery school. Also, the other volunteers made the experience so meaningful. Volunteering in Guyana was the most rewarding experience I have ever had. I woke up every morning with a purpose and spent the day learning a valuable lesson about patience, love, acceptance and gratitude.”
Micaela Baldvieso- Florida International University- Spring Break 2013 (Guyana Site)
“Before you pass judgment, walk a mile in my shoes” I always understood what that meant, yeah others have it harder. Up until my service trip to Guyana, I didn’t fully grasp what “walk a mile in my shoes” meant. For a week I lived a Guyanese life. I’ll tell you one thing; it’s not an easy life. I work in TCBY a yogurt place and I make more money than teacher with an actual degree. The poverty is perplexing. I learned to always be thankful for everything you have, because there is someone out there who can’t have it while it’s being handed to us with no problem. Guyana opened my eyes and I reassured myself that I will live a life of service no matter where my life takes me. We’ve been so blessed to be born into such an easy life, a life where water isn’t a problem. We can drink from any water source near us without fear of getting sick. We are truly blessed. “Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth.”
Raynard “Ray” Morgan- ICO-aB Alumni Chapter- Kingston, Jamaica
“I had the opportunity of working with ICO on its service mission to Jamaica where Strathmore Gardens Children’s Home and the Ebony Vale Basic School in Spanish Town, St. Catherine were identified as service sites. The overall experience is one I will never forget. The personal expressions of gratitude from the children and staff of Strathmore Gardens, the camaraderie of the volunteers, and the simple joy felt from giving were immensely rewarding so much so that it is impossible to adequately describe in words. The overall trip has left me feeling inspired by the dedication and positive attitude of the ICO team and I look forward to future opportunities to work and give in their company.
Diana Ospina-ICO-aB Alumni Chapter- Kingston, Jamaica
“After graduating from college I thought I would not be granted with another opportunity to provide community service or participate in service projects of any sort; until I met Onica Charles and was introduced to all the great things ICO has to offer. My experience in Jamaica along with the rest of the participants was amazing. We were blessed with the opportunity to spend time with a wonderful group of children at the orphanage, transform the exterior of a school for another group of amazing students and still had time to explore all the wonders Jamaica had to offer. This was definitely eye opening to me, and I cannot wait to continue being a part of these phenomenal service projects ICO has to offer. Thank you ICO for giving me another chance to give back to those who truly deserve it!”
Katherine Salazar- ICO-aB Alumni Chapter- Kingston Jamaica
“My experience in Jamaica with ICO was incredible. I had the opportunity to work with an amazing group of people, spending our time at an orphanage. I met so many amazing little kids. I was touched by every single one as they were all so humble and so happy. This experience made me grow as a person and I learned so much from these kids. Just spending time with them taught me what truly matters in life. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything,memories made to last a life time! I will definitely be working with ICO in the future!”
Kat Zhupan, University of Michigan Alternative Spring Break 2013 (Lauderhill Site)
Rosie Salem- Florida International University Summer Break- Durban, South Africa 2013
“Being immersed into such a beautiful and unique culture was truly a blessing. Thinking about all the wonderful individuals we had the pleasure of coming across and how each one of them has impacted our lives leaves me speechless. I feel that the best way to summarize our experience is through the following quote by Gandhi, ”The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others”.
Through FIU Alternative Break’s partnership with International Children’s Outreach, eight students and one professor had the pleasure and honor to volunteer at the Blue Roof Wellness Center. Volunteering with children, staff members, and members of the community who were affected by the virus was truly an eye opening experience. Besides gaining a better understanding of the science behind this disease, we were able to see the strength and humility these individuals carried their lives with on a daily basis. .
Being able to see the community members gaze and appreciate our efforts was all the “thank you” we would ever need. Seeing the children run around playing with their new toys and writing on their new chalk boards was unbelievably rewarding. The tasks our group members happily assisted with around the clinic, instilled a sense of hope not only in the members of the Blue Roof Clinic, but in ourselves as well.
Performing service work in South Africa was easily the best experience of my life. Our service allowed us to bond with outstanding individuals who tend to the community members affected by HIV on a daily basis. Being able to improve their facility was truly an honor which I was luckily apart of.”
Leonardo (Leo) Evora- ICO Alumni Jamaica 2013
“I have had the privilege to be with ICO for one of its service projects in Jamaica. From the start the experience promised to be a memorable. ICO brought together a group of 6 unique individuals with a strong desire to help; the teams chemistry from the first meeting was so great, it foreshadowed the future of strong bonds and lifelong memories.
The service project in Jamaica consisted of two primary tasks with one simple outlook; the tasks were to paint one of the local schools and to paint and provide assistance with clothing at Strathmore Gardens Orphange and to bring more smiles. From the first moment we met the kids, with all their eyes longingly seeking our arrival, it was clear that our efforts would not be in vain. In the end, I believe this project brought more than anything we could have imagined.”
Alex Soos- University of Michigan AMSA- Spring Break 2013- Lauderhill Site)
“This was the first year our American Medical Student Association (AMSA) traveled outside the State of Michigan for an alternative spring break, and the second year ever that our organization even participated. As a first time site leader, I had very few expectations and a lot of concern. I was concerned that my volunteers would not feel they made an impact, and I was also concerned members of ICO and Little Master’s would feel more burdened than blessed by our visit.
Honestly, from the first moment we arrived at the school most of my fears were relieved. Onica and Leyland were both quick to explain ICO’s long-term and short-term mission. Throughout the course of the week, I think I can speak for everyone in that we bonded 10x more than I think anyone had expected. Almost none of us knew each other prior to the trip (as risky as that was) and yet it turned out incredible. A week after returning to class, everyone was messaging each other trying to setup a reunion soon. Even between the Onica, Leyland, and Little Master’s, I think my committee made some pretty valuable friendships. I was blessed to see the welcoming attitude and the comfortable conversations we all had by the first night.
In terms of our service, I personally loved the time I was able to spend with the children (during school and after-care). Encouraging the kids to first finish their work, to have goals, but more importantly to enjoy whatever it is they do and know how to value friendship and happiness. Of course the manual labor was also rewarding, and I know the girls especially were proud of their Dr. Seuss themed illustrations. Between painting, mulching, cementing, etc. I think we helped to clean up the look of the school and hopefully made changes that would last for the next few years. Certainly I don’t think ICO has reached their final goal, but I don’t think our volunteers have either. Giving back has no end, and I think that’s part of what ICO taught AMSA.
Thank you (everyone) for the opportunity and I hope I can find a way to continue to give back to ICO.”