SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Via International in San Diego has been making life better for people both north and south of the border for almost fifty years.
Founded in 1975 to provide the basic needs of children, it has evolved into a global non-profit offering community solutions around the world.
Via International volunteers have planted 600 community gardens, started 10,000 home gardens, provided nutritional information to 80,000 women, and donated 400 beehives to launch honey businesses. In total it’s loaned over 2.1 million dollars thru micro-loans to men and women in the U.S., Mexico, and Central America.
The woman who’s been at the helm of this global charity and culture affirming movement for the past 25 years is President Elisa Sabatini.
She calls micro-loans magic and says the key to helping the Cali-Baja region is to listen. Sabatini says the smart, hardworking, creative people of our border region can do amazing things with a small loan.
These small businesses include tamales, tortillas, breads, pastries, and salsa. Money has also repaired a car to make an Uber business possible and products have been purchased to allow women to sell Mary Kay and cleaning products.
Many women attend Via International's nutritional programs and learn to make the foods of their culture in a healthier way. With that starter money, those foods are sold at schools and stores.
Coffee growers are funded in Mexico and Central America.
Beehives give people on both sides of the border an extra income from the harvested honey.
In some years Via International has given out over 400 micro-loans, mainly to women. Sabatini says the money is always repaid, and it just keeps rolling over for other loans to more people.
Sabatini also oversees the program to preserve the cultural heritage of the corridor from Friendship Park at the border to Chicano Park in Barrio Logan.
Via International brings in student artists from around the globe to work alongside local artists repairing murals and keeping cultural traditions alive.
For all the work Elisa Sabatini has done to change lives, uplift communities and preserve our border culture, we awarded her the ABC 10News Leadership Award.
Congratulations Elisa! You deserve it.