Today the Los Angeles Tribune is proud to highlight and spread awareness of an incredible organization led by a thought leader that is actively making a positive impact. As part of our community outreach initiatives, we strive to highlight and act as promoting partners for causes, organizations, and individuals that are making significant improvements to the needs of the planet. End The Cycle is such an organization. Today you will read about the powerful impact they are making and why you should get involved.
Leslie Vera is on a mission to ensure that children in the Peruvian Amazon are not left behind due to the digital divide of our current world. Leslie, who is best known to her friends and family as Leshka, was born in Rioja, Peru – a small town in the Peruvian Amazon where she lived for the first half of her childhood. She immigrated to the United States at the age of 9 and experienced first-hand the positive impact access to technology can have on someone’s life. Like many first generation immigrants, Leshka’s transition was no easy task. Although she moved to the US without knowing any English, the combination of her hard work and access to resources afforded Leshka numerous opportunities growing up; she traveled in the summers with the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth program, landed a Stem Cell Research internship at Stanford while in High School, and became the first person in her family to attend college.
In 2017, Leshka went back to Peru to visit family, and she was starkly reminded of the tremendous impact a person’s environment can have on their life. She saw children in her hometown walking to school barefoot, using grocery bags as backpacks, and working as street vendors during school hours. It was then that Leshka saw herself in each of those children and realized that could have easily been her fate. It was this experience that inspired her passion for helping children gain access to the resources necessary to end the cycle of poverty in their families. She began by sponsoring 10 children with an investment of $500 which provided them with new backpacks, school materials, and tuition for the school year. Leshka’s mission to empower children in the Amazon rainforest by providing resources that can change entire communities was cemented after witnessing the direct impact of even a small investment.
In 2019, Leshka founded End The Cycle (ETC), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that aims to end the cycle of poverty through technology and education. Although End The Cycle was officially formed as a nonprofit in 2019, Leshka has been involved with her community in Rioja for the past 5 years. ETC annually sponsors a total of 150 children living in extreme poverty to continue their education by providing resources such as backpacks, school materials, uniforms, and tuition. ETC also distributed groceries twice a month for 6 months during the COVID-19 pandemic. Further, End The Cycle delivers joy during the holidays through its annual Christmas party and toy drive in Rioja. Leshka has expanded the impact of ETC thanks to donations by those who believe in her mission.
End The Cycle is now launching its first Tech Summer Camp for children ages 8-16. ETC has purchased laptops with the help of donors where participants will spend 8 weeks learning English as a second language, Canva design skills, and how to build websites on Wix. Each student will get hands-on experience while they learn tech skills through interactive projects.
End The Cycle is now fundraising and accepting new or used computers/laptops to help schools in the Peruvian Amazon transition into the digital age and to continue running this tech program throughout 2023 and beyond. Additionally, ETC hopes to add coding and graphic design classes to its year-long after-school program in 2023. Their goal is to be able to build an ecosystem where children of the rainforest can access the global economy through their tech skills thus ending the cycle of poverty in their families. If you’d like to support End The Cycle’s mission, please visit endthecycleperu.org (http://endthecycleperu.org/) to learn more.