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This Latina Was So Impacted By Women Struggling Around The World, She Started A Non-Profit To Help

Loren Medina is a globetrotter with a mission. The Cuban-American humanitarian has spent much of her time traveling the last three years helping people in each country she visits. Whether it be a young girl freed from sex trafficking or a Syrian refugees in Jordan, Medina is determined to help and inspire others to do the same. Medina spoke with mitú about her non-profit Travel With Purpose and the inspiration for what she calls her passion project.

Meet Loren Medina, who founded the nonprofit Travel With Purpose after learning about young women who are victims of sex trafficking.

Travel With Purpose / Facebook

Medina was inspired to create her nonprofit after watching a documentary on sex trafficking, reading the book “Half The Sky” by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, and traveling to Cambodia and the Philippines, where she worked with 107 sex trafficking all under the age of 17.

“I made the commitment at that moment that I would never travel without a purpose,” Medina says. “I would have a nonprofit and I would dedicate the rest of my life to doing this. It’s a passion project.”

Medina, whose works full time in PR and as a professor at USC, understands that not everyone can or wants to spend their vacation time volunteering. However, there are little things people can do when traveling to areas in crisis.

Travel With Purpose / Facebook

“If you’re going to go to a place like Haiti for vacation, why not take two suitcases full of supplies that a local orphanage or a local school close to the place where you’re staying may need?,” Medina says. “Why not just contribute while you’re there? That’s what traveling with a purpose means to me.”

As for places like Cuba, Medina recommends foregoing a hotel and eating at tourist restaurants since the Cuban government gets 50 percent of those earnings. Instead, she suggests booking a place to stay via AirBnB and eating at paladares, which are family-run restaurants located in people’s home, because both significantly benefit owners financially.

Through her work, Medina has met women and girls that continue to inspire her to help those in need.

Travel With Purpose / Facebook

She recalls meeting one 12-year-old girl who had endured substantial abuse. The girl had severe scarring on all over her body and was missing most of her teeth.

“She didn’t speak English, but she was really funny,” says Medina.

When it came time to leave, the little girl begged Medina not to go.

“I still cant talk about this without crying,” she says. “We hugged for, like, 45 minutes and we were both hysterical.”

That moment made a huge impact on Medina, solidifying the importance of preventing other girls from facing the same injustices and abuses.

“How can I not doing anything to prevent any girl from going through this?,” she says. “That pretty much changed everything for me.”

Even though Medina has impacted many lives through her nonprofit, she still looks back at her trip to Cambodia and the Philippines as the moment she realized this work is bigger than herself.

Travel With Purpose / Facebook

Medina recalls a moment when her non-profit was opening another shelter for women and girls in need. People from around the U.S. who had helped raise money for the shelter were there for the opening.

“Seeing those girls, and crying when they were saying bye to us, and [seeing] how thankful they were,” says Medina. “Just experiencing those emotions and knowing that they were [once] alone in the world. Had it not been for these organizations, they could have been dead or sold or who knows what.”

Even though Medina runs Travel With Purpose mostly on her own, she wants to grow her passion project into something more interactive.

Travel With Purpose / Facebook

She envisions Travel With Purpose growing into an organization that offers guidance on humanitarian travel. Rather than setting up campaigns, Medina wants the non-profit to become a place where people can set up their own campaigns and get the funding necessary to complete their goals.

“I would love to position Travel with Purpose to be a liaison with different organizations,” Medina says.

Courtesy of Loren Medina

This way people can visit her site, find different humanitarian campaigns and contribute to the ones that resonate with them. If they can’t volunteer, they’d still be able to donate and help raise funds for those same causes.

As for now, Medina is trying to start an ambassador program so she can speak with students about different issues and get them involved.

Courtesy of Loren Medina

What would be your passion project? Let us know.


READ: Months Before Getting Her Masters, This Latina Found A Letter From Her Father That Will Make You Cry

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🤩 20 Remarkable Mementos You’ll See at the Selena Museum

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🤩 20 Remarkable Mementos You’ll See at the Selena Museum

In 1995, the world lost the Queen of Tejano music, Selena Quintanilla Perez. Immediately following her death, mass vigils were held around the Latinidad to honor our lost reina. After her death, fans turned to her music for consolation and relief as they mourned the musician. Even after 24 years, the superstar is still grieved and celebrated by her fans.

Festivals are held around the world each year in honor of Selena’s birthday, life and death. Murals of the Queen of Tejano still grace neighborhoods from Texas to California to Mexico. Even international brands like MAC Cosmetics, Forever 21 and Target still collaborate with Selena’s estate to bring fans new merchandise.

While these all immortalize Selena’s legacy, there’s only one museum in the world dedicated to the Queen of Tejano.

In Selena’s hometown of Corpus Christi Texas — only a few miles from her final resting place — is Q Productions. Founded in 1993, Q Productions is the actual studio Selena recorded in with her father, Abraham, and Los Dinos. While it’s still an operating studio, the big draw of the location is the Selena Quintanilla Museum. Featuring mementos, collectables and memories from the iconic Latina’s life and career, it’s a visit that every Selena fan should make.

Here are some of the remarkable artifacts you will find at the Selena Museum.

1. Selena’s red convertible

The Selena Museum

It’s now over 30 years old, but this racy red convertible was Selena’s favorite car. In fact, before she bought the 1986 Porsche, she purchased a new black Porsche hatchback instead. However, something just didn’t vibe for the Queen of Tejano and she traded that one in for this older model. It could be because it’s paint job matches the Latina’s signature red lip but this ride just says, “Selena.”

2. The entire Selena MAC makeup line

The Selena Museum

In 2016, international makeup company MAC Cosmetics launched a line inspired by Selena. The Selena MAC collection was so well received that it sold out online within HOURS. The full line is on display at the Selena Museum — sporting products with names like “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,” “Missing My Baby” and “No Me Queda Mas.”

3. Selena’s fashion sketches

The Selena Museum

Anyone who has seen Selena knows that the musician had an incredible sense of style. She had first-hand input in her styling because she designed many of her most iconic looks. Had she not become a musician, Selena wanted to become a fashion designer. In fact, before her death, Selena had opened two boutiques — one in Corpus Christi and one in San Antonio. Another was planned for Monterrey, Mexico however it was never built. Following her death, both locations closed but you can still see the sketches that started it all.

4. Selena’s childhood dolls

The Selena Museum

It’s easy to forget that the legendary Queen of Tejano started off as a little girl, singing songs to her father’s guitar. These sweet reminders of her childhood give us a glimpse into the Selena that only her family know. The baby doll and old Raggedy Anne are toys saved by Selena’s parents and immortalized in the museum. To them, she will always be their little girl.

5. Fan mail from around the world

The Selena Museum

Selena got her start in South Texas but soon achieved stardom that reached around the world. At the Selena Museum, you’ll find devoted fan mail from places like Japan, Uruguay, Peru, Hungary and New Zealand. You can still send fan mail to Q Productions and share your own love and appreciation for Selena.

6. An original manuscript for “Selena”

The Selena Museum

Soon after Selena’s death in 1995, studios began vying for the rights to Selena’s life. The Quintanilla Family wanted to make sure Selena’s spirit was especially respected in any depiction of the departed musician. With this in mind, they became very involved in the film of her life. In 1997, “Selena” debuted to critical acclaim and would arguably be the role that made Jennifer Lopez’s career. At the Selena Museum, you’ll find an original manuscript for the screenplay that would become “Selena.”

7. Selena’s famous bustiers

The Selena Museum

Before pop stars’ became more open with baring a little skin, Selena made the bustier a staple for her wardrobe. Much to her dad Abraham’s dismay, Selena came up with design herself. The fashionista would sow sequins onto regular bras for a show-stopping look. It’s a good thing that Abe eased his anti-bustier stance. They’re further proof that Selena was a star ahead of her time.

8. Selena’s egg collection

The Selena Museum

If you’ve seen “Selena,” you know the Queen of Tejano had an odd little collection. She liked to collect eggs; specifically, Faberge eggs. The Russian treasures are a luxury that Selena adored and the singer had plenty in her collection. In case you’re curious, the collection DOES NOT include that egg ring from She-Who-Will-Not-Be-Named.

9. Selena’s Grammy dress

The Selena Museum

Since fashion is such an essential part of who she was, the Selena Museum has several of the late star’s iconic outfits. One that’s exceptionally gorgeous is the Lillie Rubin white sequin dress she wore to the Grammys. You might remember that legendary scene in “Selena” with the rude boutique clerk and swarm of fans. That scene was inspired by a memorable shopping trip in Houston to buy that dress.

10. Collectable Selena dolls

The Selena Museum

Raise your hand if you had one of these babies as a kid. Selena has been memorialized in several different ways but the different collectable dolls made in her image may be the most awesome. At the Selena Museum, there is a collection of six Selena dolls — all sporting one of her signature looks.

11. The studio Selena used to record her final album

The Selena Museum

Q Productions has been a working studio since it’s opening in the 90s. To this day, it still accommodates musicians but Selena was their first ever recording artist. Infact, Selena recorded her final album — “Dreaming of You” — at Q Productions.

12. And the very microphone she used, too

The Selena Museum

Including Suzette’s first drum kit and Abraham’s prized piano, Q Productions has many treasures on display. One you’ll be able to see is the very mic Selena used to record “Dreaming of You.” The album debuted number 1 on the Billboard 200; the first ever predominantly Spanish-language album to do so.

13. The outfit from the cover of “Amor Prohibido”

The Selena Museum

One of Selena’s most iconic looks is the fierce leather and lace outfit featured on the album cover for “Amor Prohibido.” This album proved to be one of Selena’s biggest. Besides being a solid listen from start to finish, it also features hits “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,” “Yo Me Queda Más” and “Techno Cumbia.” The popularity of this album ensured that Selena will forever be remembered for this look.

14. Selena’s Grammy

The Selena Museum

For all of Selena’s talent and popularity, she was honored with many awards in her career. The prize of that collection is the 1994 Grammy she won for Best Mexican/American Album. This Grammy made history for the first win by a female Tejano singer. There’s no telling how many more of these she would have won had her life not been cut tragically short.

15. The plaque honoring Selena’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

The Selena Museum

In 2017, Selena was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The ceremony drew 4,500 fans — the largest gathering to ever attend an unveiling. This plaque was presented to the Quintanilla family to commemorate the historic event and moreover recognize Selena’s legacy.

16. Buckles celebrating Selena’s Houston Rodeo preformances

The Selena Museum

Selena played the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo a total of three times. While all three concerts drew huge crowds, her 1995 appearance broke attendance records for the Houston Astrodome. Following the concerts, these commemorative belt buckles were presented to Selena to celebrate her successful shows.

17. A custom Selena guitar from the Fiesta de la Flor

The Selena Museum

Every year, celebrations of Selena’s life happen all over the world. One such event happens in Corpus Christi. Since 2014, Fiesta de la Flor — an event with music, food, a mercado and all things Chicano — has been held for Selena’s memory. At the Selena Museum, you can see a custom guitar that bares the Queen of Tejano’s face from the event.

18. Selena’s jewelry collection

As someone who lived for fashion, it’s only natural that Selena would love a good accessory. The Selena Museum has on display a large collection of jewelry owned and worn by the musician herself. Some items were gifts from loved ones like husband Chris, while others were gifted by fans.

19. Condolence letters from world figures

The Selena Museum

When Selena passed away, the whole world mourned. The loss of such a vibrant, beautiful and kind young woman was such a tragedy that even world leaders took notice. On display at the Selena Museum are several noted condolence letters from the likes of Larry King, President Bill Clinton, and then-Texas Governor George W. Bush.

20. Selena’s famous purple jumpsuit

Remember that record-breaking performance at the Houston Rodeo? Even if you’ve never seen footage of the big event, there’s no doubt that you’ve seen Selena’s look from that night. The famous purple jumpsuit she wore to the 1995 Houston Rodeo has become the most recognizable outfit from Selena’s memorable wardrobe. At the Selena Museum, you can take a selfie with it and immortalize your love for the Queen of Tejano.

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20 Latinas Advice on How to Travel Safely in Latin America

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20 Latinas Advice on How to Travel Safely in Latin America

Latin America is not a dangerous place for travelers. Traveling safely across the region is just as possible as anywhere else in the world. Fearmongering has been used in an attempt to frighten female travelers in order to deter them from exploring an entire region of the world after the tragic murders of Carla Stefaniak, Maria Mathus Tenorio, and Arcanza Gutiérrez López in Costa Rica. Theses horrific violent events are isolated, yet they’ve been sensationalized in order to make travelers feel unsafe in Latin America and instill fear.

To dispel this negative narrative we’ve spoken to 25 Latinas to get their actionable travel safety tips for traveling the LATAM region.

1.  Trust your gut.

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“Be a good judge of character, meeting new people abroad is part of the fun when traveling. Trusting your intuition and the vibes you get off people is so important. When you’re alone you have to just trust your gut instinct. If you don’t feel the vibe of a certain situation or person, just leave. Text any friend or family member, go to the nearest local restaurant/shop or report to the police immediately letting them know of any sketchy situation. At the end of the day traveling solo is the most rewarding experience you can have. Don’t let the media change your mind about traveling to Latin America. Form your own opinion by visiting yourself!” – Stephanie of Wanderlust Beauty Dreams

2. Travel with a padlock.

@rosaalexc / Instagram

“Keep your valuables locked up, always bring a lock that way if your hotel doesn’t offer a safe you can lock your luggage.” – Rosa of The Traveling Roses

3. Utilize free professional travel resources.

@wanderlustbeautydreams / Instagram

“Many local tourism boards and conventions bureaus have lists of trusted hotels and tours for every budget, which can, in turn, help you find other providers (such as transportation and food). You can also look to travel guides and recommendation sites for additional feedback from real customers. You’ll always need to be a little more vigilant when you’re out of your comfort zone, but if you plan accordingly, Latin America will feel just like home in no time.” – Monica

4. Don’t draw attention with expensive accessories.

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“When I go to the beach, I place my belongings in a plastic bag as the locals would, and bring as little as possible. When I’m walking in the city streets, I only wear non-flashy costume jewelry. I keep anything of value like money or identification in my bra. This makes pick-pocketing pretty tricky!” – Ashley of Rhinestone Rambler

5. Don’t be an obvious tourist–be an observant one.

@babesandbeignets / Instagram

“You should always be aware that you’re going to stand out as a tourist; when you’re taking photos or when you are trying to find your way around. Plan your itineraries and routes in advance. When taking out your camera and phone be aware of who is around you and put them away once you don’t need them. You don’t need to be flashing our expensive pieces of technologies in countries where the majority of the population lives under the poverty line.” – Alessandra of Babes and Beignets

6. Don’t be too trusting.

@nomadic_chica / Instagram

“Be nice enough, but don’t 100% trust anyone. Don’t give too much information about yourself to anyone. Show you’re confident and not scared, you will look like a foreigner living there and not as a new scared and lost tourist.” – Gloria of Nomadic Chica

7. Avoid drugs and handle your own drink.

@mapsnbags / Instagram

“Say no to drugs, even when your new buddies are using. Pour your own drinks, needless to explain why. Don’t let the fear of missing out put you in a dangerous situation.” – Bruna of Maps ‘N Bags

8. Be clear about your boundaries.

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“Latin America is a big region, there are many countries and cities. Latinos are very affectionate and love giving hugs and having physical contact. They might not have other intentions other than to be friendly but if you’re not used to it or you don’t feel comfortable: say it clearly.” – Justine of Talk Travel

9. Try group travel.

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“For group travel, do your best to stay together. Group travel can be hard with all the personalities but know when you can solo it out and when to just go with the group. – Francheska

10. Get to know your destination in the daylight.

@mapsnbags / Instagram

11. Buy a local sim card.

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“Get a phone sim card, it’s cheap and having internet will help you navigate. Use Google Maps to save the place where you’ll be staying so you can track the taxi route. If you ever get a bit lost don’t look up directions on the street, get inside a store, cafe and check there.” – Carina of Power Latina Shop

12. Know what kind of crime is common.

@lewildexplorer / Instagram

“My safety advice for anyone visiting Latin America is the same for anyone going anywhere in the world. I avoid walking around in unfamiliar and unpopulated areas after dark. Educate yourself on what to look out for, whether it’s pickpockets or something more serious like gang violence. There are bad areas almost everywhere in the world, knowing more about where you’re going and areas to avoid will help you stay vigilant. Being informed about a place is not to instill fear but instead is to use that knowledge in a positive way.” – Jeanine of Le Wild Explorer

13. Don’t dress like a tourist.

@kissupcheon / Instagram

“Anytime a woman is traveling alone, she must be aware of her surroundings. You want to blend in. Dress like the locals, not a tourist. Keep your money tucked away, don’t be flashing your dinero. Keep maps hidden, don’t be walking around looking at a map. Familiarize yourself with the area before you arrive.” – Rosalynda of Mixed Blessings Blog

14. Be mindful of how you wear your purse.

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“I always wear my purse crossbody. The reason is for people who are purse snatchers to overlook me because I may be a more difficult target. Carry only a copy of your passport, leave the real one in a safe place. Carry the cash you’ll need for the day and night only.” – Madelyn of Karma Free Cooking

15. Listen to local advice about not-so-safe areas

@thehavekosts / Instagram

“Be wary of which areas you are visiting, especially at night, and most especially if locals are telling you not to go. Do your research, cross reference with locals on the ground, and listen to their advice. Use Uber’s or local taxi apps because they save driver information easily, or call for a taxi and write down driver information to send to someone trusted before you get in (call them and tell them in front of the driver). Make sure taxi driver information matches up (license, doors, license information because sometimes they don’t match up. You have to use street smarts to get around in Latin America, but other than that, you’ll have a wonderful time!” – Alexandra Tracy of Travel Latina

16. Only take advice from people who’ve actually been to your destination.

@marlene_ramirezzz / Instagram

“Nowadays, with so many informative resources online based on actual people’s experience, I would suggest searching what locals, expats, and people who have visited the country you want to visit have to say. Consider their advice as guidance when you travel. Join Facebook groups for people living in the city you want to visit and connect with locals. Let them know you are planning a trip and ask if they have any tips for you. It’s about being prepared with insight, finding unbiased resources, and being aware of your surroundings.” – Maritza of Travel Notes and Things

17. Learn some local lingo.

@mommypowers / Instagram

“Do your research! Try to get to know the culture and the language. Learn some basics of the language of the country you’re visiting. Be respectful and conscious of their cultural traditions as well.”  – Vanessa, Designer of Wais Clothing

18. Know how border crossing work.

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“If you’re crossing by land into Mexico, know what time the various border crossings close. Look at websites that give out the wait times at crossings. If you get pulled over by a police officer, ask for the name of the officer, badge number, and license plate number of the vehicle. If the stop isn’t legitimate, the officer might get spooked and leave you alone. Most gas stations in Mexico are full service. To avoid being shorted by the gas attendant, make sure the meter is zeroed out before the attendant pumps.”  – Veneranda

19. Enroll in STEP before traveling.

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“It’s important to register your trip with the US Embassy STEP Program. This will keep you up to date with any potential dangers in your designated travel area. In addition, this will ensure you’re included in the headcount of people they need to search for in case of any catastrophe. Once you’ve enrolled, make sure to identify the closest U.S. embassy to where you’re staying and provide that information to a family member or friend.” – Roxana of Latina Nomad

20. Be smart about the news you read.

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“So you’re going to a high-crime area. What does that mean? Petty theft is annoying, but it’s not the same as violent crimes like rape. Crime statistics are widely available on the internet. Look them up and find out if what you’re reading in the news is catastrophizing an isolated incident or really reflective of an ongoing problem. Compare crime stats to places you’d go in the U.S. It’s easier to acquire guns in the U.S. than in many LATAM countries. After you’ve assessed your actual risk level, find out what you need to do in the worst case scenario. How is violence against women reported and prosecuted? Are there local groups that can help? How do you contact the police? How do you access a hospital? The only thing worse than being assaulted is being assaulted and not being able to report it and receive treatment.” – Ruth of Ruth Writes

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