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'Hidden Heroes' recognizes Barranquilla resident in Chicago

Jorge Ortega and other Colombians were praised by the Colombian Embassy in Washington for their solidarity and support of the Latino community.

40 years ago he set foot on American soil for the first time. His heart was still tied to his Barranquilla roots but he knew that he had a lot to do in that distant country. Jorge Luis Ortega is a resident of Chicago, Illinois (USA), and the founder of 'El Gran Festival Colombiano' held in this same city. This commemorates the date of Colombia's independence every July 20. He also leads the group Big Congo, which pays tribute to the Barranquilla party.

In 2019, the festival broke its own record and attracted more than 20,000 attendees, including Colombians and other foreigners. Each edition brings together artists and other guests who make this celebration a suitable space to remember the struggle of our country.

Ortega belongs to a company that he has built over the years with his family, called Ortega Brothers. It is an event production company that has done many social projects aimed at supporting Latinos residing in Chicago.

During the pandemic, Ortega Brothers, in the company of several organizations, churches and their funds, supported the delivery of nearly 10,000 free markets, benefiting the community in Chicago, including Colombians. He personally brought markets to several of them.

Since the entertainment sector was so affected, Jorge Ortega and his family were forced to suspend their work. However, characterized by reaching out to others, his usual job took a backseat and he began his social work to help Colombians residing in “the windy city” who were strongly impacted by the health crisis.

“The bridge between these people who looked for me was through social networks. Furthermore, with 'The Great Colombian Festival', our countrymen already identify us. Every year we do social work through this festival, especially with low-income populations,” the volunteer told EL HERALDO.

Many of the people who benefited from the markets and other supplies were positive for Covid-19, therefore, the desire to alleviate the situation of the sick was greater. However, after working for this infected population, Jorge also tested positive for coronavirus and was quarantined for a month. Despite this, he continued to take charge of the logistics of the aid delivered from home.

He also said that he experienced a sad episode due to the death of his father last July, who died in Barranquilla.

The tribute

Seeing how his and his family's efforts have been recognized with the title of 'Hidden Heroes' fills Jorge Ortega with pride and happiness. He thanks the Consulate for taking him into account for this tribute, which gives him more impetus to continue working for the Colombian and Latin community that needs assistance.

“I was very surprised when I received the news because I am a person who does not like attention. However, I am very honored and grateful. Furthermore, I was raised like this, with the thought that I should not expect anything in return when I give something,” said Ortega.

“We are proud to highlight Colombians in the United States who reflect hope, solidarity and greatness. “They are hidden values of discreet people who deserve to be recognized and applauded,” said the Colombian ambassador to the United States, Francisco Santos.

Among the Colombians honored are volunteers who helped distribute food, among other support activities. They are: Sandra Liliana Pedraza, Carlos Alberto Londoño, Alberto Olarte Serna, Nicolás Fernández, Rubén Arcila, Milton Riveros Riveros, Jose Luis Ortega, Wilfrido Villa, Osman Lisardo Pineda, Andrés Leonardo Sepúlveda, Angie Venegas, María Elena Durán, Natalia Mejía and Gabriel Rodriguez.

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