From Tears to Triumph, My Journey to The House of Hope


Linda Bello-Ruiz


At the age of thirteen, I could be found racing go-karts with my brothers, riding my bike up and down country roads, running through the vineyards of my home town, Redwood Valley, California, and picking grapes or gathering acorns for spending money.

In Costa Rica, 4,000 miles away, a little girl by the name of Ana Cecilia was born into an impoverished family.

At eighteen, I left my home behind in the rear-view mirror of my new Toyota Corona and headed off to college. From an early age I wanted to help others, and I went to college to obtain a degree in sociology.

While I was starting my coursework at Sonoma State College, five-year-old Ana Cecilia was losing her mother to cancer. Left to fend for herself and her two younger siblings, she begged for food on the streets, scrounged through garbage cans, and wondered why her father stayed away for so many hours of the day. 

My journey took me through the hippie scene in San Francisco, to joining the radical religious commune, The Children of God, to a jail cell in Mexico, and a road trip into Costa Rica--never imagining that a young, scared little girl waited for me to somehow find her. 

This is my story: From Tears to Triumph, My Journey to The House of Hope. It’s also Ana Cecilia’s story and the story of many others who passed through The House of Hope.


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