In Colombia, one in five girls age 15-19 is or has been pregnant, nearly triple the U.S. rate.
And in the city of Cartagena, where one-third of residents live in extreme poverty, many of these young moms don't have a chance to improve their lives.
But Catalina Escobar is working to change that through her foundation and its teen mothers program. Her group aims to teach young women how to support themselves and their children, and since 2002, Escobar has helped empower more than 2,000 teen moms.
CNN asked Escobar for her thoughts on being chosen as one of the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2012.
CNN: What do you hope this recognition will mean to the Juan Felipe Gomez Escobar Foundation?
Catalina Escobar: This award means a great deal to me and to the foundation. It is the most effective and quickest way to tell everyone around the globe that in Colombia, we can do serious philanthropy, where our models really work to make social transformations.
But we also want to show that in a little corner of Colombia, there is a great social inequality and despair like happens in India, Africa or Haiti.
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