Apr 3 2013

Helping families achieve self-sufficiency, part 3: Guatemala

CFCA sponsored friend

Floridalma and her daughters, Bridia (left), sponsored through CFCA, and Lilian (right).

By Kristin Littrell, CFCA correspondent

CFCA is not a one-size-fits-all organization. We rely on our field staffs to know the families in each community, to listen to their needs and hopes, and to provide a program that empowers them to build a path out of poverty.

In the final post in this three-part blog series, we give you a window into several CFCA communities, to gauge the success of the Hope for a Family sponsorship program.

It takes 20 minutes on the back of a motorcycle, up steep and narrow dirt roads, to get to Floridalma’s home.

She lives in Chuixilon, a small Guatemalan village, where rolling fields of strawberries are sheltered by the peaks of nearby mountains. It is beautiful and remote. The air smells like strawberries mixed with fresh pine, and only the moon and the stars light the streets at night.

Floridalma lives with her family in a very simple home made of adobe walls, a dirt floor and a tin roof.

Bridia helps milk the family cow.

Bridia helps milk the family cow.

Behind the home, a cow munches on fresh, juicy corn leaves, under the canopy of a rustic cow house, giving a loud “moo” as a sign that she approves of the meal.

It’s not a stretch to say this cow has changed the course of Floridalma’s life.

Floridalma always wanted to own a cow, and after her daughter was sponsored through CFCA, this dream became reality. CFCA provided $150 to buy a calf, and for the next 12 months Floridalma paid $12.50 from her daughter’s sponsorship support to repay the loan.

The calf grew into a large milk-producing cow. She has also provided Floridalma and her family with a baby calf.

With this new family addition, Floridalma’s small business was born.

Early each morning, just as the sun begins to rise, Floridalma greets her cow and gets fresh milk for her family and her customers.

She uses two plastic boxes to form an improvised milk stand, and sells milk by the glass to neighbors. Any milk she is unable to sell she uses to make cheese, which she sells door-to-door the following day.

Her eyes light up with pride as she talks about how the cow has changed her family’s life.

Floridalma sells her fresh milk to neighbors.

Floridalma sells her fresh milk to neighbors.

“With my cow and my work, I can now buy shoes for my children,” Floridalma said. “Now my little girls have fresh milk every day. I was never able to afford a glass of milk for them [before]. My cow is providing a fixed income for me and my family.”

The Hope for a Family sponsorship program is about more than increasing a standard of living. It’s about helping families provide for their children, giving them access to resources, and ultimately, about sparking hope that change really is possible.

“Now I no longer go to the fields to work under the sun or under the rain; I have my own business at home and I am able to provide better care for my little girls,” Floridalma said. “I have learned that change only happens when we work for a change.

“CFCA has enabled my family to hope for a better future. I am grateful for the gift of sponsorship.”

More about Hope for a Family in Guatemala

Maria Dolores Ruyan Chali, CFCA staffer

Maria Dolores Ruyan Chali, CFCA staffer

Maria Dolores Ruyan Chali, CFCA staffer, tells us about the Hope for a Family program in Guatemala.

Throughout my years with CFCA, I have seen how our sponsorship program has evolved to provide better service and benefits to our families. When I started with CFCA we did not have tailored benefits; we would provide shoes, clothes, cleaning supplies or food supplies for everyone, regardless of their priority at that time.

Then, we started working with strategic planning and we began to listen to the expressed needs of our sponsored friends and their families. Strategic planning gave us the opportunity to have goals and a path to reach those goals.

Social workers are out in the communities visiting the families. They see their needs firsthand, and, by doing so, they help the families discover their potential.

In the past, the communities were accustomed to a “receiving” pattern; they were only consuming the goods that CFCA was providing. Our dream for them is to become self-sufficient.

We wanted to help them meet their families’ needs as well as generate some extra income.

We have seen families generate income through their work by harvesting flowers, sweet peas, string beans, corn, beans, carrots, strawberries and other crops.

And by raising their farm animals, and then selling the meat, eggs and milk, families are now taking greater advantage of the things they receive from their sponsor. Families are being empowered, and they believe they can do much greater things like start a small business.

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One thought on “Helping families achieve self-sufficiency, part 3: Guatemala”

  1. When I was a boy in Iowa, I would spend parts of the summers staying with my aunts and uncles on their farms. It was an adventure for me to gather eggs from the henhouse, hand milk the cows (I wasn’t very good at it), “slop” the hogs, and all the things that go along with farm life. It was fun, but these were just short diversions from my normal routine in the non-farming community in which I lived. It was a break for my parents. Looking back – all my aunts and uncles have passed on – these were some of the best times of my life. I feel a tremendous kinship with those who live and make their living off the land. I am so proud of CFCA for making these opportunities possible.

    I truly believe that my aunts and uncles are smiling down on the work of CFCA, and on me, knowing that they made a wonderful impression on my life.

    Steve Williamson

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