Category Archives: Central America

Sep 26 2008

How you experience the food crisis depends on where you live

People with the means to cope with rising prices experience the food crisis through the news.

But people living in poverty experience the food crisis directlyóthrough their stomachs.

Take the story of Sandra, a 38-year-old mother of four who lives in El Salvador. She no longer can afford to buy certain food items. If it wasnít for CFCA benefits, her children wouldnít have milk to drink. Sandra makes about $6 a day selling lemons in the public market. When things get bad, the family eats tortillas and margarine for dinner.

In Kenya, 20-year-old Peter said his family canít afford to buy bread. Meat? Only for Christmas, Kenyan Independence Day and weddings. Breakfast? Tea with milk and sugar.

In Antipolo, Philippines, 45-year-old Myrna is a mother of seven. She does laundry for $5 a day when her carpenter husband doesnít have work. On days with lower income, the family eats porridge or skips meals. On paydays, they are able to enjoy rice with fish and vegetables. One of Myrnaís children is sponsored through CFCA.

Two mothers in Hyderabad, IndiaóBhulakshmi and Maniósaid their cost of food has doubled in a year. They must be satisfied with rice and pickles because they no longer can afford fruits and vegetables.

These are the hidden faces behind statistics reported by the U.S. Department of Agricultureís Economic Research Service. The ERS compared expenditures on food in countries around the world (as a percentage of total expenditures using 2006 dataónot including restaurant purchases):

United States††††† †† 5.7%
United Kingdom††††8.8%
Germany††††††††††††† †11.5%
Chile†††††††††††††††††††† 23.5%
Mexico††††††††††††††††††24.3%
Philippines††††††††††† 37.6%
Ecuador†††††††††††††††† 21.8%
Bolivia†††††††††††††††††† 29.0%
Peru†††††††††††††††††††††† 29.3%
India††††††††††††††††† ††† 33.4%††

Wondering if there’s more you can do to help? Read about CFCA’s Food Crisis Assistance Fund.

To view the full U.S. Department of Agriculture report, click here.

Time.com published a photographic comparison of what families in different nations eat in a weekís time. Click here to see this photo essay.

By Monte Mace, writer and editor in the CFCA-Kansas City office. With reporting and photography from Henry Flores, El Salvador; Sister Joanne Gangloff, Kenya; and Maria Lourdes Navio in the Philippines.

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Sep 19 2008

“I’ve been waiting a very long time for you”

Sponsors Jack and Deanne Anderson visited their sponsored child, Jose, in Guatemala this year. Here Deanne describes the experience of meeting Jose.

When you listen to the words of Bob Hentzen’s song ìLove the Childrenî not much else needs to be said. Our trip to Guatemala proved to be one of the most beautiful and meaningful events we have experienced in a long time.

Jack and I have been blessed with three children and seven grandchildren. We are a close family and we have many dear friends. We have traveled all over the world, but nothing prepared us for what we experienced going to Guatemala to meet our sponsored child, Jose.

Immediately upon our arrival Bob and his staff made us feel like we were special. We had no idea what was in store for us. That night we met the people we would be spending the week with and got to know a little more about CFCA. Next morning we loaded into the vans and off we went on a three-hour journey to the CFCA project. The welcome we received was that of royalty or movie stars. The children were all cheering and their band was playing. It was unbelievable. That evening after dinner the sponsored children gave a performance. The first of a nightly event we all looked forward to.

Sponsor Deanne meets her sponsored child, Jose, in Guatemala.

Sponsor Deanne meets her sponsored child, Jose, in Guatemala.

Monday was the day Jack and I had been waiting for; we were going to meet Jose, our sponsored child. The emotions we felt the moment we saw him cannot be put into words, or if I did try it would take many pages of typing. His mom, dad, and little niece came with him so there was lots of hugging and tears. Then came the joy and excitement of getting to know each other through a great interpreter. Again, I wish I could share each moment of the time we spent together. All the sponsored children gave a little performance and Jose’s was a beautiful poem he wrote for Jack and me. Well more tears and hugs followed. We took lots and lots of pictures and loved each minute we had with him.

Finally, it was time to say goodbye. Again, more hugs and tears of joy when we knew we would be back again to visit this very special child the Lord brought into our lives. One thing I must share are the words of Jose when he looked at Jack and I with tears in his eyes and said, “I’ve been waiting a very long time for you.”
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Sep 17 2008

Bob’s report: Visit to Honduras

Mission Awareness Trip
Aug. 23 ñ 30, 2008

What kind of a country can we offer them?

Alongside a tremendous wealth gap, endemic corruption, organized crime and neighborhood gangs, you see the beauty of family relationships, the inspiring example of a struggling mother, the youthful spirit with close to half the population under age 19, a fertile land and a strong work ethic.

We can add a tremendous resilience after tragedies like Hurricane Mitch (1998) which killed some 5,000 and destroyed 70 percent of the crops. Unfortunately, thousands of promising Hondurans, most of them young, leave the country every year, most of them for the U.S. Basically, they are seduced by human traffickers who rake in $5,000-$6,000 per head per trip north. Farm families abandon their land and go into life-threatening debt for this one chance. When the sojourners are caught and deported, the families remain in debt for many years.†

Family testimony at morning prayer

Our group arrived for Sunday morning Mass at Las Mercedes Parish in El Progresso after the church was full, so we rounded out the doorway, greeting Father Raymond Pease, a veteran of 40 years in El Progreso.

Lourdes, her son, Cristian, 11, and daughter, Katia, 13, gave a beautiful testimony as part of our morning prayer on the second day of the trip. Lourdes and Wilfredo (working today) have seven children. They have hopes for better housing for their family, but for now, they are living in one room on property owned by Lourdesí mother. Lourdes is very grateful for the sponsorship of Cristian and Katia, so grateful that she serves as a liaison with the 169 sponsored families in Barrio Sandoval in San Pedro Sula.

We had a pleasant drive from San Pedro Sula, and then enjoyed several nice receptions by children and families, complete with hand-made banners and lots of hymns. One of the dads, Don Lorenzo, shared a song which he had composed about CFCA. Moms and dads talked of their participation (by the hundreds) in the various aspects of the project.†
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Sep 17 2008

Bob’s report: August visit to Guatemala

Mission Awareness Trip
Aug. 9-16, 2008

Since the early days of CFCA, the children, elderly and families of Guatemala have been close to our hearts. Currently we are blessed to have over 90,000 sponsored, including children, aging, scholars and vocations. In turn, these families have been blessed with a loving and devoted CFCA staff. Cristina and I are most grateful to call this CFCA community home.

Featuring Manuel Santizo

Manuel (Meme) Santizo is one of those strong and faithful servants who seem to enjoy working hard, but usually very much in the background. Meme is our site manager and handles everything related to maintenance and improvement of the CFCA facilities. Our place in San Lucas Toliman hums with activity, either staff workshops or mission awareness trips or welcoming our neighborhood children in their Ecological Club. In every instance, youíll find Meme quietly getting things done, and always with a smile. Meme is married to Claudia, a Mayan woman of the Kakchiquel ethnic group and a career elementary teacher in the nearby village of El Naranjo.

Welcome to my worldÖpotential

All over the CFCA world, we endeavor to present the most positive side of Godís humble people. CFCA Presenter Fr. Jim OíToole radiates excitement when he says, ìWe see potential.î Focusing on dignity and potential, we try to avoid shock treatment on our sponsors. The daily reality of our sponsored families is shocking enough.†
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Aug 8 2008

Bob’s report: Visit to El Salvador

Mission awareness trip
July 12 ñ 19, 2008

From Guatemala to El Salvador

A team of four of us from Guatemala (Jorge Armas, Israel Itzol, Cristina and myself) had the privilege of spending a couple of days with the mission awareness trip group and the staff in El Salvador. We arrived precisely when all the sponsored children were gathered with the sponsors at Cerro Verde, high above Lake Coatepeque.

On Thursday, we were divided into four groups to visit communities, interact with the sponsored families, organize and document the distribution of benefits. This experience offered the sponsors a close-up view of the personal outreach which characterizes CFCA. I enjoyed being with the mothers and children in the subproject of Bolanos.

CFCA mothers of the Bolanos subproject

CFCA mothers of the Bolanos subproject

In the course of the morning, we took a quick survey. Around 70 percent of these mothers in Bolanos are heads of households, raising their beautiful children on their own. They need and deeply appreciate the CFCA program.

Contagious Enthusiasm

The enthusiasm of this El Salvador trip group is expansive. So far on this mission awareness trip, they have sponsored 20 new children. They have been able to meet each one.

On to Colombia

My wife, Cristina, and I are on our way now to begin the mission awareness trip in Bogot·, Colombia. We are deeply grateful for the opportunity to spend this time with the sponsors, together walking with the sponsored families.

Godís blessings.

Bob Hentzen
From El Salvador

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Aug 8 2008

Bob’s report: July visit to Guatemala

Mission awareness trip
July 12 – 19, 2008

Alcida and Kevin

Sunday morning in Guatemala City finds us hosting not only the arriving sponsors but a special sponsored family as well. Alcida came to thank the sponsors and especially sponsor Sylvia for all they are doing for her youngest son, Kevin. Alcida has a good husband who works as a stockman in a warehouse.

Alcida and Kevin

Alcida and Kevin

This loving family has also been confronted with challenges. Kevin, enthusiastic and likable at 14, was diagnosed at age 10 with a serious kidney problemóserious enough that the doctors are currently considering a transplant, with the mother as donor. During his nine years of sponsorship, Kevin has continued to excel in his studies. His hope and dream is to go on to higher studies. Kevinís mother expresses that he is an inspiration to her and to the family.††

At home in Iximche

At the Mayan Ruins of Iximche, we were blessed with a cool and breezy morning. The children, mothers and staff from the CFCA project in Patzun had prepared folkloric numbers. They seemed to fit naturally in our open-air theater. The outfits, dance numbers and songs demonstrate great love and creativity.

Sponsors were able to visit the ruins and then enjoyed a hot lunch under the high pine trees. We take our leave and make our way through the highlands and on to San Lucas Toliman in time for the 5:00 p.m. Mass. We are fortunate to have Father Greg Shaffer here in San Lucas.

Sponsor Andrea with Martha (far right) and family. Martha sang for us in her native Tzutuhil language.

Sponsor Andrea with Martha (far right) and family. Martha sang for us in her native Tzutuhil language.

My estimate is that over 400 sponsored children, youth, aging, staff and sponsors spent this July day with us. The day was as they sayÖìAlegreî (happy). Every sponsored person was present and accounted for, traveling from many corners of this country. The sponsored shared about their home areas, their families, their hobbies and their studies. Several sponsored children stood before this audience and recited poems they had composed for their sponsors.†
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Jul 28 2008

Her parents bought her shoes…

Bart and Annie Winter are volunteering with CFCA for a year†in Ocotepeque, Honduras. They arrived in Honduras just a few weeks ago, and will be sharing their experiences with us throughout the year.

There are many significant moments in every life. In the life of a sponsored elderly woman named DoÒa Delia, those moments include her marriage, the births and deaths of her children, and, also of importance, the fact that as a child, her parents bought her shoes.

The following is a glimpse into the life of one member of the CFCA family here in Ocotepeque.

DoÒa Delia poses for a picture near the project offices.

DoÒa Delia poses for a picture near the project offices.

On Monday, Miriam (the project coordinator) invited us to visit one of the sponsored elderly who has been ill. Her name is MarÌa Delia, but she goes by DoÒa Delia. She is 74 years old and lives in a tiny (6◊6 ft) house, which consists of a dirt floor, four mud walls and a patchwork tin roof. She has no electricity, running water or latrine.

On the way to her house, Miriam tells us that DoÒa Delia has quite a personality. Sheís known for wearing pants under her dresses and her favorite hat is similar to one that a drum major might wear to lead a parade. Later, upon reviewing DoÒa Deliaís file, we also learn that she likes to wear makeup so that she looks nice for the people she meets. It is clear that she is a strong, spunky individual despite her age and the circumstances of her life.

DoÒa Delia was born†in 1934, to her parents, Francisca and Arturo. As a little girl, she helped provide for her family by making cigars and quesadillas to sell on the streets. She was never able to attend school, so she never learned to read or write. She remembers that her parents bought her a pair of shoes – a significant point of pride because, at that time, most children went barefoot. At the age of 14, DoÒa Delia married her boyfriend, Merejildo. She went on to give birth to 14 children, 8 of whom died either at birth or as babies. When she was 40, her husband died, and after a time, she began to go with Rafael Antonio. Since then, they have lived in a poor neighborhood within the city limits of Ocotepeque.

Tucked into the corner of an overgrown lot in this forgotten neighborhood sits DoÒa Deliaís house. Smoke from her small adobe oven pours out from the 6 inch gap between her walls and her roof. Upon entering her humble home, the first thing that strikes you is the heat. The second thing that strikes you is DoÒa Delia, lying upon her bed in a red sweatshirt and sweatpants, with a matching handkerchief tied around her hair. Despite the heat, she is covered in a wool blanket. Her face is soft, like worn leather, but her eyes are alert and she is quick to smile at the sight of Miriam, or la profesora, as everyone here calls her.
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