Category Archives: Central America

Dec 22 2008

The patience of the poor

The final days of Advent are filled with anticipation for the birth of Christ. Father Vince Haselhorst, a CFCA board member and preacher, shares his observations of the people he met during the†preachers mission awareness trip to El Salvador Dec. 2-9. Father Haselhorst is a priest of the Diocese of Belleville, Ill.

What a tremendous way to begin this season of Advent, this time of waiting, spending this first week with these gentle, loving people who understand all too well what it means to wait.

They wait for the rains to come so they can plant their crops. They wait for the harvest while praying that it will be sufficient to sustain them for another year. They wait for the sun to rise so they can go to work in their fields or to other work. They wait for a bus so that they can go and sell their products.†

Parents wait, as Mary did, for the birth of their children. They wait for them to grow up,†hoping and praying that they will have a better life than they themselves have and that they will choose a right pathway for their lives.

What a privilege to be able to walk with them these few precious days on our common journey!

-Father Vince Haselhorst

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Dec 16 2008

Residents of Santa Teresita celebrate Christmas

Las Posadas is a Christmas tradition celebrated throughout Latin America commemorating the arduous journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem. Each evening from Dec. 16 ñ Dec. 24, CFCA sponsored members and their families from the community of Santa Teresita, Guatemala, hold a candlelit procession to a different home. They sing songs, pray and end the evening enjoying traditional food and refreshments, such as tamales and fruit punch.

Make your own tamales

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Dec 16 2008

Make your own Christmas tamales

In Latin America, the traditional Christmas fare is tamales. Tamales originated in Mexico but today, every Latin American culture has its own version. While tamales vary from country to country, all are made with a corn or rice dough steamed inside a leaf. Most tamales are filled with meat and sauce, but some are sweetened and filled with raisins. Making tamales is a labor-intensive process that can take several days. Watch how the residents of Santa Teresita make their tamales.

Mexican tamales

Allow two days for preparation.

4 lb. package of maseca for tamales (available at Hispanic grocery stores)
10 lb. chicken pieces
3 c. oil
4 T. salt
4 T. baking powder
1 package each of chiles anchos, chiles California and chiles de arbol
1 lb. corn husks

Prepare the chiles
1. Pour hot water over all the chiles and let soften for one hour.
2. Puree the mixture in a blender.
3. Strain through a colander to remove seeds and skin

You may want to wear vinyl gloves because the chile oil can burn your hands.

Prepare the chicken
1. Remove the skin and boil the chicken with salt until the meat is cooked.
2. Remove the bones and tear the chicken into small pieces.
3. Saute chicken pieces with the strained chiles in 2 T. oil and 1 tsp. salt. Set aside.

Prepare the masa (dough)
1. Mix maseca, baking power, salt and oil with enough lukewarm water to give it the texture of playdough.
2. Knead the dough for one hour.

Prepare the corn husks
1. Soak the husks in hot water overnight.
2. Remove from the water and rinse.

Prepare the tamales
1. Spread one husk out flat.
2. Spread with a thin layer of masa, about Ω inch thick.
3. Add 1-2 T. of the chile/chicken mixture in the middle of the dough.
4. Fold all sides to the center, adding a bit of dough inside the ends to keep the chicken mixture from oozing out.
5. Steam in 2î of water in a large pot or tamale cooker covered tightly with aluminum foil for several hours on medium high.
6. Let sit for 1 hour

Enjoy with sour cream and hot sauce. Eat them anytime, breakfast, lunch or dinner. Tamales can be stored up to a week in the refrigerator or for 3 months in the freezer.

In Mexico, tamales are eaten traditionally during the Christmas season with champorrado, a hot, spicy drink made with maseca.

Recipe courtesy of Martha Cromer

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Dec 11 2008

Bobís report: Visit to El Salvador and Honduras

Preachers mission awareness trip
Dec. 2-9, 2008

CFCA preachers make history with first preacher awareness trip

This is a very special group and a very special opportunity for all participants, for the projects, for our beloved sponsored and for CFCA.†Nine CFCA†preachers attended†our first preacher†awareness trip to gain a deeper sense of the CFCA world. The El Salvador hosts were the sponsored families, Henry Flores, Yessenia Alfaro and the entire CFCA team. In Honduras, the hosts were the sponsored families, CFCA staff leaders Miriam Cartagena, Luis Jaco and the entire CFCA Team.

participants

On Dec. 3, CFCA scholar Martita spoke in our opening prayer. Abandoned by her father when she was just 2, her mother struggled to send her children to school. Martita will graduate in one year with a bachelorís in computer science and administration. After learning that Martitaís CFCA scholarship covered only half of her university expenses, Father Jim OíToole stepped forward and offered to become her sponsor.

Personal stories stand out

Tradition among the sponsored families in Tacuba is to silently hide in the church and surprise the mission awareness trip participants who arrive thinking that the town is still asleep. Father Bob Hasenkamp celebrated Holy Mass with Salvadoran Father Edwin Roberto Nunez.

When speaking of language limitations, Father Bob Hasenkamp mentioned that ìwe speak with our eyes and our hearts.î

Family visits along with natural and stimulating interchanges followed. The preachers commented that they were hearing really fine anecdotes for their personal edification and for their preaching.
Read more

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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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