Tag Archives: Central America

Jan 3 2011

How different parts of the world celebrate the New Year

We asked CFCA communication liaisons to describe how they celebrated the New Year in their countries. Here are three reports:

Guatemala

In my beautiful country Guatemala, New Yearís celebrations are prepared with great joy, and our customs and traditions give this year-end feast a special touch.

Traditionally, we receive the New Year with a delicious Guatemalan tamale on the table, prepared from corn, chicken or pork ñ salty or sweet with grapes and raisins ñ and also a hot cup of fruit punch or traditional hot chocolate.

fireworks

We all enjoy dinner as a family waiting for midnight. And then … young and old enter the streets to illuminate the night sky with firecrackers and fireworks.

The tremendous noise announcing the New Year is heard across the whole country.

Beside our Christmas tree and next to the nativity scene, locally called “El Nacimiento,” we say a family prayer.

It all ends with strong hugs and often with tears of joy and emotion. -Luis CocÛn

Kenya

Fireworks lighting up the skies, cheers and ululations, cars honking ñ this is how Kenyans usher in the New Year.

On New Year’s Eve, young and old throng entertainment spots to sing, dance and drink. The towns are usually alive with activity, and music is heard from miles away.

When the long-awaited hour approaches, a countdown starts. As the clock strikes midnight, the crowd goes into a frenzy as people scream at the top of their voices and toast the New Year.

However, not everyone goes to entertainment spots. Some opt to go to evening church vigils where they sing, praise God and listen to preaching.

As the hour approaches, the faithful pray for a fruitful year filled with Godís blessings.†When midnight strikes, praise songs fill the places of worship as the New Year is dedicated to God.

Whether in churches or entertainment spots, Kenya ushers in the New Year in style.

Kenyans are a jovial lot and wherever they are, laughter fills the air as a new chapter is opened.†-Regina Mburu

El Salvador

The celebration of New Year’s Eve, or †Noche Vieja (old night), is big in El Salvador.

Families welcome the New Year with food, cumbia, merengue or salsa music, fire crackers and fireworks, as well as unique midnight ceremonies.

Before midnight, hundreds of families buy what is locally called “Estreno,” or brand-new clothing.

We have a tradition of buying brand-new outfits to be worn at night to welcome the New Year, to attract new and positive things all year long.

Streets are full of people at night; neighbors visit neighbors, share food and dance a little.

Children and teenagers usually spend most of the night popping firecrackers or fireworks.

As midnight approaches, some people prepare unique ceremonies. One is the egg ritual, where people break an egg one minute before midnight, dump it in a glass with water and let it sit as the year changes.

The egg yolk mutates into various forms, and people try to interpret them as trips, houses, etc., a sign of things to come in the New Year.

At midnight, everybody is outside. Family members hug one another; there are tears and laughs; the phone rings with calls from relatives in other countries to wish the family a Happy New Year; and neighbors embrace, offering peace and best wishes.

One hour into the New Year, streets are empty.

The distant sound of a few firecrackers reminds you that the New Year has arrived and that we must do our best to make it a really good one.†-Henry Flores

Share this post:
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Reddit Email
Dec 30 2010

Family stands strong while mother is away

When Kenia was 14, her mother moved to Costa Rica with Keniaís oldest brother to find work and left Kenia and two brothers behind. For the past two years, Kenia has been raised by her brother, Juan Carlos. Kenia and Juan Carlos are sponsored through CFCAís Hope for a Family program. Kenia talks about how the separation has affected her and her family.

How did you feel when your mother and older brother left Nicaragua for Costa Rica?

It was very sad and very difficult. But because of the country’s economic situation, they were forced to leave.

How do you feel now?

I have had to get used to it since, even though she is far away from us, she calls us always and is always waiting for us to call. It is very difficult, but life is like that. One never thinks that these things could happen.

Raul, Juan Carlos, and Kenia

From left are Raul, Juan Carlos and Kenia.

Do you miss your mother?

Yes, because she has been a very good mother, a fighter, who in spite of all that has happened, has always fought for her children’s well-being.

I always imagine that the New Year or some other vacation period is coming so that she can return and we can be together again.

Do you have family to care for you, or only Juan Carlos?

Yes, thank God that besides my brothers, Raul and Carlos, some people will give me support and strength to carry on. They are not relatives but it is as though they were. They are always watching out for me, and I am very grateful. They are the couple who are pastors of the church that I attend.

How do you help your brother at home?

We will help each other, whether with household chores, which we divide among ourselves, or with our studies with which my brother Carlos helps me as I help my younger brother Raul. So we have learned that despite things that happen, love and the unifying element of family always prevail.

Where do you go to school?

I study at an institute about four blocks from my house. I am in the fourth year of secondary school, which is a little difficult for me, but with some effort I will make headway because our lives are like a race in which you have to struggle to win the prize.

What do you want to be in your life?

God willing, next year I will graduate from secondary school. At first I wanted to study to be a teacher, but also to be a nurse, and I have decided to study nursing.

What are your dreams and hopes?

To see myself fulfilled, to obtain a professional career, work and help my mother and little brother, since my mother has been that source of strength in those moments when I feel that I cannot continue. I remember what she does for me and I continue on.

Other wishes are to have the opportunity of knowing different countries, to mix well with people and to have new friends.

Read the story about Kenia’s brother, Juan Carlos.

Share this post:
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Reddit Email
Dec 23 2010

Sponsor’s daughter writes about Guatemalan experience

We received this school essay from a CFCA sponsor’s daughter, Samantha, who visited Guatemala in September 2009 after a number of deadly mudslides. Samantha is now a high school senior and considering college options ñ including “missionary writing.” We think this is a good place to start!

Hope in the Midst of Suffering

Clanging dishes, dogs barking and a rooster crowing at 6 a.m. was not how I wanted my summer days to start. It was a beautiful morning, not a cloud in sight.

As the days passed I knew every morning would contain that inexplicable beauty. As the afternoon neared I expected a blusterous thunderstorm.

That wasn’t the only difference I found in Guatemala, contrary to my small town in the U.S.

The love I felt came from every direction, including the restless mountains and bountiful trees. Love was one thing these people held on to.

Guatemala helped me accept the diversity in their culture, to the children we sponsor and the lives they are living because of my family’s support, and to the love they encompass every person with.

CFCA stories

Their thin, porcelain-like figures helped me realize that these Guatemalans fought for their lives everyday just to get a small tamale and water, as opposed to my being used to a nice, inviting feast. Seems like such a simple gift that we often take for granted.

Tragedy overcame this country in one sweep of a storm killing many, ruining all forms of transportation. Rocks covered all roadways making walking unbearable.

The children we sponsor each month with money and letters were finally standing in front of our very eyes.

My mom’s first reaction was to let slow tears roll from her face. My brother’s was to play some soccer (f˙tbol), my dad’s was to chat with the sponsored children’s parents.

I took a whole new take on things. I just watched, listened to their rolling Spanish-speaking tongues, and smiled at their confused expressions when we tried communicating back.

The situation was surreal. So often I thought my life was broken, but when I saw these people with the bare minimum to live I found that my life was so much more blessed than I realized.

Venturing from place to place gave me a sense of being, of wonder, and of true unconditional love. Everywhere I glanced I felt smiles overwhelm me. I had never felt that feeling of a total stranger loving me.

They showed the true meaning of loving your neighbor as yourself. The gifts that they gave us would never amount to, or ever live up to, the gifts we received from them.

The days in Guatemala passed by like the wind, leaving me awestruck and in love. These were my kind of people. They gave everything they had and left nothing for themselves.

Guatemala changed me, not just because of its natural beauty in the midst of mudslides, but it changed how I view my life, let alone how I want to live it.

Accepting their way of life, seeing my adopted family, and opening my eyes to their love really gave me hope.

Through this turmoil I finally found hope in the midst of suffering.

Share this post:
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Reddit Email
Nov 30 2010

A family transformed through CFCA’s work in El Salvador

We have two new stories on our website, hopeforafamily.org. Even though they focus on two people – Santiago and his son, Cesar – they are all about one incredible family.

Santiago's family

Santiago and his family

Santiago, from El Salvador, credits CFCA sponsorship with giving his family a support network of local CFCA staff, sponsors for his children and other families in the CFCA program.

ìI think the best gift that I could have received from God is to have a group of people who support me,î he said.

His oldest son, Cesar, is planning to study accounting and English. He’s a CFCA scholar and has received educational assistance, clothing and school supplies.

ìWithout CFCA, my parents could not cover these needs and I would have to drop out of school and go out and work to help my parents bring up my siblings,î Cesar said. ìThis is a real impact on my family and on my life.î

In the future, Cesar hopes to start a family, own a home and buy a car.

Read Santiago’s story here.

Read Cesar’s story here.

Share this post:
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Reddit Email
Nov 8 2010

Walk2gether sparks gallery of T-shirts

So we all know that CFCA President and Co-founder Bob Hentzen is passing through 12 countries on an 8,000-mile walk called Walk2gether. Weíve had UnivisiÛn, Fox 4 KC and the Kansas City Star report on him.

What you may not have heard about is the fashion statement that CFCA is making in the process!

Many of the countries in which Bob is walking have made Walk2gether T-shirts for CFCA staff members, sponsored friends and their families to wear as badges of honor.

Enjoy the sample gallery slideshow that weíve created:

Local companies and some CFCA livelihood projects have benefited from the design, manufacturing and distribution of these T-shirts.

One report in particular touched us: Benjamin Nestor, a sponsored youth in El Salvador who is in a wheelchair, created the Salvadoran T-shirtís design.

Henry Flores, director of the CFCA Communication Center in El Salvador, told us that Benjamin taught himself how to use Photoshop, a graphic design program.

ìA group of friends gave Benjamin the computer and he started to play with it,î Henry wrote. ìHe is awesome!î

Note: One of the benefits CFCA provides sponsored members is clothing. Many of them especially enjoy wearing their T-shirts designed with the CFCA and Walk2gether logos!

Share this post:
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Reddit Email
Oct 28 2010

Before and after: How sponsorship transformed one childís life

By Shanxi Omoniyi, CFCA web editor and writer

Milton and Lila Krainbill

Milton and Lila Krainbill

Many of us at the CFCA office in Kansas City know Milton and Lila Krainbill, and those who donít will learn pretty quickly.

Theyíre longtime sponsors and volunteers in Holton, Kan., who serve a delicious lunch to all the Kansas City staff once a year. With the employee head count at just over 130, thatís no easy feat.

But even more amazing are the Krainbillsí pictures showing the progress of their sponsored child, Heidy, in Costa Rica.

Milton and Lila took a vacation to Costa Rica in 2003, and they asked to tour the San Jose project there.

From the moment they met Heidy and her family, the Krainbills knew they couldnít lose contact with this little girl. She was one of eight children in a family struggling to overcome poverty.

The familyís galvanized tin house had gaping holes in the siding that let in rainwater. The children slept on pallets instead of beds.

ìWhen we saw the situation, we just couldnít walk away without taking on another sponsorship,î Lila said.

Seven years later, Milton and Lila returned to find a transformed family.

Read more about Heidy’s changed life

Share this post:
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Reddit Email
Oct 11 2010

Sponsorship legacy passes from mother to daughter

We enjoy hearing from sponsors about their mission awareness trips, and this story especially moved us. Mari Wrightís mother started sponsoring Andrea in Honduras when Andrea was only 2 years old. She never visited Andrea, but wrote to her regularly. Mari decided to continue the sponsorship after her mother died in 2003. This year, Mari visited Andrea for the first time and discovered a precious letter that her mother had written back in 1999. Mari recounts her experiences in the following post.

This summer I was so fortunate to be able to go on a mission awareness trip to Honduras, my first time to visit any CFCA project. I went to meet Andrea, the child I have been sponsoring since 2003.

Andrea and Mari

Andrea, second from left, and Mari, second from right, celebrate at a CFCA birthday party for sponsored friends.

The way I became a sponsor is a story worth telling. In 1998 a devastating hurricane killed many people and did horrendous damage to the small country of Honduras.

My mother, a devout Roman Catholic and resident of Kansas, heard about CFCAís work to help the people there. She wanted to contribute and decided to sponsor a child.

Andrea was then 2 years old. Every year when a photograph came, Mom would show it to me, along with letters written by Andreaís mother.

When my mother died in 2003, I decided to continue the sponsorship.

Before long Andrea learned to write letters, herself. She often would ask me if I could ever come to meet her. Finally this past summer I was able to do so.

From the moment my plane landed in Honduras I felt my motherís blessings close around me. The CFCA project leader, who met me at the airport, exclaimed, ìYou are going to be able to see your child three times, the most of anyone on this trip!î

Our first meeting was at the whole-day celebration held for visiting sponsors, the children and parents ó held at a water park not far from the airport and our hotel.

We spent a wonderful, relaxed day playing and getting to know one another.

When our group went to Andreaís home a few days later, she showed me a letter she had received in 1999 from my mother in Momís own beautiful handwriting.

They had kept the letter and treasured it all the years.

I think all of us had tears in our eyes as I read aloud the sweet message.

Stacy, a representative from the CFCA office in Kansas City, was with us that afternoon and urged me to write this story.

The next day I was in a group of sponsors attending a typical CFCA birthday party for all the children whose birthdays were in that three-month period.

Since Andreaís brother was one of them, she was invited to come too. We sat together and talked in a more easygoing manner as our friendship grew.

Then when it was time for the children to go, there wasnít room on the bus for all of them, so Andrea and her brother were allowed to stay.

One of the CFCA staff drove them home later after finishing the cleanup. That meant I got to spend even more time with her. I was so lucky! I felt I really got to know her and her family.

Andrea and her mother

Andrea and her mother meet Mari.

All the activities planned for us during the trip made plain how much our small monthly contributions are valued by the recipient families.

The very hard-working staff of the CFCA project ó all residents of the area and citizens of Honduras ó are a true inspiration. They create the incredible effectiveness of the program.

Andreaís project leader, has known her family over the many years that he has worked with CFCA.

Even though he is responsible for hundreds of children and their families, he remembers the histories and details of each one. He treated her and her brother with such care. And he welcomed me warmly into their community.

I have been tremendously enriched by this experience. I truly feel that I have a goddaughter now in Honduras.

Thanks, Mom!

Share this post:
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Reddit Email