By Father Mark Lane, CFCA preacher
I wonder whether I will ever forget Juana’s tears.
In October I found myself in a corn field on the outskirts of Solol·, in Guatemala’s central highlands, as a CFCA representative handed over the keys to a new home for Juana and her family.
Juana cries tears of joy upon moving into her new house.
Juana was crying because she was moving 15 feet from her old home ñ a 6-by-6-foot stick and adobe hut with a tin roof and dirt floor ñ to a new 10-by-20-foot concrete, three-room hacienda (Spanish for the main dwelling on an estate or other property) with steel windows and doors, a covered porch and a pristine concrete floor.
Having had to crouch to enter her old house without windows, where every surface seemingly hid under a thick layer of creosote from the open fire, I got a sense of the emotional weight of the gift of her new home: a home as open and full of light as her heart now appeared.
“I keep waking up and touching the walls,” she said. “I can’t believe I am so blessed to call this my home.
“Es un milagro,” she kept repeating. “It is a miracle.”
Now Juana has enough room for her father and two children to sleep in their own beds with a mattress and blankets, instead of huddled together in a hollow in her former hut’s dirt floor.
Despite its poverty, Guatemala is a spectacularly beautiful place. No wonder the Mayans are proud to call it home. High in the mountain range that crosses from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean are 30 or so volcanoes, some active. In the center of that range is Lake Atitlan, which some describe as the most beautiful lake in the world.
By Henry Flores, director of the communications center in El Salvador
In June, we celebrate Fatherís Day in many countries in Latin America, and it’s in these countries where millions of children don’t have access to proper education, nutrition, health and unfortunately, many of them donít even have a father.
More often than not, the typical Latin American family has only one parent at home ñ the mother. This stark reality is based on many factors, including the oppressive poverty and cultural standards.
The precarious financial situation of many families forces fathers to migrate from the rural areas into the cities or other countries. Others work away from home and return only a couple days per month, and still others simply become part of the statistics of those who donít care for their children.
In spite of this reality, there are fathers who stay to face the challenges and burdens of their life and families. They stay home with their wife and children to be together, to be a family, instilling in them values, creating awareness and helping to build a strong society by offering united families.
At CFCA, we are blessed to witness the courage of many of these men who strive every single day to be good examples of a hard-working spirit, a family leader and loving paternal figure, not only for their own children, but for other children in their communities.
I recently met Hector and his wife, Maria Esperanza. They are raising five children. Hector works in agriculture, and with the help of small loans, he works 2.5 acres of land, planting corn and beans, producing enough to sell part of it to pay his debts and keeping a little of his production for the family consumption. Hector travels by horse for almost two hours to the land he rents to grow his crops. He usually works long days, under very high temperatures and extreme humidity, starting early in the morning and returning home late at night.
Hector has a fierce love for his wife and children. He protects them and ensures that they have what they need. And, education is his first priority. ìSometimes my children help me in my plantation, but school is first, so I work alone most of the time.î
The financial situation of the family is difficult, but the dreams of this father for his children are the motivation he needs to work hard. ìThings can be difficult, I work hard. It is my hope that my children will be educated and have a better life, and I just need to work harder,î Hector said.
We praise our Lord for the gift of fatherhood, for the opportunity to be loved by a father and I thank You, my Lord, for the blessings of being a father.
The third Sunday of June marks Fatherís Day in many countries worldwide, including the United States. Today, June 17, those in El Salvador and Guatemala celebrate their fathers. We, at CFCA, would like to honor all fathers, including Henry Flores and Hector, for the courage and strength they provide to their families.
Daniel, 18, was first featured in the opening edition of The Scholar. Since that edition, Daniel was sponsored, graduated high school and started his journalism studies at a university. Here, his father reflects on raising his children and seeing Daniel graduate.
As told by Daniel’s father to Henry Flores, director of CFCA’s communication center in El Salvador.
My name is Daniel Ernesto, I am 46 years old and I was born in Santa Ana, El Salvador.
I have two brothers, however, we did not grow up together.
When I was little, my father decided to take me to his sisterís house to live with her because neither of my parents could take care of me. My father died when I was 2 years old, so I did not get to meet him.
My aunt did not have any children, so she gave me everything I needed. Now that I am an adult, I realize that family is more important than having everything you need. The family and the mother offer a natural trust.
My aunt was a teacher. She died when I was 19 years old. However, I was blessed to finish high school and had some extra education in electricity.
When my aunt died, and I got married, I started to work in anything that would give me some income. I did carpentry, bricklaying, etc. When you want to accomplish things, you need to put forth all your efforts. Good things are hard to get.
One of the most difficult moments in my life was when my wife left me and our three children. I stayed with the three of them. From one day to the next, I had to wash their clothes and cook for them. I remember I used to get up very early in the morning to do all this.
It was very difficult for me to adapt to my new situation as a single father, but I trusted God so much. He has never left me alone.
Raising my children was hard, but I had solid moral values. I told myself, “I have gone through this, I grew up without a father or a family, I donít want my children to live what I lived.” My mother even told me to let her raise the children, but I told her that I was going to be their mother and father.