Now is a great time to help youth reflect on the need to take proper leave of those who have enriched their lives as they move on to the next chapter in their lives.
Larry Livingston, CFCA director of church relations, has created a simple exercise to help young people recognize and more deeply appreciate the important relationships in their lives.
This exercise can be used to complement a classroom lesson or parish youth gathering, or be part of an end-of-the-year group retreat.
Marta, now 25, was a former CFCA scholar. She depended heavily on her mother’s income to get her through college, but her mother suffered an accident that forced her to stop working. Read on to find out how it all ended!
How did you get involved with CFCA?
I met CFCA about eight years ago when I became part of its scholarship program in Santa Ana, El Salvador.
I was a high school freshman and my mother could not fully afford my education.
She used to work selling fried finger food in the streets. My younger brother was in school, too, and unfortunately, we never met our father.
How did CFCA support you?
As part of my responsibilities in CFCA, I did monthly community service. I offered my service at the CFCA headquarters in Santa Ana, El Salvador.
I started meeting people who treated me professionally and with respect. Many things changed inside me, spiritually and intellectually. I felt motivated to dream about my future.
At the same time it helped me cover part of my educational expenses such as transportation, tuition, etc., and my mother would help me with anything else I needed.
You graduated from high school. Did you go to university? Read her answer
Despite tremendous obstacles, 125 youth sponsored through CFCA and some scholarship students graduated from high school in December 2010.
My name is Manuel Pineda. I am the coordinator in the CFCA project in Santa Barbara, Honduras.
As coordinator, I have witnessed the efforts made by students in my country to reach their educational goals, especially those who live in rural areas.
Students are constantly tempted to drop out of school because of burdens such as economic limitations, lack of support and absence of parents, lack of public transportation to school, insufficient and inadequate nutrition, etc.
In December 2010, our CFCA project in Santa Barbara celebrated the graduation of 125 sponsored members and some scholarship students from high school in areas like business administration, social service, Spanish teaching, tourism and automotive mechanics. Some graduated as technicians in refrigeration, computers and nursing.
Many of these students had to work to cover part of their educational expenses. Others had to walk more than 6 miles to get to school, but with the support of CFCA, they have had the chance to reach their professional dreams.
“I thank CFCA for supporting me since fourth grade up to finishing my high school. When my mother passed away, I did receive economic and spiritual support,” said Nancy, a sponsored girl who graduated from high school after studying business administration.
Parents of Mirta, a sponsored girl and now a computer technician, told us, “We had five children and only Mirta has had the chance to give us the joy of seeing her graduate because we never pictured having this in our life.”
I have been able to appreciate the joy of these parents, a couple in their 70s, to see the success of their daughter, which they consider a family achievement.
The graduated students have demonstrated they are capable, with good behavior and great discipline, once given an opportunity. CFCA helps them to overcome the obstacles that they face daily.
When I reflect on these achievements, I see how CFCA is an active source of hope, helping the sponsored members and their families to be strong and to transform their own realities.
By Sheila Myers, communications writer
Sitting on the bleachers of the football stadium among hundreds of anxious family members, I watched as one-by-one, 500 high school graduates in blue caps and billowing gowns paraded down the field. It wasnít the cool breeze giving me goose bumps on that jubilant May evening, but the thrill of watching my oldest daughter receive her diploma.
As a parent, the occasion of my daughterís graduation is one of indescribable pride and joy. The event is a major milestone in her life, the beginning of another chapter, and marks the culmination of years of hard work.
From the day Bernadette was born, there was never any doubt that she would attend high school. This expectationóthat our children will graduate from high schoolóis commonly shared by all the parents of my daughterís friends. Itís probably shared by most American parents: 73 percent of American students graduate from high school.
So I wonder how the parents of CFCA students feel when their children graduate from high school. I know that even with sponsorship support, parents make painful choices so their children can stay in school. It can cost a typical household a monthís income for bus fare alone, not to mention supplies and books.
I read about Daniel, a CFCA sponsored student in El Salvador who graduated last December. Daniel was raised by his father, a single parent who struggled to keep finding work so that Daniel and his two siblings could stay in school. At one point, Daniel had to leave school to help his father earn money, but then his father made him return. Daniel walked four miles to high school every day, even in the rainy season.
Like me and my husband, Danielís father understands that education is important for our childrenís future. We are both willing to make sacrifices so they can achieve their dreams, although I recognize the sacrifices Danielís father has made are far greater than ours. His effort is no less than heroic.
I hope when Danielís father watched Daniel receive his diploma, that he took time to savor the moment, to forget about lifeís daily pressures and to feel proud that he played a part in Danielís success.
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. Continue reading