Jan 26 2009

Bob’s notes – Visit to India, part 2

Mission awareness trip
Jan. 6-18, 2009

After spending a most enjoyable week with the sponsors in South India, Cristina, Alvaro Aguilar (Guatemala) and I flew to Hyderabad. We were privileged to visit subprojects, families and mothers groups, together with staff members from CFCA-Kansas and CFCA-Bhagalpur.

Words from a sponsored mother
ìNormally every program ends with the vote of thanks Ö but today this word thanks comes right from the bottom of every motherís heart. Itís not only financial and material knowledge that is given Ö but we are taught how to earn our living, how to educate our children, how to build a good and happy family and how to be a good mother.îóAgnes, Rosevilla Mothers Group

Small mothers group (SMG) leaders conference
This has been a day of inspiration and celebration with about 900 mothers group leaders present and a very high level of energy, identity and ìbuy-inî with the CFCA program.

Inspiring to me were the 20 little girls from subproject BLP, former street children. Sister Margaret shared their stories: This one was abandoned in the railway station. This one was found in the city market. These precious children (ages 2 to10) had prepared a few songs and a birthday cake for Mr. Prakash and they literally became part of my song Esmeralda Ö really because they have lived and are living similar realities today.

Community based
The mothers can be seen walking from their home to the meeting place. The transparency of the program, together with the joy and confidence of the mothers, speak clearly that this program is healthy and sustainable. I believe it can be said that they are truly community-based when our own CFCA colleagues living and serving in their own community give the example of walking with poor without religious, caste or any other prejudice. Continue reading

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Jan 23 2009

Bob’s notes – Visit to India, part 1

Mission awareness trip
Jan. 6-18, 2009

Sponsors learn the reality of south India; mothers groups become CFCA model
The creativity and dedication of the CFCA community in India has become an ìexpansion-of-vision centerî for staff members from Bolivia, U.S.A, Honduras, Kenya and now Guatemala. Two of our colleagues from Guatemala (Jorge Armas, coordinator, and Alvaro Aguilar, regional director) were invited to participate in the experience of this mission awareness tripófollowed by a more in-depth study of the Hyderabad model of mothers groups. Jorge took ill the night before departure and was not able to travel.

Group orientation
We are happy to be here in Chennai (Madras). All the diocesan priests from the Archdiocese of Chennai together with their archbishop are on retreat at the same convent conference center where we are staying. Father Cyrus Gallagher, a CFCA preacher, was able to concelebrate Holy Mass with them this morning.

12-hour train ride
We made it to the train station in plenty of time for our 12-hour overnight trip to Palay and a good rock-me-to-sleep night on the train in triple-decker sleeping bunks. Athletic types generously scampered upward.

Visit to a familyís home
About 50 kilometers out of Palay, we visited subproject SPT. About 30 mothers and five elderly received us at the humble home of Petchi. For sponsors Gene and Jean, this was a very historical moment, after 11 years of sponsorship of Petchi. Gene said that this day has been one of the ìgreatest in his life.î

The mothers became teachers and the sponsors learners, as we enjoyed a beautiful and meaningful dialog for a couple of hours. One of the special gifts Jean had prepared for Petchi was an anthology of their relationship over these past 11 years. Iím sure it will be treasured.

The profound joy of belonging to CFCA was expressed by children and their mothers, who were clad in sharp-looking blue saris. Following dancing, dialogue and emotional sharing, sponsors were very quiet in the van as we made our way back to Palay in the night under a beautiful Pongal/Harvest Moon.

Continue reading

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Jan 12 2009

Kenyaís gradual return to peace

By Janet Tinsley, CFCA international project director for Africa

After the disputed presidential elections of December 2007 that were marred by allegations of corruption, the president-elect, Mwai Kibaki, and opposition candidate, Raila Odinga, formed the Grand Coalition Government in an attempt to quell the violence that erupted in January 2008. However, since its inception, the coalition has been tenuous at best, with many worrying that any disagreement between the parties could send Kenya into another violent tailspin.

During the year following the post-election violence, which resulted in more than 1,000 deaths and more than 350,000 internally displaced persons, people wishing to heal and move on have largely been forced to take reconciliation efforts into their own hands. In a demonstration of their perseverance, communities around the country have formed ad-hoc, cross-tribal support groups with the common goal of gradually bringing peace back to their community. Coming to terms with what happened last year is taking time, but gradually, people have returned to their communities and begun the arduous task of putting their lives and communities back together.

The government, however, has been relatively silent with regard to reconciliation and national healing following last yearís violence. It wasnít until November that legislation was passed to form a commission on election violence, and commissioners have yet to be appointed. As a result, very few of those who instigated the violence have been tried or prosecuted, and many Kenyans fear that the main perpetrators will go unpunished.

Post-election violence contributed to a significant slowdown in agricultural production and tourism during the first half of 2008, which had a major impact on Kenyaís already struggling economy. Kenya was also impacted by skyrocketing fuel and food costs as well as the global economic slowdown. Exceedingly high food prices, food shortages, and several thousands of internally displaced persons in the aftermath of the elections made 2008 a very difficult year for Kenyans.

Nevertheless, Kenyans are resilient and optimistic. The economy is already showing signs of starting to bounce back, and peace is returning for most of the population. While most were ready to put 2008 behind them, it seems that people are hopeful that 2009 will be a better year.

Read about how CFCA mothers groups are helping heal divisions in Kenya.

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