Tomorrow, June 21, marks the official first day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. Summer is a time for many people to spend outdoors and soak up the sun. To celebrate the season, here’s a photo gallery of sponsored children around the world showing you what they love to do in warmer weather.
Sponsored youth from the Dumagat tribe in the Philippines splash in cool waters flowing from the Sierra Madre Mountains. Summer has started in the Philippines, with temperatures topping 90 degrees Fahrenheit in some areas. That sounds pretty nice to those of us in the U.S. who just recently emerged from winter’s deep freeze!
How do families living in poverty stay cool during summer?
As the weather temperatures keep climbing in Kansas City, we’re taking note of the creative and ingenious ways that sponsored children and their families beat the heat!
1) Using hammocks (El Salvador)
In Sonsonate, one of the hottest places in El Salvador, the average temperature is 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius).
During the summer season, sponsored friends like to take naps during the day and sleep in hammocks at night.
They feel less heat in their hammocks than in their beds. They also say it’s more comfortable sleeping in a hammock in the back yard with the fresh air.
Hammocks come in many sizes, materials and colors.
In the case of Nancy, who was sponsored as a child through CFCA, her hammock is made of nylon string and was woven by a relative.
Whenever the weather gets hot, or when Nancy is tired after coming home from school (which is 13 blocks from her house), she takes a nap for a few minutes in her hammock. Read more
As Labor Day approaches, it signals the unofficial end of summer.
Children spend their final days in the neighborhood pool, and moments spent at summer camp become treasured memories as children refocus their energy on schoolwork.
In India, the end of summer vacation is also a time to refocus on school and say goodbye to the friends and activities they shared during break.
Just like in the U.S., CFCA sponsored children in Hyderabad, India, spend part of their summer break attending summer camp. But summer camps in Hyderabad take place in May.
This video shows how summer camps in Hyderabad provide a healthy forum for sponsored children to develop creative talents, interact with other children in the program, and just relax and have fun.
By Kelly Demo, CFCA preacher
Soccer has grown from an obscure game played by a handful of kids to being the most popular, organized sport for children in the U.S. With more than 3 million youth registered each year in formal leagues, soccer has firmly established itself as part of the American childhood.
Without knowing it, kids who play soccer here in the U.S. are aligning themselves with the millions, perhaps billions, of children worldwide who play soccer (more commonly known as ìfootballî). However, these kids in developing countries donít always experience soccer with minivans, uniforms, coaches and juice boxes waiting for them when they are done. These are the kids who find any round object and a group of friends and play wherever they can find an open space. They run barefoot, kicking the ball through a goal they have fashioned out of scrap metal or their imaginations.
Henry Flores, director of the CFCA Communications Center in El Salvador, says that CFCA staff will often organize soccer games with the scholarship students because they find this to be a great way for staff to connect with the youth.
ìWith these games we are telling the students, ëWe want to spend time with you!í î Henry also observes that soccer is only fun when you play with others. It is a community sport. It unifies responsibility, ability and discipline.
“Plus, you donít need lots of equipment, just a 25-cent ball and a small space in your community. You often see children in the different communities who spend hours playing street soccer. When a vehicle is passing trough you hear, ëGAME OFF / GAME ON!í to let the children know.”
Often, when there have been teen mission awareness trip groups, the staff will organize soccer games because it is a simple way to break the ice, create community and strengthen bonds of friendship. “And,” says Henry, “You need no translator for it.”
In your next letter, have your soccer kid ask their sponsored friend about “football” in their country. Do they enjoy playing? Does their country have a national soccer team? Talk with them about the idea that they are in solidarity with their friend simply by playing soccer. What similarities does your child see in the way their friend plays football, and how soccer is experienced here in the States? What are the differences?
Information provided by Rafael Villalobos, San Jose, Costa Rica, project coordinator
The global recession has hurt businesses catering to tourists who want to see the world. Itís also hurt an indigenous community that earns a livelihood from the sale of handicrafts to tourists in Costa Rica.
The Maleku are an indigenous tribe living in Guatuso, a beautiful tourist destination 150 miles from the city of San JosÈ, Costa Rica. Tourists come from all over the world to visit the light blue Frio River, said by locals to have its color because when God painted the sky blue He washed His brushes in this river.
The Maleku try to live peacefully and in harmony with nature. Having lost territory to cattle farmers, the Maleku are working hard to recover the forests and protect local flora. They use the tourism industry to give tours of the forest and showcase the many benefits it provides, such as medicinal plants, colored inks from plants and cacao beans for chocolate.
Most Maleku are artisans, working with local materials from the forest to create handicrafts. Many work as a family, with some members searching for materials, some working in the first steps of preparation, some painting the colorful images and others selling them to tourists. The Maleku make handicrafts by old traditions that celebrate their culture, items like masks, painted gourds, rain sticks and drums.
MarÌa Lillian, a member of the Maleku community, is the mother of Marta, 18, a CFCA scholarship student in ninth grade, Joselyn, an 8-year-old sponsored child, and three other children. The family works making handicrafts to sell to tourists. A single mask can take up to 15 days to make and a drum can be completed in about six days. Often a family member must travel up to 25 miles in order to obtain the materials they need.
Unfortunately, tourism has been affected by the global economic crisis. Guatuso has seen an 80 percent reduction in tourists visiting the area. This reduction also means a decrease in sales profits from handicrafts for families like MarÌaís. Previously making $400 a month on handicrafts, they are now selling only $30 a month.
MarÌa is currently making bread to sell because she had no other income besides the handicrafts. It is a difficult situation for the family, who love what they do and value their culture and tradition, but can no longer make enough money to cover their basic needs.
Last year, in order to bring their business closer to the tourists, a community of Maleku worked for months to build a community hall near the road where access of tourists would be easier. Due to the economic crisis, they have only welcomed one group of tourists this year, while last year they received 4 groups each month.
Paul Pearce, director of CFCA international programs, said this story illustrates how sponsorship is vital to help families weather economic ups and downs. ìItís an example of the precarious nature of a familyís narrow budget,î he explains. “Sponsorship can help absorb some of the blow of an economic impact like this.”
By Rev. Kelly Demo, CFCA preacher
As I write this, I am watching my own children play in a well-manicured, well-equipped park in our neighborhood. I cannot help but think of the children around the world whom I have seen playing in sewers, empty lots, fields with crops and barren yards with scraggly dogs nipping at their heels. But somehow, they seemed just as happy as my children do today.
The joke at Christmastime is always that you spend a fortune on toys for children but what they enjoy most is playing with the boxes, ribbons and packing peanuts that the toys came in. This is universal for children. I have watched children in Sierra Leone, Haiti, Venezuela and, yes, even my own children pull items out of the trash to equip their imaginary world. I remember a beautiful bicycle that a boy in Africa made for me. He found scraps of wire and fashioned this incredible toy. An old sheet can hold powerful fairy magic. A large empty box houses a universe of possibilities.
This call to creative play is yet another gift that children living in poverty give to our children. I think we often do our children a disservice by creating imaginary worlds for them in the form of video games and TV shows. What grown-ups create will never be as good as what kids can think of. Unfortunately, (and this is a personal confession) when life gets harried, it sometimes feels easier to let the kids turn on the TV than to encourage creative play.
Summertime is a perfect time to send the kids outside and get them to dig in the dirt, climb a tree or watch clouds.
As a challenge to your children or grandchildren, let them go through your recycling bin or dig in your attic, garage or closet to see what treasures can be unearthed. To what worlds can they be transported? What magical creatures lurk in your laundry room? What important business must be dealt with in the secrecy of a clubhouse? They will probably not know it, but they will be in solidarity with the billions of children around the world who do not have toys, TVs and video games. All children need is the time and space to be a child.
As a challenge to you, allow yourself to enter that world as well. Allow yourself the freedom to be child-like and think of your own sponsored child. But beware Ö as you magically turn into a knight in shining tin foil or first mate on a raft floating down the Mississippi, you might find that you get lost while other, more “important” matters disappear in a fog of your own childhood memories.