Tag: Walk with the Poor

Jan 4 2011

A letter to the Walk2gether camper

Here is a tongue-in-cheek post from Rafael Villalobos, CFCA project coordinator in San Jose, Costa Rica. Rafa joined CFCA President and Co-founder Bob Hentzen on Walk2gether and made friends with the iconic Walk2gether camper, a vehicle that has accompanied Bob since the walk began. The camper is with Bob right now in Peru.

Hello, dear friend camper:

I remember the first time I saw your picture. You looked good. Don Roberto (Bob) told me, ìItís old, like me, but it still runs.î

Walk2gether camper

CFCA Walk2gether camper.

They told us your name: Walk2gether Camper.

We waited for you happily. I fondly remember March 1, when you arrived in Costa Rica together with the walkers. Everyone watched you with respect.

You came loaded with luggage, lots of water, tools, spare tire, food, kitchen supplies, clothes for the walkers, medicine, electric generator, etc.

You looked tired and beaten, but in your lights, I noticed an immense joy.

With your flashers, you animated the children and sang with us, ìWhile walking, borders disappear. We become of one land, one cry for justice, and we blend together like the land blends when we make footprints while we walk. We join dignity and hope in one flag Ö Latin America.î

You drove thousands of miles on your tires. The logos and banners you wore indicated you were not simply a camper. ì12,500 kilometers bringing hope.î

You were like Noahís Ark, crossing oceans to bring hope and blessings to all the villages.

I remember one rainy afternoon when you shared what it means to be part of CFCA: Read more about the Walk2gether camper

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Dec 29 2010

We’ve reached the 1-year anniversary of Walk2gether

Walk2gether officially turns 1 year old today!

The trip by our CFCA President and Co-founder Bob Hentzen through 12 countries is about love ñ to show families living in poverty that they are not alone.

It’s also to raise awareness about the dire living conditions faced by these families, who often earn less than $2 per day.

Walk2gether in the Peruvian desert

A picture of the Walk2gether team as it passed through the desert in Peru.

Bob wants to highlight the tremendous potential of the families, who struggle heroically to provide for their children.

Bobís day begins around 2:30 a.m., when he wakes up in an old Toyota camper. Like many of us, he enjoys a hardy breakfast and kisses his spouse before hitting the road.

His wife, Cristina, travels with him and often walks with him to encourage him and others who join the walk.

Bob covers an average of 20 to 25 miles daily through vast terrains ó from beautiful farmland and mountains to treacherous highways and deserts.

Yet Bob still finds the time and energy to meet some of the 182,000 families CFCA serves in the countries he walks through.

ìIím grateful to people living in poverty for all that they have taught me about life and unconditional love, even under the toughest of circumstances,î Bob said. ìI enjoy the time we get to spend together because they give me the energy to keep going.î

Walk2gether is now in Peru. The team expects to enter Bolivia on Jan. 16, 2011.

Read CFCA’s news report on celebrating the 1-year anniversary.

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Dec 27 2010

Walk2gether: Visiting the ‘Saints of Lima’

Catherine QuirogaCatherine Quiroga, CFCA director of information services, sent us this reflection from Peru. She has safely returned to the U.S. after joining Walk2gether, which continues in Peru.

From ìHeroes/Saints of the Walkî to ìSaints of LimaîÖ. The hijas de la misericordia (Sisters of Mercy) who run the residence home for girls are my No. 1 candidates.

The love and loving discipline they lavish on these girls are evident in how wholesome, happy and loving the girls are. The girls learn not just school subjects but life lessons ñ how to cook, clean and take care of each other.

The mother superior was here from Chile. She frequently served us and quietly cleared the table. Her attitude of gentle service and compassion is shown in each of the sisters.

One stood out among the others (although she probably wouldnít want to) ñ Hermana (or rather Madre) Cristina. As Bob (CFCA President Bob Hentzen) said, her spirit permeates this place ñ her joyful spirit and openness. Ö I believe those closest to God are full of joy. Over the last few days we have walked with God through these precious sisters.

Weíre sad to leave but onward we go ñ step by step.

Day one
Walked into Lima today Ö More than 80 people were ready to walk at 3:30 a.m..

Walk2gether in Peru

The Walk2gether team continues through Peru.

Ö. It was a challenge keeping this group secure along the road, but they started dropping out at the end of the first 5K, catching buses to return home. At 15K most were done ñ leaving us with about 12 girls from the residence home and the core group as we neared the center of Lima.

I was tracking our speed on my Garmin GPS ñ doing 1 km (about 0.6 mile) in less than 13 minutes. Ö

By now, my feet were ready to stop. I am so glad Bob had cut back to 35 km/day (more than 21 miles per day).

After an hour passed, I thought maybe Israel (our support vehicle driver) missed seeing the marker. We kept moving. Finally we came to a different style of marking ñ it said CFCA.

Turns out the police saw where the original marker was and decided it was too dangerous for us to stop there so they removed it. Ö Bob estimates we probably did more than 40 km (about 25 miles) with all the side roads, highway crossings and the additional km ñ all before lunch.

Day two

Girls from the residence home arrived mid-morning along with Hermana Cristina and a newly ordained priest friend of hers. We eventually left Lima.

At 30K, we stopped at a nice highway rest stop ñ gasoline station/eating places fairly similar to those in the U.S. Ö

After lunch and the final 5K, we bid the girls farewell ñ from here on, it will probably just be the core group.

A child from Peru

A child dressed in Peruvian clothing

Days three and four

We walked past the beaches south of Lima. Almost everyone took the opportunity to sit and watch the ocean.

As we get farther south of Lima you see the wealthier side of Peru ñ motocross bike paths on the hillsides, more personal cars on the road.

The farther we go the more money is evident Ö signs for beach condos, a golf course, etcÖ This is a very picturesque country.

Day five

Yesterday was filled with activities by the CFCA communities. Many displayed their livelihood projects.

Then they had a program for us ñ scheduled to last three hours but took about five. Even the seminarians prepared songs to share.

Ö.After many dances, speeches and songs, they had the grand finale. A ìmotoî had driven onto the back half of the field with lots of bamboo-type stuff. They proceeded to build a structure ñ dedicated to CFCA. Once everything was over they told the parents to keep their children under control and proceeded to start up fireworks that had been wired into the structure Ö Amazing and beautiful Ö

Take care,

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Dec 7 2010

Walk2gether: Peruvian children cheer on Bob

Catherine QuirogaCatherine Quiroga, CFCA director of information services, sent us this reflection from Peru. She has safely returned to the U.S. after joining Walk2gether, which continues in Peru.

We walked into Lima to a residence home for girls (Nuestra SeÒora de Misericordia, or “Our Lady of Mercy”).

When I arrived on Thursday morning, we came here to ride out with them (or them with us) to meet Bob. We stuffed 20 people into a van probably intended for 15 ñ girls, a couple of moms, a couple of Catholic sisters, Luis (from Ocotepeque, Honduras) and myself. What a welcome to Peru!

They fashioned extra seats in the van by putting in little wooden school chairs. This was in addition to girls sitting on one anotherís laps. They were all so friendly, good-hearted and joyful.

Walk2gether in Peru

A Peruvian group joins Walk2gether out in the desert.

Bob told me the residence home had contests ñ the group that could come up with the best cheers for Bob would get to join him for a day.

When we found Bobís entourage (thankfully, close to a rest time), they cheered him on appropriately. Lots of hugs, hellos, etc. Ö After a brief rest, we got them vested up (with safety vests) and we were off.

When we stopped for lunch at 30 km (about 18.6 miles), one mom could barely move. Her feet seemed to be made out of wooden blocks. Ö. But she wouldnít give up.

She finished out the entire 35 km (about 21.7 miles) ñ so sweet, so determined to be a part of this movement and show her gratitude to Bob. She joined us again today. Both she and her feet fully recovered.

Back to today …

We drove to the residence home after yesterdayís walk and stayed the night here. And although many of the girls said they were going to walk with us today, none showed up at 3 a.m. when we were leaving.

At some point in the morning, a somewhat small bus stopped on the other side of the highway and our first group joined us (about 15-20 in this group).

A little bit later up the road, I saw something ñ a huge sign … more kids. Introductions, songs, cheers, more vests handed out, more water and onward … a little further down the road, the familiar blue van ñ kids from the residence home. What a joy to see them again!

Walk2gether in Peru

Girls from the residence home meet Walk2gether.

As we neared Lima, another group ñ more girls from the residence home walking to meet us! What a delight!

We now had anywhere from 70-100 people ñ moms, kids and vehicles. … Thankfully we also had a police escort.

As we prepared for a water/rest stop, they moved us further along to a safer place ñ there was now time for rest and more water.

I do hope I can get the pictures uploaded of the welcome we received at the residence home in Lima. Both sides of the entrance lined with kids, teachers, other CFCA subproject coordinators along with a band. What fanfare.

They treated us to a nice program ñ more band music, introductions, speeches, etc. before they finally released us!

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Nov 22 2010

CFCA board member travels to India

Carolyn Zimmerman, a CFCA board member, recently went on a mission awareness trip to India. CFCA President and Co-founder Bob Hentzen took time out from Walk2gether in Peru to attend the Mothers Annual Conference in Hyderabad. While there, the Hyderabad project held a Walk2gether solidarity walk.

1) How did you hear of CFCA, and how did you become a board member?
I read a newspaper story about CFCA and knew that a co-worker and friend had recently become a sponsor. I decided with my husband, Jon, to sponsor a young girl in Guatemala, a country we had visited about 20 years ago.

Coincidentally, a few months later, Sister Therese Wetta, a former CFCA board member and a classmate from Saint Mary College in Leavenworth, asked if she could nominate me for the CFCA board. I agreed, and after making my written application, I was selected.

2) What was the Walk2gether solidarity walk like?

Carolyn Zimmerman, CFCA board member

Carolyn Zimmerman

The solidarity walk happened in Hyderabad and our traveling team was expecting to participate. However, there were some security concerns at the time and it was decided that instead we would meet up with Bob and the Walk2gether solidarity walkers at the Mothers Annual Conference, which began late morning.

3) How would you describe the mothers groups and the Indian news media’s coverage of the conference?

These groups are very interesting and inspiring to me. I believe they are an important development in CFCAís hopes for the future of the sponsored children. The women are achieving a new dignity and confidence as they learn practical skills and ways to navigate their world to benefit their children. There is a sense of community and common purpose.

At the annual conference, there was quite a bit of media attention, especially because of Bobís presence and the participation of the stateís Home Minister, who is evidently supportive of CFCA in Hyderabad. She recognizes the value of the organization and the progressive nature of the work.

4) Had you ever been to India before? If not, what were you expecting and how did the experience measure up to your expectations?

This was my first trip to India. My knowledge of the country was ñ and still is ñ limited. My sources were a childhood book, The Secret Garden, whose heroine Mary returned to England after her parents died of cholera in India, and the movie Gandhi along with some of that great manís writings. I had also been reading a recent novel, Shantaram.

Stories of overpopulation and abject poverty have long dominated Western media; those stories and the current situation with Pakistan led me to be a little anxious about the trip.

The experience confirmed some old impressions of India ó teeming cities, in-your-face poverty, abysmal slums, and child beggars swarming among the cars at traffic stops ó but also revealed many beauties.

I appreciated the co-existence of many religious traditions. In Calcutta we were awakened before 5 a.m. by an Islamic call to prayer from a nearby mosque; then we heard the sweet singing of our Catholic sister hosts in the upstairs convent chapel. Passersby on the streets wore distinctive dress, identifying them as Muslim or Hindu.

Color was everywhere, especially in the womenís saris and other traditional dresses worn daily. On a humorous note, I was often asked by families if I would be in a picture with their children; I must have been the whitest person theyíd ever seen.

Read more

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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!

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Oct 21 2010

From beneficiaries to partners: How CFCA views sponsored friends

Dan Pearson, operations/program development director for CFCA, explains how CFCA programs are moving toward greater autonomy and partnership with those being sponsored. Rather than seeing them as “beneficiaries,” we see them as “partners.”

Nonprofit organizations often divide their stakeholders neatly into two categories: donors and beneficiaries. But CFCA has always viewed things a little differently.

Dan Pearson

Dan Pearson

CFCA has always seen sponsors as more than simply donors. Sponsors are first and foremost human beings with a desire to connect with other human beings.

Part of CFCA’s mission is to give sponsors a way to grow in love through a personal connection to a child or elderly person in another part of the world. In that sense, sponsors are also beneficiaries of sponsorship because we can receive emotional and spiritual benefits as we provide encouragement and material support to a friend in another country.

Similarly, CFCA has never seen sponsored children and their families as simply beneficiaries. The word “beneficiary” implies someone who passively receives assistance from another person. But sponsored members and their families are not passive. In fact, they are some of the most active people I have met.

Sponsored children often get up early and walk long distances just to receive an education. Their parents work long days (often in jobs that are physically demanding) to provide for their childrenís basic needs. Yes, these families benefit from the program. But they are much more than beneficiaries.

Sai and his family

Sponsored child Sai, second from right, and his family in Hyderabad, India.

Part of the message in CFCA’s Hope for a Family program is that the families of sponsored children are our partners.

The mother of a child partners with a sponsor to achieve a childís goals for the future. She is a trustworthy partner because:

a) she has demonstrated her absolute commitment to her child’s future,

b) she understands her child’s unique gifts and the particular challenges her child faces, and

c) she is extremely skilled at overcoming challenges.

The proof of a motherís trustworthiness as a partner in the development of her child is in her tireless dedication. She spends nearly every waking hour dedicated to the cause of her children. Then she goes to bed, wakes up early, and starts over again.

The label “beneficiary” doesnít do justice to that kind of active dedication to a cause.

When one sponsor and one family join forces to change one child’s life, all other labels dissolve. They are simply human beings working together to make one small piece of the world a better place.

We welcome your feedback! In the comments below, please tell us how you view the “beneficiaries” vs. “partners” distinction. If you’re a sponsor, have you always viewed sponsorship as a way to partner with others? Why or why not?

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