Mission awareness trip
Oct. 18 ñ 25, 2008
Together with Guatemala and Honduras, Chile is one of our pioneer projects. CFCA has been involved in Chile since 1982. The project center, located in Valparaiso, serves 4,500 children and 641 aging through six surrounding subprojects. The countryís name seems to have come from the Aymara word Chilli, which means ìwhere the earth ends.î†
A program rich in benefits
For sponsored children and their families, sponsorship benefits include education, health, help with housing, a loan program and a variety of livelihood training courses such as sewing, knitting and hairdressing.
Children who have trouble in the regular school system receive special attention, tutoring and care. The CFCA sponsorship program offers after-school care and learning opportunities.
Mothers who complete the beauty shop course are able to set up their own salon at home. Mothers who complete the sewing courses can apply for a no-interest loan to purchase a sewing machine and begin their own business. The CFCA center also offers domestic violence counseling and support.
The 641 sponsored elderly in Project Valparaiso can participate in literacy training, Tai-chi, creative theatre, folk dancing, guitar classes, choir and a variety of livelihood projects. They also receive services which improve their quality of life, such as podiatry care, hairdressing and dental prosthesis. CFCA also provides the elderly with breakfast, lunch and a snack in the afternoon before they head home. Many of the sponsors on the mission awareness trip purchased things made by the mothers and the elderly.††
Home visits showcase vibrant spirits
On day two of the trip, 11 of us made the swing through rural communities served by the project.
We were able to accompany Father Jose Maria, member of the Spanish delegation on this trip, to visit Elena, one of the sponsored elderly. Elena smiled as she spoke of her 19 grandchildren. She is enjoying her government-subsidized two-bedroom home.
We also visited the rural home and family of Manuel, 14, sponsored by John. The mother had taken the youngest boy, Maximiliano, to town because he had come down with a fever. I like a lot of things about this familyótheir good vegetable garden, a small pond for raising fish, swept dirt floor and an outdoor shower and latrine.
Our final visit of the day was to a beautiful young family in the small town of Catapilco. Charles and Pat have sponsored two of the four girls for the better part of 10 years. Appropriate gifts made it seem a lot like Christmas morning. We were invited to share a wonderful meal with the entire family.
A day for the elderly
This is the day to enjoy, appreciate and encourage our sponsored elderly. After visiting the shrine of ìEl NiÒo Dios,î a sanctuary adorned with many plaques of favors received, some 300 sponsored aging members, plus the sponsors and staff, gathered at a very pleasant conference center in Limache. The elderly were all color-coded according to their assigned bus. After a nice lunch, we spread out on a large grassy area to watch performances representing some of the activities available to sponsored elderly. Three sponsored aging, each one physically challenged in some way, offered a spontaneous performance about life during the 60ís and 70ís.
Workshops with mothers and children
Wednesday was our day to devote to the 90 sponsored families in Playa Anchaóconsidered a ìhigh-risk area,î especially with heavy drug dealing. We visited a day care, school and community health center there, enjoyed a typical lunch, and then participated in a beachside workshop with the mothers. The theme was searching for the hidden treasure of non-violence.
Friday morning was devoted to visiting two historical places in Santiago: the Presidential Palace known as ìLa Moneda,î and the colonial church and museum of San Francisco. In the afternoon, we were invited to visit with Valparaiso mothers and children in several workshopsósewing, knitting and hairdressing for the mothers, games and learning for the children. Lorena, assistant teacher for the children, is now a university student in early childhood education. She herself was sponsored for 17 years. Lorena expresses profound gratitude to her sponsors and to CFCA.
Hope amidst the challenges
I live in gratitude for each member of our CFCA family. I ask your prayers for the families of our 4,500 children and 641 aging in Chile. Even in very challenging situations, CFCA can and does inject a great deal of hope.
For Cristina and me, it will be good to be home in Guatemala for a couple of days. On Nov.3, we go up through Kansas City on our way to India, followed by three days of staff formation in the Philippines.†