By Shanxi Omoniyi, CFCA web editor and writer
This Sunday, Nov. 20, CFCA turns 30 years old!
There’s something powerful about reaching the third decade of one’s life. You might say we’re in our early adulthood.
We’re more seasoned than we were 15 or even 10 years ago.
We have some life experience regarding what works and what doesn’t, but we’re still young enough to have a sense of adventure about our future.
As we look back to gain a better sense of what lies ahead, some things have definitely changed.
Our “Hope for a Family” model of sponsorship, introduced during the last several years, has placed more emphasis and responsibility on the families in our sponsorship program.
They’re our partners, not merely passive beneficiaries. (See Dan Pearson’s blog post, “From beneficiaries to partners,” for more context.)
Mothers groups are a key component of this model.
Here mothers of sponsored children form active communities to decide how to best use sponsorship benefits and build a path out of poverty.
“I see the growth of CFCA as a very harmonic crescendo of people discovering one another, and then deciding to walk together and work together ó within an exciting, loving plan of the Almighty,” CFCA President and Co-founder Bob Hentzen said. “Far from kicking back and putting our feet up, we love the sense of just beginning.”
More important than what has changed, though, is what has stayed constant.
Our role as protectors of the bond between sponsors and sponsored friends will never change.
We’re responsible for helping people on both ends of this friendship recognize their dreams ñ whether it’s overcoming the challenges of poverty to a better life, or living out our faith and helping create a better world.
Bob has a list of the “saints” among us:
- “Parents of sponsored children who heroically take on the real issues of our day.
- “Hundreds of thousands of children, youth and aging persons who maintain hope.
- “Sponsors/members of our CFCA family who remain faithful year after year.
- “Co-workers of CFCA who persevere and inspire us.
“To each of you I say: Please know of our love and admiration.”
We interviewed three longtime CFCA staff members in different countries for their perspectives on our 30th anniversary. Here are excerpts from their reflections.
- Malou Navio, CFCA project coordinator in Antipolo, Philippines. She has worked 19 years with CFCA.
“My work with the sponsored children, aging and families in attaining their hopes and dreams based on their total well-being is a very fulfilling work for me as a community health nurse by profession.
“At present, the project works with almost 8,000 sponsored friends and their families organized into 521 small caring groups of 15 neighboring families called Kapitbahayan (neighbors). This structure animates the families with responsibilities, creative thinking and decision making. There are lots of ongoing developments with Kapitbahayan groups on family, community life and environmental responsibility that are far reaching and long lasting.”
- Peter Ndungo, CFCA project coordinator in Nairobi, Kenya. He has worked more than seven years with CFCA.
“[In the Hope for a Family sponsorship program,] mothers of sponsored children together with CFCA staff members evaluate those most in need of sponsorship. The mothers and sponsored friends decide how best to use the sponsorship funds.
“This has increased the understanding of CFCA identity within families in the sponsorship program, and they now have clear goals and plans.”
- Tr·nsito Hern·ndez, CFCA project coordinator in Colombia. She has worked 30 years with CFCA.
“When I met Bob [Hentzen] in Cartagena, more than 30 years ago, he invited me to be part of the start of an NGO that they were founding, whose mission and vision coincided with the services that we provided. …
“In the CFCA Hope for a Family program in Medellin, one can tell the participants and their families know they belong to a worldwide movement that is on the same path and is building a future, step by step, each day. They practice a commitment to nonviolence. They are also aware of the role that their sponsors play in their lives, and they know they have gone from less humane to more humane conditions.”
Thank you for an incredible 30 years of walking with us!