Mar 22 2012

CFCA helps families in Colombia recover after flooding

Flooding in Cali, Colombia

Scenes after flooding in a community served by CFCA's project in Cali, Colombia.

Heavy rains in a community served by CFCA’s project in Cali, Colombia, caused a river to overflow in January, causing major damage to the homes of 17 sponsored friends and their families.

Many people from this community were evacuated after the Cauca River flooded. The river crosses more than 40 percent of the community and is the main source of income for residents.

Families in the CFCA sponsorship program often earn a living by extracting river sand for construction. That has not been possible since the heavy rains.

As part of CFCA’s outreach to those affected, staff members visited families in the sponsorship program who live in the affected areas as well as in shelters.

They also helped coordinate efforts with local authorities to rescue some of the families’ possessions and provide food and other items according to their needs.

Here are the thoughts and perspectives from two parents of sponsored children.

Carlos’ story

I was at home when the river began to rise. I had to go to work.

I warned my family about the situation and asked if it kept rising to call me. At 3 p.m. I came back from work; the river was already inside my house, so I put up all the equipment, jars and other utensils over bricks so they wouldn’t get wet.

I told my wife and children to go to a shelter elsewhere and I would stay at home, but none of them wanted to leave.

We borrowed a boat and stayed at home, asking God to lower the water level. The house remained in a very poor condition: the foundation was disintegrating, walls were cracked and the house was tilted. I had to put bamboo to hold the front wall of the house.

Laura (Maria Sotelo, CFCA staff member and volunteer coordinator) came to visit us, not inside because she couldn’t (laughs).

In these difficult times Bertha (Duran, CFCA project coordinator in Cali) and other staff members visited my house. That meant a lot; you don’t feel alone.

Just a prayer from good people counts a lot; you know that in the good and bad times they are there for you.

Laura does not leave us alone; she gives us words of encouragement and speaks to encourage us to move forward.

My children’s sponsorship is helping me with their future and because we are motivated to manage resources to improve our homes, in addition to all the sponsorship benefits received for my children. This helps us move forward.

Gloria’s story

(Before the flooding) we were told that the river was rising too fast. We placed a stick to mark the rise of water.

Flooding in Cali, Colombia

Scenes after flooding in a community served by CFCA's project in Cali, Colombia.

Half an hour later the stick was already covered. We began to worry at home and although we did not want to alarm our daughters, we began to prepare things because we did not know what could happen.

Around 9 p.m. the house began to rattle, the bamboos to sound. We couldn’t sleep.My husband decided to stay up and take care of our daughters while they were sleeping.

The following day we realized the water level was too high, and the stability of the house was very weak. With tears in our eyes we decided to evacuate our belongings.

There is a ranch in front of our house and the caretaker is a good friend of ours. He offered us a space to stay there.

We have received visits from CFCA staff members. The project coordinator came to us and talked to us. We can see their concern in this situation.

Laura visited us and talked to us. Ana Solarte (a CFCA volunteer) also has visited and given us words of encouragement to succeed. They have been good to us; we feel that helping hand.

Continuing challenges

Although the heavy rains have dropped in intensity, the community still faces challenges related to the flooding.

“Summer has helped the water level decrease, but now we are seeing more insects, rodents and dangerous reptiles from the flooding,” said Laura Maria Sotelo, CFCA staff member and volunteer coordinator.

Laura also said the CFCA project is working with the community and government to manage state resources to benefit the poorest families, especially to construct decent and safe housing.

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