May 25 2012

Colombian mother to sponsors: ‘You represent hope for our families’

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“Bob’s notes” are reports from CFCA President Bob Hentzen, who regularly accompanies mission awareness trip participants. You can see Bobís full update on his Facebook page.

From the northern border with Venezuela to the southern border with Ecuador, we’ve walked every kilometer of Colombia, this wonderful country.

(Editor’s note: This is a reference to Walk2gether, the nearly 8,000-mile solidarity walk that Bob and CFCA staffers undertook through 12 Latin American countries. The walk lasted from December 2009 to June 2011.)

I remain deeply grateful for all the blessings, prayers and solidarity.

CFCA in Colombia

Colombia is special to me and to my family. I first landed here in 1960 as a Christian Brother missionary teacher.

I was assigned to Colegio La Salle, Cartagena. I have many wonderful memories of my students and fellow teachers at La Salle.

Since Cristina and I sponsored the first CFCA child, Florelia Delgado (in the CFCA project in Bogota), CFCA in Colombia has grown to include 19,349 children and 2,179 elderly friends.

In addition, we currently have 1,552 Colombian children on our waiting list for sponsorship.

Our CFCA family in Colombia includes five major projects (Antioquia, Bogota, Cartagena, Cali and Quibdo).

All staff members at our Antioquia project (together with a few spouses and babies) were on hand to welcome the sponsors at the CFCA central office in Medellin.

Currently we are blessed with 18 major seminarians in formation at the Conciliar Seminary.

They come from modest families, and 15 of them are sponsored through CFCA’s vocation sponsorship program, which supports men and women studying for a religious vocation.

I’m told this seminary was the venue of the famous Episcopal Conference of Medellin of 1968.

Sponsored children from Cali were able to enjoy this pleasant setting, called “Pueblito Paisa,” with their sponsors.

Sponsors Clarice and Deacon Jerome Thetreau celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary on this mission awareness trip. They marked this wonderful occasion by sponsoring an additional little girl.

Sponsors experienced the importance and practicality of cable cars in Medellin. This means of economic transportation has opened up more possibilities for families living in the higher areas.

In her own home, a CFCA mother confidently speaks to sponsors: “You represent hope for our families. We can now dream of a better future.”

We spent a most enjoyable couple of hours with the CFCA community of Zamora ó children, teens, elders, sponsors, staff. Everyone participated.

CFCA scholars are a big inspiration and help in the rough areas of Medellin. Some families have moved to Medellin after being caught in the crossfire of armed conflict.

Mothers prepared in a livelihood skill are a tremendous asset in any CFCA project.

Families in La Cometa sector of Medellin endure a high level of unemployment, domestic violence and illiteracy rates.

The mothers, anxious to change this situation, are very interested in training programs. This program offers extracurricular and recreational activities.

Several mothers and teens mentioned that they are learning guitar. Our prayer is that these programs will help to keep the youth distanced from gangs and violence.

We had the joy of visiting the 98 sponsored children and adults at the Hogar in Medellin.

At two sites in Medellin, a community of very dedicated Sisters and Brothers devote themselves to these dear people with different abilities.

We spent the last afternoon and evening in Medellin in the high rural area overlooking Medellin. This area called Pueblo Viejo is home to 667 CFCA families.

They have made it a point to study CFCA values at the family level. They know the story of our growth over these 30 years, and they are very identified with CFCA.

I write in the bus now. It’s evening. We have spent this entire day in Turbaco, where we are privileged to work with over 500 sponsored children and aging friends and their families.

As with all of our days on these trips, this day has been long and beautiful. Of tremendous impact are the testimonies and the example of CFCA mother leaders and our scholars.

A tremendously warm day in Pasacaballos … not only heat from the sun … heat from the hearts of the CFCA members.

Children and youth are in their formation classes and sports. Mothers groups are ready to launch their first livelihood projects.

Thoughts from the children:

  • “I am 13 now. I want to thank my sponsor for all these years … but especially for visiting me. I want her to know that I have grown and learned so many things since her last visit.”
  • “I am 11. I am happy because I am going to meet my sponsors. When I knew about this, I got so excited. Much love to you from my siblings and from my mother.”
  • “We are 13 and 11. We are so proud to have the most special sponsors in the world. They love us a lot, and we love them as our parents. Bless them always.”
  • “We are 11 and 6. We love our sponsors. They are part of our family.”

We are here to listen.

These are our scenes from Medellin and Cartagena. Photo credits go to the CFCA teams in each area.

Cristina and I thank you for your solidarity and prayers. We now move on to the mission awareness trip in Bogota.

Bob Hentzen
Cartagena, Colombia
May 16, 2012

0 thoughts on “Colombian mother to sponsors: ‘You represent hope for our families’”

  1. Glad to hear the work of CFCA is helping many in Colombia. My wife’s family lives in Colombia so for me Colombia is my second home. I arrived to visit my wife’s family yesterday and had I come a few days earlier I would have loved to met up with the MAT group that was in Bogota. God bless to all!

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