Although we call them centers, which sound like big operations, they actually consist of one or a few local staff members. They help us find and feature stories from our sponsored children and aging friends.
We’d like to introduce you to each communications center liaison, continuing with Henry Flores, director of the CFCA Communications Center in El Salvador.
On Jan. 10, 1981, at 3 p.m., my dad, brother and I were at an ice cream shop. My brother was 13 years old and I was 9.
We were eating a vanilla banana split when we heard high-caliber gunshots accompanied by strong detonations, similar to what grenades sound like in Hollywood movies.
Employees started to close the place. Other customers ran out. My dad looked at us, and I saw fear in his eyes.
We ran outside. Gray smoke was in the air. I felt his arm around me. It did not feel like a hug; it felt like protection. I did not know my life was changing to an unexpected future.
That was the day that a 12-year civil war started in my country, El Salvador. The local army base, about two blocks away from the ice cream shop, was under attack.
The civil war caused pain, death and the migration of thousands of Salvadorans, including me.
Growing up amid a civil war was difficult, but the beauty of childhood innocence was a blessing.
My mother is a farm girl who fell in love with a city boy and married him, a woman with a profound sense of solidarity.
I remember one day, a worker from our municipality cut his hand open while picking our neighbor’s trash. He was bleeding abundantly.
My mom took him inside our home and assisted him, and at that time I thought, “Why is she helping a total stranger?”
My dad was a bread maker, who at age 16 used to get up around 3 a.m. to make bread and go out selling it. He studied hard and became a bookkeeper.
A few years ago, he retired as the finance manager from a company that manufactured heavy machinery for coffee-processing plants.
My friends and I grew up playing street soccer, riding our bikes, attending school, and as teenagers, we also went to parties and found dates.
We lived fully even though many times during the war, we had to be home before curfew time at 6 p.m. Staying outside after that time was pretty much a death sentence.
In 1988, I was a senior in high school and I told my mother, “Mom, I want to be a journalist.”
She looked at me and said, “No, they are getting killed.”
She was right; the war intensified over the next three years. After graduating at 16, I left the country for the U.S. to escape from the dangers of war. My parents and brother stayed.
The seven years I lived there changed my view of life and opened a new world for me, but there was a longing inside me to go back home. I strongly believe it was God’s call.
The civil war ended in 1992, and I came back to El Salvador in 1995.
A little while after returning, I found a job as a translator in CFCA-El Salvador.
I thought, “This is a good job for me to adjust back into the country until I find a better job.”
It has been 18 years since then, and you can see there hasn’t been anything better than CFCA for me.
All these years I have received love, respect, dignity and motivation from CFCA. I’m not just an employee, but a member of a movement that believes that a better future for those living in poverty is possible.
CFCA helped me rediscover my people, those who have been hidden and forgotten.
Thanks to those living in poverty, I understand why my mom helped that man and why my dad studied hard to become a bookkeeper.
They wanted to instill in me the values of solidarity and compassion, as well as a hard-working attitude.
Growing up in the middle of a war, leaving my house and family at a young age, living in a different country, learning English, adjusting to a different culture, working hard and attending school after working all day, gave me the tools I needed for my life of adventure in CFCA.
In CFCA I’ve been able to offer the best of me to those in need and help them reach their desired potential, but it also helped me reach my own.
After wearing many hats in the organization, I now serve as the director of the CFCA Communications Center in El Salvador and finally became the journalist I wanted to be.
I’m also the father and husband I dreamed to be, thanking God for Roxana, my wife, and Sofia and Henry Jr., my children.
As the CFCA co-founder, president and my mentor, Bob Hentzen, always says, “I ask our Lord for giving us a spirit of always beginning.”
One thing I am sure of: I am only beginning.