Sep 15 2012

Joy accompanies visitors on a trip to Bolivia

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

It’s a joy to communicate with you from Bolivia.

In this multicultural country of more than 10 million people, many are said to survive on less than $1 a day.

At CFCA, we’ve had the privilege of walking with the Bolivians since 1988. In Bolivia, CFCA currently serves 10,182 sponsored children, 824 sponsored aging friends and 917 families on our waiting list. CFCA scholars play an important role in every project.

Cristina and I arrived in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, from Cali, Colombia. We just finished an inspiring encuentro de formaciÛn (staff formation workshop) with 60 fellow co-workers from all the CFCA projects in Colombia. Our heartfelt thanks and blessings go out to each of you.

We were fortunate to arrive in Bolivia two days before the sponsors arrived. We spent our time preparing for the arrival of the sponsors and making adjustments after tropical storm Isaac. Many flights were delayed because of the storm, which gave us an opportunity for some staff formation.

Thanks to Stacy King, and all those in K.C., for keeping us well-informed of the changes. These Santa Cruz staffers included Domitila, Geovana, Marioly, Sylvia, Lupe, Andrea, and scholars Celine and Roxana.

As a team, we took a full day’s trip (23 hours) out to the rugged mountainous area, where Ernesto “Che” Guevara tried to establish a base of operation in Bolivia in 1967.

He was captured in 1967, and ultimately executed in a little school in the small mountain village of La Higuera.

Felix, our driver for the trip, is originally from this area His older brother, Santos, told us the story of Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s capture, which occurred on Oct. 7, 1967, and his execution, which occurred two days later.

The long trip was tough, but well worth it. In a deep ravine we could see the caves where “el Che” and his companions made their base.

Personally I pray for peace, and I stand for non-violent conflict resolution, yet I find it very impressive to see these places up close and talk to the good people who live in this community.

It was great to see Sister Leonor one morning. In years past, she coordinated the CFCA project in Barrio Primero de Mayo. Now she is principal of a large school (nearly 1,000 children) in this area. Many of the children from this school are sponsored. Over the years, these sisters have become inspiring examples of the “lucha,” (what it takes to live and work in these communities). They remain inspiring examples and close friends of CFCA.

The Sisters and girls from Hogar San Francisco spent Sunday morning with us and accompanied us to Sunday Mass.

The second reading for this Mass hit home: “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world,” (James 1:27, NASB).

We celebrate our community in a spirit of “Aptaphi,” which is an Aymara expression meaning, “sharing a meal in common from what each has been able to bring.”

I heard a mother of a sponsored child say to the sponsors, “We want our children to follow your example.”

Mothers of sponsored children in La Paz have been able to purchase an industrial sewing machine for their livelihood project. They produce blankets for families in these highlands. “We are getting ahead through CFCA.”

Final Note: Over and over again in Bolivia, I have witnessed examples of profound love of country, family, sponsors and CFCA. Our repeated message is that we love them too. Cristina and I head back now to Guatemala, for less than a week. I look forward to seeing everyone in K.C. for a couple of days. Cristina will be able to be with her mother (age 94) in K.C., while I head over to Kenya, Madagascar and Uganda. Please know of our love and gratitude.

(Photo credits for this report go with gratitude to CFCA staff in Sta. Cruz, Cochabamba y La Paz.)

Bob Hentzen
La Paz, Bolivia
September 2012

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