In the countries where we work, the elderly often have no one to depend on for their well-being. They receive no social security and may not be able to count on family members for support, as adult children are often occupied with their own survival.
About three years ago, a community in Guatemala noticed some of our sponsored aging friends had difficulties traveling to the local CFCA office for birthday celebrations, Christmas celebrations and other CFCA activities. So they decided to take the celebrations to the sponsored friends’ own homes, and that’s how regular visits to sponsored elderly began!
In the words of Olga Argueta, CFCA staff member in Guatemala
Every three months we plan one whole day for visiting the elderly. We have identified six friends of the 50 sponsored aging friends in our community who have difficulties moving around, and they are the ones we visit.
As a group, for this activity we visit three elderly friends every six months. But every social worker has monthly visits to stay up to date with each sponsored friend’s condition.
During our visits we spend some time talking and listening to our friend. This makes them feel uplifted and loved. They truly appreciate our affection, and I believe this is as important as the monthly sponsorship benefit they receive.
Sometimes other sponsored elderly friends will come along with the staff. We clean their home, make their bed and wash dishes or clothes.
We prepare a snack or a meal, and we all eat together. Sometimes we have games.
Every visit brings back good memories. I remember one of our elderly friends who I thought was too old to do heavy chores.
We visited him in his home, but then he decided to take us into the forest to gather firewood.
We ended up cooking our meal in the woods, and I witnessed how our visit gave this aging person the will and the strength to get up from his bed and have a good time. I also remember his laughs while I was carrying a big load of firewood back to his home.
I have each one of their smiles in my memories, and that is the greatest reward that I have and treasure.
In the words of Cleta, a sponsored aging friend in Guatemala
Cleta is in her nineties, but when you ask her age, she says, “I am 40,” and laughs. Even though Cleta had eight children (two have passed away), she lives alone in her home.
How often do you receive visits from outside?
Not very much. Once in a while my neighbor comes over to give me food, but that’s about it. My children try to visit as much as they can, but I usually stay home by myself.
They [her children] have suggested that I should live with them, but I prefer to stay in my home because I was born here and I want to live here until my last day.
What do you like about the CFCA staff visits?
I feel lonely. I would probably stay in bed all day if it weren’t for my friends from CFCA. It is boring to be in bed and have no one around you.
(Cleta looks at Olga and says to her: “I am happy that you came today. You are bringing joy to my heart and a smile to my soul.”)
Is there any message you would like to give your sponsor?
I have heartfelt gratitude for my sponsors as they are with me when I feel lonely. I ask for their prayers. May God reward their kindness and may God bless them.
Thanks to them, today I am wearing a new dress that I received as a monthly benefit in CFCA.
Anything else you would like to add?
Thank you for bringing happiness to my home, thank you for the food, thank you for your love, thank you for your kind hearts and for your prayers.