By Sandra Rodriguez Nieto, aging program coordinator for CFCA’s Bogota project in Colombia
Working with the sponsored elderly in Bogota has been a very interesting process. We meet many people who have histories filled with pain and loneliness.
However, it is inspirational to see how they have overcome these situations.
They are always ready to move forward. That’s why, through CFCA’s Hope for a Family program, we seek to improve the quality of life for elderly people, empowering them and offering dignity.
Our programming includes working with aging friends to make crafts and establish exercise routines to strengthen their mobility. These tools enable them to learn new things while reaching within the skills and talents they already have.
Every two weeks, aging friends meet at each CFCA office in their local area. Rain or shine, they always show up on time, though most of them live in the peripheral neighborhoods of Bogota.
They always come with a smile and sometimes bring small presents such as biscuits, crackers or fruit to share.
Each meeting is divided into four parts. We begin with roll call. We then try to strengthen the CFCA identity by teaching the Hope for a Family model.
Teaching the model can be complex. Because of age, many of them quickly forget topics discussed in previous meetings.
However, it’s a great opportunity to attend because many of them express feelings of loneliness. These meetings help them feel that they are part of the CFCA family, which for some is the only form of family they may have.
In the second part of the meeting, we focus on praying. A different sponsored aging friend conducts the prayer in each meeting, promoting the participation of all members.
In the third part of the meeting, they exercise. These exercises are run by a sponsored elderly woman who is a leader in the community. Some who have mobility problems still participate in the exercise while remaining seated.
The fourth part of the meeting is designated craft time. Sometimes we color or work with clay, wool, sticks or other recyclable material.
It is a magical moment when the sponsored friends make the crafts step by step. I can see them smiling and talking with one another.
I see that they are happy and filled with life. They are excited about sharing, and they proudly carry the crafts they have made back to their homes with them.
In these ways, the project in Bogota brings hope to each family of sponsored aging friends.