There is a special spot in the corner classroom of the “Green Neighborhood” in a place called Operation Breakthrough.
With blue and brown eyes shining, pink and purple hair beads flopping, and big smiles on happy faces, preschool children sang songs, created priceless paintings and cut dozens of artistic paper creations for CFCA staff who had come to visit the child care center and preschool, which happens to be just up the street from CFCA offices in Kansas City.
Four-year-old Andrew was particularly eager to make a new friend, immediately slinging his arm around CEO Paco Wertin while CFCA’s Barclay Martin began playing his guitar.
“When you look into those beautiful eyes of the Operation Breakthrough kids, you can’t help but see the children in the countries where we work around the world,” Paco said.
CFCA has made a commitment to benefit 20 children who spend their days in the Green Neighborhood classroom of Operation Breakthrough.
A $15,000 grant will not only fund early education for the children, but will also help social workers provide one-on-one guidance for parents on issues such as housing, job searches and the everyday stress of raising children.
Operation Breakthrough is one place these 3- and 4-year-olds can come to learn, play and be loved in a safe environment, since the world just outside this inner-city child care center can be scary.
One-fourth of the children who arrive at Operation Breakthrough each day are homeless. The sounds of gun shots, police sirens and despairing voices are part of their everyday reality.
“These are great kids,” said Operation Breakthrough co-founder Sister Berta Sailer. “Their parents are hard-working people who are really trying against heavy obstacles to make a good life for their children.”
The difficult circumstances that surround this center full of innocent kids strengthen the resolve at CFCA to support groups in the United States that share our global vision of what is possible for children and families if they receive the right help.
“Our programs in developing countries are tailored to empower families, especially mothers, in ways that help them make good choices about the future for their children and families,” said Laney Haake, CFCA director of U.S. outreach.
In many ways Operation Breakthrough mirrors CFCA programs overseas.
Operation Breakthrough serves more than 400 children a day, with quality food, early education, therapy and health and dental clinics. Operation Breakthrough uses a holistic approach to empower mothers and support families.
“I have never been to a foreign country,” Sister Berta said. “I know there is a lot of poverty there. But many families here try so hard. We are delighted CFCA has chosen to help them, too.”
CFCA is known for building strong personal relationships through one-to-one sponsorships with children and aging friends in the 22 countries where we work.
“While CFCA does not offer one-on-one sponsorship of children in the United States, we recognize the need to support an organization like Operation Breakthrough in their efforts to provide much-needed services to children and families in the community,” Laney said.
With this safe environment, educational resources and an encouraging presence to assist families out of poverty, we believe the children in the corner classroom of the Green Neighborhood can live happy, healthy lives.
Little Andrew will likely not remember the day he gave CFCA’s CEO the hug that made his day.
But all of us at CFCA hope this will be the beginning of a friendship that will change lives for the better.
“We are walking with them right here, right now,” Paco said. “We are going on their journey.”