We recently featured a story about Nectania, a former sponsored child and scholar in Nicaragua who became a CFCA staffer after she graduated.
Bismark and Mayela are two other CFCA scholars turned staffers in Nicaragua. Here are their stories, told in their words. Enjoy!
Bismark: Overcoming obstacles in life
I was abandoned by my mother at age 3, and I never met my father. I was raised by my grandmother, Estela, who unfortunately died from cancer when I was only 6.
I used to come to school at 7 a.m., since I was living in a distant community.
I had to leave my house at 5 a.m., and ride my bike every day in a 6-mile (10-kilometer) commute. If I got a flat tire, it was difficult because I had to carry my bike all along my trip to or from school.
At age 18, I finished high school and asked myself, “How am I going to pay for my university education?” I wanted to study to become a professional.
I decided to request a scholarship at the local municipality. I was lucky; I got one!
In the beginning, I studied full time for a tropical agro-ecological engineering degree.
Sadly, three months later, the authorities at the university told me that the scholarships financed by the municipality had been withdrawn, and I could not continue with my studies unless I covered the cost of my tuition.
I decided to study on Saturdays only and started to work as a mason/bricklayer, making 80 córdoba per day ($3.38 US) to pay my tuition.
A short time later, the construction project was completed, and I lost my job.
One day I visited a friend of mine, and he told me about an organization facilitating scholarships for economically challenged students. I did not think twice — I got all my papers ready and went to the CFCA office in Nicaragua.
I entered CFCA as a scholarship holder at age 19 and in my second year of university.
I considered the scholarship as a gift from God. Back then, my CFCA scholarship helped cover my university costs and meals.
I was an active CFCA scholar for about two years. After that I asked the CFCA coordinator for a part-time job opportunity at CFCA.
I began working part time in 2008. I worked for two years as a social worker, and worked with an average of 300 families.
It was a nice experience for me. It meant lots of responsibility, working with families.
I felt l was contributing to society, and I was also receiving so much love from families: love I never had before.
At 22 years old, I began working full time for CFCA. I feel happy with what I do because to me, to serve is more important than being served.
What I like the most about CFCA is that it is in constant evolution and change. It is not neutral; it really works for the families most in need, whom we learn so much from every day.
Mayela: Inspired by helping others
At age 16, I left my home in Nicaragua to go to the city of Esteli, an unknown city for me, with the goal of obtaining a degree in computer engineering.
My first goal was to pass the university admission exam. Thank God I made it.
I had many challenges, since my parents have few economic resources, and they cannot help me with much.
Moving out meant that I had to pay rent, food and transportation, so my goal was to have a part-time job.
After looking for work for a year with no luck, CFCA came into my life.
A classmate explained to me that she was a scholarship holder at CFCA, and that there was one opening in the program.
I went to the CFCA office with so much hope. I had an interview with the social worker, and after that, it was a matter of waiting.
In February 2009, I entered CFCA as a scholarship holder. My first experience was delivering a letter from a sponsor to the sponsored friend.
I met a very cheerful family, who asked me many questions and began telling me about their life.
I was able to see their gratitude for their sponsor. It was a pleasant day; I left satisfied.
I met many people and learned from all my experiences at the CFCA office with other scholars and the staff members.
Each day was a new experience for me. Simply helping distribute benefits was a special experience — seeing the people’s gratitude, knowing that they would no longer suffer from hunger or cold.
Little by little I began appreciating what I was doing.
With the CFCA scholarship I received, I could cover my transportation and food expenses at the university.
It was a great relief. CFCA was helping me to accomplish my goal of becoming a professional.
I completed my studies amidst many economic challenges, but that does not matter anymore.
I learned from those tough experiences and today, I appreciate what I have accomplished, as well as the many people that helped me get there.
CFCA has taught me that if we want something we can accomplish it, and that friendship is a gift from God.
I came to the city without the support to be able to complete my education. There were days that I starved, but God never abandoned us; he open many doors for me.
Later on, when I was in the fourth year of studying for my degree in computer engineering, I had my professional internship, which required my full-time attention.
I could no longer be with CFCA and sadly, I had to leave the CFCA scholarship program.
It was sad to leave my co-workers and the families served by CFCA.
God helped me find a place that would help me economically while I was doing my professional internship for six months.
During this time, I never lost contact with CFCA and after completing the internship I received some good news: I had a job proposal from CFCA to become a social worker in Nicaragua.
I was very happy to accept this opportunity, and I hope God will give me the strength to keep collaborating in this cause.