Harrison Garcia, CFCA communications liaison in Colombia, was covering a story in Cali, Colombia, when a storm packing heavy rains and high winds passed over the community.
Mothers, CFCA staffers and others in the community stepped up to help clean and repair the damage to several homes of sponsored children.
By Harrison Garcia, CFCA communications liaison for Colombia
In May 2013, Harrison Garcia, CFCA communications liaison in Colombia, visited our CFCA office in Cali, Colombia.
Harry was working on a story about a mothers group in a Cali neighborhood when a severe storm blew through the community.
CFCA serves 64 sponsored friends and their families in the small community. At least seven of the families’ homes were damaged in the storm.
Harry photographed and reported an amazing story of bravery, loyalty and love for one’s neighbor as families reached out to each other in the storm’s aftermath.
On the afternoon of April 23, at 4:40 p.m., rain started to pound on the roof of the school where 11 mothers were having their regular mothers group meeting.
I noticed the mothers began to worry about their children at home when the power went out and the roof of the school started to collapse.
Forceful winds often accompany the rains in Cali, and it can become quite dangerous for people who do not have a home built with sturdy materials.
We evacuated the classroom and went to another area of the school where it was safe but dark.
The mothers started to pray for everyone to be safe in their homes.
After 30 minutes of hard rain, we had the chance to go outside, and we ran to see what happened with the children who were at home.
Many of the sponsored friends and their families in this area live in single-parent households.
These single parents are typically mothers who were either widowed or abandoned by their husbands.
The streets are not paved, and their homes are made of plastic, wood, tin, clay, bricks and zinc. When the rain comes, they lose their electricity and have to cook their food over an open fire.
With little to no high school education, most of the mothers work as domestic help in family homes or sell products on the street to support their families.
Every rainy season homes are damaged because of the heavy rains and strong winds.
Running in the rain, the mothers divided up. Some of them went to pick up their children from school and others ran to their neighborhood to check on the damages to the homes.
Thankfully, the children were safe.
A total of seven homes, though, were damaged by the storm. Roof tiles had been blown off, letting rainwater spill onto the mattresses and other household items.
Everyone assumed a role during the emergency.
Some helped to salvage household items and some helped to repair the roofs that blew off the homes. Others helped out by making hot coffee for those working to repair the homes.
All the families were united through CFCA.
In that moment, I could see how these families loved and cared for each other.
I spoke with some of the sponsored children in Cali, and they hope to study and get a good education to get ahead in life. Many of them dream of buying a new home for their mother.