Category: awareness trips

Mar 31 2009

A simple bag of groceries is important

Sponsor Margaret Looper was recruited to help distribute bags of food to CFCA families one day during her mission awareness trip to Bolivia. She was surprised by how important a simple bag of groceries is to families in need.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/4242016 w=500&h=350]

Watch more trip testimonials
Hunter Hardin gets to know his friend during a day of fun in Honduras.
A Philippines community puts on a special performance for Colleen Gawley.

A CFCA mission awareness trip is an uplifting experience that will deepen your connection with your sponsored friend and open your eyes to the potential of sponsored members and their families. Spaces are still available on some 2009 trips. Check our trip calendar >

Mar 24 2009

Notes from the Field #7 – El Salvador

Tim Deveney, manager of preacher relations, introduces us to parents Don Enrique and DoÒa Angelina in El Salvador. Although the couple was unable to attend school when they were young, Don Enrique and DoÒa Angelina value learning and make great sacrifices to provide their children with an education.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/4187831 w=500&h=350]

Editor’s note: Hazel was sponsored during a parish appeal on Jan. 24, 2009. Learn how you can volunteer to help at a parish appeal.

Mar 17 2009

Bob’s notes – special report

Mission awareness trips and Colombia national encuentro
Nicaragua – Colombia – Dominican Republic
Feb. 21 – March 7, 2009

Sponsors grow in grace
From the moment we landed in Managua on this beautiful Saturday afternoon, we have been a pilgrim community. The sponsors of Nicaraguan children, youth and aging have a culture all their own. Many have been here several times in the past. They have formed strong relationships with their sponsored families and with one another. It is wonderful to see them grow in grace through walking with the poor.

My group had the pleasure of coming to know an admirable young family. The mother, Alba Luz, 27, has taken special courses in the cultivation and use of medicinal plants and natural medicine. She teaches the other mothers in the community, and her husband, Uricer, cultivates corn and beans on property owned by his father. Their 1-year-old Alvaro is awaiting sponsorship. Weíve been over 10 hours in the vehicle this day, much of it over slow-going rocky roads. One flat tire didnít slow us down much.

In the early hours of Feb. 23, we met sponsors Colleen and George MacKenzie, Alhambra, Calif., together with their granddaughter and outgoing 8-year-old sponsor, Danielle Shields. All three are advocates and have found and motivated over 200 new sponsors. George maintains that their relationship with three sponsored children has changed their lives.

National meeting held
In Medellin, Colombia, everyone has worked very hard to make this a dynamic learning experience for all. Each of the six Colombian projects plus our international team (Brenda; Sarah; my wife,†Cristina; and myself) covered a topic of keen interest to all. The topics included formal and informal education of children in Colombia, long-term and annual program planning, sponsored youth and their formation in values, and measuring the impact of our projects. I will add that the cross-project sharing and the CFCA spirit run strong in this group.

colombia-encuentro3

Music plays a big part in this encuentro (meeting) and all encuentros Ö and folkloric presentations by sponsored children and staff form an integral part of the meeting. The conclusions and resolutions of this encuentro are solid, balanced and heartily embraced by all.
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Feb 20 2009

Visiting the Philippines with Paul

On†the recent mission awareness trip to the Philippines, CFCA President Bob Hentzen and Paul Pearce, CFCA international programs director, divided the sponsors into two groups to travel to different parts of the country.† In this post, Paul tells about his group’s experiences. Read about Bob’s trip.

Mission awareness trip
Philippines, Feb. 2-8, 2009

By bus and by boat
Legazpi staff and sponsored members with their families meet us at the tiny Pili Airport in Naga City. Our group traveled by bus and boat to the hotel. Under the watchful eye of the volcano Isarog, the setting is definitely South Pacific.

The theme Legazpi has chosen for this yearís trip is ìCFCA: Bridging People Amidst Diversity.î Maria Luz, at the closing of her testimonial and upon meeting her sponsors, said she is ìthe happiest girl in the world.î In tears, sponsor Mariano was moved by the hospitality the sponsors received.†We enjoy a rousing, sand-blown rendition of ìThis Little Light of Mine.î

Later, the Legazpi scholarship youth and staff energize a running-out-of-gas sponsor group. Sponsor April and her sponsored friend, Aprilyn, lift the roof with a duet of ìYou Are My Hero.î Sponsors head for the pillow after a long and beautiful day.
April and Aprilyn

Legazpi angels

Riding two big buses, we headed down the coastal road toward Legazpi to participate in a tree-planting activity at the municipal park in the town of Tiwi. After visiting the Tiwi geothermal plant, we pass miles of pristine rice fields, stopping at the ruins of Cagsawa, a colonial church destroyed by one of the many eruptions of the Mayon volcano, and the volcanic rock and mud flow area from the 2006 eruption that killed numerous persons and affected CFCA families substantially.

Sponsors commented how much they liked the ìangelî concept of the Legazpi project. Sponsors were each assigned a staff member, called an angel, to accompany them from arrival to departure, guide them, answer questions and†wake them in the morning, if needed. Sponsors have felt very well-cared-for in Legazpi.


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Feb 16 2009

Bob’s notes – Visit to the Philippines

Mission awareness trip
Jan. 29 – Feb. 9, 2009

A warm welcome
Sponsored children in the Philippines welcome us with a smile and a song. Their choir of 20 sponsored children charmed everyone.
Welcome to the Philippines
With great admiration I note that our dear friend and longtime sponsor Jerry Menard has arrived in good health and great spirit. He currently has two children sponsored in the Philippines. I believe this mission awareness trip marks Jerryís seventh trip this year to visit sponsored children.

During lunch the owners of the Good Shepherd Center in Antipolo, where our group is staying, told me that after meeting the sponsors and learning about CFCA, they, too, want to become sponsors.

Two talented sponsored girls with severe physical limitations won our hearts with an emotional rendition of ìYou Light Up My Life.î Four personal testimonies added meaning and substance to the afternoon.

Visit to former sponsored child, elderly in dump

In Quezon, we split into small groups to visit families and livelihood projects. My group visited the home of Maria Elena, a former sponsored child, recently married and now working as a business analyst and auditor at a major bank. Riding jeepneys and tricycles takes Maria Elena the better part of two hours to get to work and costs about $2. But the work is steady, and Maria Elena is grateful to be able to help her mother.

We were able to visit several aging friends in the dump area of Payatas. They seem to overcome difficult living conditions with hope and determination.

Today after lunch we traveled about one hour into the countryside near Antipolo to encourage an organic and sustainable food/farming program for 21 families. We dedicated a new water pump and hand tractor, purchased with a loan from CFCA. The hand tractor motor also provides power for the new irrigation pump. The tractor and irrigation system permits the CFCA families to produce two rice crops per year – sometimes three.

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Feb 6 2009

Helping Luis smile again

Julie Watson is a member of the CFCA Communications Department. She went on a 2008 mission awareness trip to Bolivia, where she met Luis, her sponsored friend.

He was shy and quiet, and I was the peculiar American whose presence frightened the 4-year-old boy.

While waiting for the bus to depart to the first subproject visit, I felt a tap on my shoulder. A translator from the project was standing there with a surprise for me: Luis, my sponsored friend. I didnít even recognize him. I hadnít been told that I would be meeting him. My own confusion soon turned into exhilaration, and Luisí eyes told me of his confusion, too. He was experiencing something new as well.

LuisAs the bus pulled away from the hotel we took our seats. Luis returned to the security of sitting next to Olivia, his guardian from the orphanage. Slowly, Luis began to smile and make eye contact with me. He was looking around the bus, which was filled with a dozen or more strange, white faces that all looked back at him. His face broke into large smile, and his dark eyes twinkled like stars in the evening sky. As the trip went on, ìShorty,î a nickname given to Luis because of his small stature, began to sit closer to me and play peek-a-boo-type games.

Luis enjoyed the bus ride and sat back in the seat, drinking his soda. I wondered if that was what had contributed to his decaying teeth. Olivia told me that the children in the orphanage donít get sugary snacks or drinks. They did not know what care he had before coming to the orphanage. When I asked if his teeth bothered him, she told me that he often holds his hands cupped around this jaw because of the pain.

Even with the toothaches and a bit of travel sickness, he never ceased to be a bright ray of sunshine for many on this trip, especially myself. I wanted to sweep him up and carry him home, where I could give him everything I thought a 4-year-old needed to be happy and healthy. I settled for helping him in whatever way I could. His immediate need was obvious: helping with his dental care.

LuisWhen I returned to Kansas City, I asked Sponsor Services to ask the project to find out what was wrong with Luisí teeth, and what it would cost to get them fixed. I learned that Luis would need very extensive dental work, yet the total cost would be only $80 U.S. Can you imagine?

Sponsor Services helped me set up a special funds account to pay for his dental work, which the project said would begin sometime in February. I pray that he is feeling better.

I plan to return to Bolivia on the 2009 mission awareness trip and canít wait to see Luis and his new smile. God bless CFCA and all the staff members who are helping my special little friend smile again.

Jan 26 2009

Bob’s notes – Visit to India, part 2

Mission awareness trip
Jan. 6-18, 2009

After spending a most enjoyable week with the sponsors in South India, Cristina, Alvaro Aguilar (Guatemala) and I flew to Hyderabad. We were privileged to visit subprojects, families and mothers groups, together with staff members from CFCA-Kansas and CFCA-Bhagalpur.

Words from a sponsored mother
ìNormally every program ends with the vote of thanks Ö but today this word thanks comes right from the bottom of every motherís heart. Itís not only financial and material knowledge that is given Ö but we are taught how to earn our living, how to educate our children, how to build a good and happy family and how to be a good mother.îóAgnes, Rosevilla Mothers Group

Small mothers group (SMG) leaders conference
This has been a day of inspiration and celebration with about 900 mothers group leaders present and a very high level of energy, identity and ìbuy-inî with the CFCA program.

Inspiring to me were the 20 little girls from subproject BLP, former street children. Sister Margaret shared their stories: This one was abandoned in the railway station. This one was found in the city market. These precious children (ages 2 to10) had prepared a few songs and a birthday cake for Mr. Prakash and they literally became part of my song Esmeralda Ö really because they have lived and are living similar realities today.

Community based
The mothers can be seen walking from their home to the meeting place. The transparency of the program, together with the joy and confidence of the mothers, speak clearly that this program is healthy and sustainable. I believe it can be said that they are truly community-based when our own CFCA colleagues living and serving in their own community give the example of walking with poor without religious, caste or any other prejudice.
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Jan 23 2009

Bob’s notes – Visit to India, part 1

Mission awareness trip
Jan. 6-18, 2009

Sponsors learn the reality of south India; mothers groups become CFCA model
The creativity and dedication of the CFCA community in India has become an ìexpansion-of-vision centerî for staff members from Bolivia, U.S.A, Honduras, Kenya and now Guatemala. Two of our colleagues from Guatemala (Jorge Armas, coordinator, and Alvaro Aguilar, regional director) were invited to participate in the experience of this mission awareness tripófollowed by a more in-depth study of the Hyderabad model of mothers groups. Jorge took ill the night before departure and was not able to travel.

Group orientation
We are happy to be here in Chennai (Madras). All the diocesan priests from the Archdiocese of Chennai together with their archbishop are on retreat at the same convent conference center where we are staying. Father Cyrus Gallagher, a CFCA preacher, was able to concelebrate Holy Mass with them this morning.

12-hour train ride
We made it to the train station in plenty of time for our 12-hour overnight trip to Palay and a good rock-me-to-sleep night on the train in triple-decker sleeping bunks. Athletic types generously scampered upward.

Visit to a familyís home
About 50 kilometers out of Palay, we visited subproject SPT. About 30 mothers and five elderly received us at the humble home of Petchi. For sponsors Gene and Jean, this was a very historical moment, after 11 years of sponsorship of Petchi. Gene said that this day has been one of the ìgreatest in his life.î

The mothers became teachers and the sponsors learners, as we enjoyed a beautiful and meaningful dialog for a couple of hours. One of the special gifts Jean had prepared for Petchi was an anthology of their relationship over these past 11 years. Iím sure it will be treasured.

The profound joy of belonging to CFCA was expressed by children and their mothers, who were clad in sharp-looking blue saris. Following dancing, dialogue and emotional sharing, sponsors were very quiet in the van as we made our way back to Palay in the night under a beautiful Pongal/Harvest Moon.


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Jan 9 2009

Bob’s notes – Visit to Guatemala

Mission awareness trip
Dec. 26, 2008 – Jan. 2, 2009

Trip†participants are special

Our sponsors come in search of many things, many times in search of their place in Godís loving plan for this stage of their lives. The sponsorship relationship between the two families in different parts of the world takes on an immense significance in the lives of both.

As much as we love her, we must realize that Guatemala is plagued with a series of very complicated and challenging problems. In this scene, we live and work Ö and into this scene we dare to invite our sponsors. They travel with confidence, knowing from experience that CFCA lives here. CFCA takes every precaution to watch over our guests. And yes, we pray.

To the highlands

We are gathered in a very pretty place in the highlands near Nahuala called ìCorazon del bosqueî (Heart of the Forest). The CFCA families gathered here today are praying in the Quiche language. It is close to middayóbright blue skies and sunnyóbut still quite cool.

dancers

We now have nine dancers, the girls with beautiful guipiles (traditional Guatemalan blouses), ìcortesî (wrap skirts) and ìtocoyalesî (headdresses), bearing colors and designs with centuries of significance. They carry the recently harvested corn in four different colors. Three dance with incense. The others have baskets of corn. The boys also wear the traditional dress: the ìsherca,î a woolen blanket wrapped around them secured with a leather belt, a typical ìmorral,î a decorated woven bag, and a straw hat.
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Dec 29 2008

Notes from the Field #5 – Guatemala

Chris Palmer, CFCA mission awareness trip coordinator, talks about walking with the poor. During a recent trip to the CFCA project in San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala, Palmer spoke with CFCA board member emeritus Msgr. Greg Schaffer who spoke a simple truth, that we are not trying to “fix” the poor; the poor are not broken.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/4379744 w=500&h=350]