Category: Africa

Sep 30 2008

Budding journalists record benefits distribution in Tanzania

With no prior video experience, two office assistants at CFCAís project in Tanzania have captured a recent benefits distribution day at the project office in Tegeta.

Emma, 19 and formerly sponsored, operated the video camera, while 21-year-old Freddie played host. Minor edits and subtitles have been added to the short clip.

Itís hard to tell from his confident presentation that a few years ago, Freddie was ìpathologically shy,î Project Coordinator Mary Dawn Reavey said. His confidence gradually improved after becoming sponsored several years ago. Besides attending high school, Freddie helps translate letters for the project.

Emma helps with project photos and discovered the cameraís video button by accident. Reavey said he has a gift for training and teaching.

Sponsored members visit the project office monthly to collect nutritional benefits, including maize flour, rice, sugar and supermix ujióa high-protein porridge. Once every quarter, sponsored members receive hygiene benefitsósuch as toothbrushes, toothpaste and bar soapóin addition to the nutritional items. Members also receive help with education, health care and home repairs.

The young men promised to send more video clips of day-to-day life in Tanzania.

Sep 26 2008

How you experience the food crisis depends on where you live

People with the means to cope with rising prices experience the food crisis through the news.

But people living in poverty experience the food crisis directlyóthrough their stomachs.

Take the story of Sandra, a 38-year-old mother of four who lives in El Salvador. She no longer can afford to buy certain food items. If it wasnít for CFCA benefits, her children wouldnít have milk to drink. Sandra makes about $6 a day selling lemons in the public market. When things get bad, the family eats tortillas and margarine for dinner.

In Kenya, 20-year-old Peter said his family canít afford to buy bread. Meat? Only for Christmas, Kenyan Independence Day and weddings. Breakfast? Tea with milk and sugar.

In Antipolo, Philippines, 45-year-old Myrna is a mother of seven. She does laundry for $5 a day when her carpenter husband doesnít have work. On days with lower income, the family eats porridge or skips meals. On paydays, they are able to enjoy rice with fish and vegetables. One of Myrnaís children is sponsored through CFCA.

Two mothers in Hyderabad, IndiaóBhulakshmi and Maniósaid their cost of food has doubled in a year. They must be satisfied with rice and pickles because they no longer can afford fruits and vegetables.

These are the hidden faces behind statistics reported by the U.S. Department of Agricultureís Economic Research Service. The ERS compared expenditures on food in countries around the world (as a percentage of total expenditures using 2006 dataónot including restaurant purchases):

United States††††† †† 5.7%
United Kingdom††††8.8%
Germany††††††††††††† †11.5%
Chile†††††††††††††††††††† 23.5%
Philippines††††††††††† 37.6%
Ecuador†††††††††††††††† 21.8%
Bolivia†††††††††††††††††† 29.0%
Peru†††††††††††††††††††††† 29.3%
India††††††††††††††††† ††† 33.4%††

Wondering if there’s more you can do to help? Read about CFCA’s Food Crisis Assistance Fund.

To view the full U.S. Department of Agriculture report, click here. published a photographic comparison of what families in different nations eat in a weekís time. Click here to see this photo essay.

By Monte Mace, writer and editor in the CFCA-Kansas City office. With reporting and photography from Henry Flores, El Salvador; Sister Joanne Gangloff, Kenya; and Maria Lourdes Navio in the Philippines.

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Sep 24 2008

Notes from the Field #3 – Madagascar

Cephas Miningou, financial auditor for the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging’s Africa region, talks about a family who lost their home in a fire and the meaning of the CFCA “Community of Compassion.”

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Sep 2 2008

“CFCA came in with HOPE…”

The following letter was written by a sponsored†youth in Liberia.†He writes about the challenges he has overcome after 14 years of civil unrest in his country and about how CFCA has been a constant†source of hope in his life. We hope you’ll read his letter to you.

My name is Nyankoi. I was born on Sept. 9, 1986. I am a Liberian. As most Liberians, I have had my share of trauma, challenges and difficulties in life.

After 14 years of civil unrest, I am happy to be among the living. During the years of civil war, my mother and I went to the hinterland along with my brothers. We went to our village from Monrovia where we lived prior to the war. We returned to Monrovia in 1991 and I started pre-school, which was at first free. I attended for a year and could not continue because of financial reasons. My late father was not working then and hence things were very difficult.

It was there and then that CFCA came in with HOPE. It is often said that a man can live without food for seven days, without water for three days, but no man can live without HOPE for a second. It is in this light that I can never forget the pit of sorrow CFCA took me from.

I became a part of the CFCA program in 1994 when I was 8 years old and in the second grade. I was accepted into the program when my father asked the priest at our parish for assistance in getting me to school. It was then that Father Jackson decided that I should get on the program because of my financial status. Since then there has never been a turning back because I took it as a challenge and never repeated a single class throughout my entire school year.

Today, I am proud to say that because of CFCA, I am who I am. My entire high school and even to some extent my college fees have been paid through the service-scholarship by CFCA. Throughout my high school years, I had many tough times but I believe that tough times donít last but tough people do. This has moved me to persevere in all I do. …
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Aug 25 2008

“CFCA brought a smile to me…”

The following letter was written by a sponsored child in CFCA’s Nairobi, Kenya project. She writes about her life experiences, and about how sponsorship allowed her to go to school and change the direction of her life. We hope you’ll take a minute to read her touching words.

My name is Sylvia. I was born on 8th December 1989 in a family of six, two brothers and two sisters. I am from the Maasai community, a pastoralist community in Kenya. Maasai tribe is a very unique community in Kenya. This tribe has preserved its culture and some of the things we do are outdated. There is high preference of early marriages, female genital mutilation, use of traditional dressing, lives in Manyatta (traditional houses), moranism (where young people are trained in the forest to be courageous), less value of education and traditional drinking of raw cowsí blood.

Despite being born in the Maasai community – a tribe which migrates due to its pastoral practices in search of pasture, my dad took me to school at a tender age of 5, which was very rare. At that time, girls of my age were being taught how to manage their own homes. My dad was not educated but he wanted all his children to be educated. He had a vision and he knew education would empower his children. Schooling was exciting but not all that fun because my school was a bit far from home and at times the weather was not conducive for schooling because our place is semi-arid.

One Saturday morning, my dad woke me up so as not to be late for school. Pupils in higher class level (6-8) were expected to go to school on Saturdays but only for six hours. After classes that day we started heading home. A big crowd had formed near our homestead. What is it? What is happening? Many questions lingered in my mind.
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Jun 19 2008

India mothers groups inspire Kenyans

Janet Tinsley, CFCA International programs – Africa project director, reflects on the many ways the India mothers groups have inspired sponsored mothers in Kenya.

The culture of creativity and courage that Fr. Francis (the late Father Francis Thumma), the Hyderabad team and the sponsored mothers set into motion extends far beyond the borders of India.

A spirit of cooperation and ingenuity has always been present on the African continent, but recently the CFCA community in Nairobi, Kenya, became inspired by Hyderabad’s example of the culture of creativity and courage.

Janet and CFCA-Nairobi project coordinator, Peter, in India.

The CFCA-Nairobi project coordinator, Peter Ndungo, and I immersed ourselves in the Hyderabad spirit in an inspirational visit and exchange of ideas at the Hyderabad project last November. Immediately upon Peter’s return to Kenya, the Nairobi project team began taking steps to put the sponsorship resources into the hands of the Nairobi mothers through sponsored mothers groups.

The Nairobi mothers had some setbacks as a result of post-election violence that broke out in Kenya just after the first of this year. The mothers, who primarily live in Nairobi’s sprawling slums, come from a mixture of backgrounds, and when the politically motivated violence took on an ethnic tone, it threatened to tear apart the communities they had only recently begun forming. Tapping into their own limitless creativity, the Nairobi mothers are now courageously putting their political and ethnic differences aside and are examples of peace in their communities through the sponsored mothers groups they are now re-forming.

Because of the inspiration set in motion by Fr. Francis, the Hyderabad sponsored mothers and the project team, the sponsored mothers in Nairobi have started reclaiming their own creativity and courage.

May 21 2008

Visit to Tanzania – entry 3

This is the final entry in a series of three. In March, Rachel Scherzer, who works in Child Services at the CFCA Kansas City office, traveled to Tanzania to visit her sponsored child, Bariki. She spent more than a week living and volunteering at the CFCA Dar es Salaam project.

When I got off the plane in Tanzania, I had no idea what to expect. I had been traveling for more than 24 hours, I was exhausted and in serious need of a shower.

I knew my sponsored child, Bariki, would be beautiful. I had loved him since I got his first picture, a huge smile with several baby teeth missing. I didn’t know that this shy little boy would change the way I thought about things. I had prepared for an adventure and, in the week I spent with him, that’s definitely what I got.

Bariki lost both his parents and two siblings to AIDS, all within a few months. He was shipped from place to place, unwelcome because of the virus he carried or turned away because there was no room for him. He finally landed at the project in Tegeta with Mary Dawn, a stranger who took him in and is now a mother to him.

In sub-Saharan Africa, stories like Bariki’s are tragically common. But the difference is that this particular story belongs to someone that I love. Bariki has become a part of my life. His story is now part of my story.

For me, Bariki has put a face on “world problems” that often seem a comfortable distance from my life here at home. The AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa, something I have been studying closely for years, was not real to me until I met Bariki and his friends in Intensive Day Therapy and saw for myself the staggering drug regime they have to follow. Poverty was not real to me until I saw people doing without basic necessities in Bariki’s neighborhood. I had not realized the general sense of security I felt—knowing that I was protected from such things by the random circumstances of my birth—until I felt its absence in the developing world.

When I don’t know what to pray for, I pray for Bariki. When I need to remember what is important, I think of him. I made the seemingly small decision to let Bariki into my life, and now my life is different.

May 20 2008

Visit to Tanzania – entry 2

This is the second entry in a series of three. In March, Rachel Scherzer, who works in Child Services at the CFCA Kansas City office, traveled to Tanzania to visit her sponsored child, Bariki. She spent more than a week living and volunteering at the CFCA Dar es Salaam project.

I did home visits yesterday, visiting two families who are new to the sponsorship program. These kids live really, really far out. I’m a bad judge of distance, but I know it took us at least 45 minutes to get to the first kid’s house, most of it walking under the scorching African sun. I have some pretty wicked burn/tan lines. It got to the point that I was thanking God for every breeze and patch of shade.

The second girl’s house wasn’t as far but it was all downhill getting there, which means it was all uphill getting back. And, of course, during all of this I’m wearing flip-flops, which was a disaster! My feet were so filthy by the time we got to the first house that the mama insisted I wash my feet. Not only did she insist, she “helped” me, using water that I know she probably couldn’t spare. And then she thanked me profusely for visiting her home!

The kid’s house was so remote that I was probably the only white person the villagers had seen. All the kids rushed out of their houses to stare at the “mzungu” (white person). We also rode the daladala, which is basically their bus, but really it’s just a big van. It was like a clown car in there. Every cubic inch was filled with bodies. I had some woman practically sitting on me at one point. But after all that walking I was grateful to be in a car.

Today I went into town with one of the seminarians. I basically followed him around while he did errands, so I got to see a lot of the city. And we went to the national museum, which shows all the traditional homes that people still live in. They were literally mud huts. The coast is pretty westernized but the further inland you get, the more primitive the conditions. I bought some beautiful postcards and paintings, too, but you may never see them because I will have trouble parting with them.

More to come tomorrow…

May 19 2008

A visit to Tanzania – Entry 1

In March, Rachel Scherzer, who works in Child Services at the CFCA Kansas City office, traveled to Tanzania to visit her sponsored child, Bariki. She spent more than a week living and volunteering at the CFCA Dar es Salaam project. This week we will post a series of reflections from her trip that she e-mailed home. Rachel hopes to return to Tanzania soon!

Today was my first day at the project and I got to see it in full force. I don’t know if I will ever really be able to describe it but it was incredible. They have an intensive day program for about 12 kids who are HIV positive (including my sponsored child, Bariki). They spend the whole day at the project and get all their medicine and meals here. I watched the staff put out all their medications for them, and it was staggering what these kids have to take every single day, twice a day.

A new little girl was admitted to Intensive Day Therapy today, so we had our first day together. Her name is Neema. Her AIDS is full blown, which basically means she has no immune system. She had sores from shingles all down her right arm. But the odd (and very cool) thing is that all the kids are really energetic and happy.

I am also getting stared at like you would not believe. I am one of two white people in the entire city. There are about 2,000 kids at the school here, and I think I was gawked at by every single one. In the nursery school the kids followed me around. Just stopped what they were doing to come over and look at/touch/hug the white girl.

More to come tomorrow…

Apr 25 2008

World Malaria Day

Today is World Malaria Day. Malaria isn’t something we think about much in the U.S., but its devastating effects are still felt around the world.

Malaria afflicts 350 to 500 million people a year; 40 percent of the world’s population.

Malaria is preventable and curable. If not treated, though, it can be deadly. It kills more than a million people a year; mostly young children and pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa is the hardest hit area, but malaria also afflicts Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and even parts of Europe.

CFCA projects in malaria-affected areas are working to help families deal with this threat. The easiest way to prevent malaria is by sleeping under treated bed nets, because the mosquitoes that carry malaria most often bite at night. Unfortunately, although bed nets are not expensive by U.S. standards, most families in malaria-affected areas can’t afford them.

Project Coordinator Mary Dawn Reavey, based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, wrote to us this week about malaria prevention in her community:

Medicated bed nets have been a sponsorship benefit at the CFCA Dar es Salaam project that families can choose from the personalized portion of their sponsorship plan since January 2005. Starting in 2008, every sponsored child receives a medicated bed net as part of his/her health benefit. Also part of the health benefit is malaria testing and treatment. Beginning in February of this year (which is the start of the long rainy season in Dar es Salaam), the project began providing education to sponsored families on the treatment of malaria to coincide with the distribution of mosquito nets to all currently sponsored children. We also have some children with chronic illnesses (e.g. sickle cell anemia, AIDS and severe cerebral palsy) on antimalarial prophylaxis.

Drug-resistant malaria is a huge problem because to most Tanzanian families every illness is “malaria” (any cold, flu, virus, ear infection, abdominal pain, headache, etc. is thought to be “malaria”). The cost of testing is much higher than the medication (40 to 80 cents to test versus 4 cents per tablet—dosage is based on weight so most kids only need 9 to 10 tablets). Family members are able to go into any pharmacy and buy malaria treatment medication without a prescription, so they typically don’t test and instead treat for malaria with any symptom.

CFCA’s BON subproject is located in western Kenya, near Lake Victoria, one of Kenya’s malaria corridors. They wrote to tell us about how they’re fighting this threat, too:

Malaria is prevalent during the rainy season because the mosquitoes tend to multiply during these cold periods. It is transmitted by the female anopheles mosquito, and can be prevented by spraying insecticides, sleeping under treated mosquito nets and draining away stagnant water. It can also be prevented by keeping our home environments clean by clearing all the bushes around our houses and destroying or burning waste containers around our homes since these are breeding places for mosquitoes.

In the fight against malaria, Nairobi-BON subproject always does the following for our beneficiaries:
1. Provide treated mosquito nets at least once a year and ensure that sponsored children and aging sleep under their nets.
2. Create awareness of the dangers of malaria and employ preventive measures like the ones mentioned above.
3. Emphasize the importance of proper hygiene and sanitation.

It is good that these efforts have helped prevent malaria in our beneficiaries since we do not experience many cases of malaria.

On behalf of the CFCA beneficiaries, BON subproject is grateful to CFCA for joining in the fight against this killer disease.

Sponsorship in malaria-affected areas not only allows children to receive bed nets for prevention and quality medical care for treatment if they contract malaria, it also allows families to eat a more nutritious diet. This strengthens their immune system and improves their reaction to medicines. Sponsored children are also able to go to school and learn about the causes and effects of malaria.

This is a great example of how holistic child development, through sponsorship, improves a child’s life in so many ways. Every aspect of their life and sponsorship—food, shelter, education, medical treatment—works together to give them hope and an opportunity to break the cycle of poverty.