All of India seems to be under construction these days. The city streets are lined with blue tarps screening off building sites. Half-destroyed buildings with gaping holes make the commute to work seem like a trip through a war zone.
These buildings are being torn down to make room for a wider road and a new metro service.
Driving between cities, you must shift back and forth from one side of the highway to the other to accommodate the frequent road construction. And everywhere, everywhere there are piles of sand and gravel and bricks waiting to be molded into new buildings.
The construction frenzy here is fueled by the rapid economic growth India has experienced. Many of the poor are yet to benefit from India’s economic boom, especially the rural poor. But the construction zones everywhere are testimony that things are changing here.
At CFCA we talk about how CFCA should be always under construction. The talk of continuous construction reminds me of when I first came to CFCA.
One of the things that drew me to CFCA during the job interview process was the way the people in the organization projected both excitement and humility.
They seemed to recognize that they were a part of something special, but they were humble enough to believe this thing could get much, much better.
Being in India reminds one of what life in a construction zone is like.
It is loud. It is messy. And at times it can be very inconvenient.
But life in a construction zone also reminds you that the world is changing. And if you find the courage to join in the construction yourself, you may discover a growing sense of hope.
It may not look like much now, but what will stand here tomorrow will be better than what stands here today.
p style=”margin:0;” class=”MsoNormal”>
CFCA’s work in India includes some exciting programs to make small loans to the mothers of sponsored children so that they can start or expand small businesses. Two CFCA project coordinators from Latin America are here to learn about these programs to see how they might be successfully adapted to their home countries.
The two project coordinators are Eufronia Taquichiri from CFCA’s project in Cochabamba, Bolivia and Manuel Pineda from CFCA’s project in Santa Barbara, Honduras.Neither of them speaks English, so I am here to help with translation.
p style=”margin:0;” class=”MsoNormal”>Most CFCA project staff members in India speak English, but many of the parents of sponsored children do not.
We are interviewing mothers of sponsored children who participate in these programs, so we are frequently confronted with the challenge of double translation. Eufronia and Manuel ask a question; I translate their question into English; and a local CFCA staff member translates the question from English to Tamil or Telegu (the local languages where in the regions of India we are visiting).
The mother’s response goes the same way. Tamil or Telegu translated to English, and English translated to Spanish.
It’s a slow process, and it takes a lot of patience on all sides.
We laugh at ourselves a lot, and that helps.
p style=”margin:0;” class=”MsoNormal”>Manuel and Eufronia are here to learn, so they ask questions all day long (and usually far into the night).
It has been very satisfying to see how a shared sense of purpose can overcome two language barriers.
The sponsored mothers say they welcome Manuel and Eufronia as a fellow brother and sister in the global CFCA family. Manuel and Eufronia say that they have never been on a training trip that felt so much like a family reunion.
We’ll be here a few more days, the distance from our spouses and children made easier by the feeling that we are part of a family that is experiencing the adventure of teaching and learning from each other.
By Dan Pearson, CFCA International Project Director
Most people don’t realize that the people who work at CFCA don’t just work here. Most of us are sponsors, too. We’re kind of like that hair replacement guy on TV. We see the work of CFCA from the inside, but we also have many of the same emotional experiences that any other sponsor has. We experience excitement, wonder, guilt, peace, anger, joy and sadness as we get to know a child from another part of the world. Like any other sponsor, our sponsored friends teach us how different our living conditions are from theirs, and they teach us how similar we truly are.
My family sponsors a girl from India. Her name is Bindu. She’s 7, and her brother is 5. My kids talk about Bindu all the time. They consider her a friend. We all do. Last night we received a Christmas card from Bindu. In the card she told us that her father passed away recently. He died from a fever. Our family has traveled to a lot of countries over the years. We know people die needlessly from preventable illnesses. We have seen people suffering from illnesses that are easily treated in our community. We have tried to help. But none of that really changed the way we felt after reading Bindu’s card. This was not an abstract person who died. It was Bindu’s dad. The news of his death didn’t pass over us as easily as the news of hundreds of deaths tends to pass over us each day when we read the newspaper. Our lives were linked to his, however tentatively. We know who he was, and we know he will be missed.
So today I’m feeling much more like a CFCA sponsor than a CFCA staff member. I’m working in the office on projects for all of the sponsored children, but mostly I’m thinking about Bindu. I’m thinking about her mother and brother and wondering how they are doing. Wondering how they will get by now. I am feeling again in a personal way some of the things we talk about each day at CFCA. Child sponsorship isn’t about making yourself feel better or rescuing a child. It is about learning to see what is real again. It is about linking your life to the life of someone who is struggling to make their way in this world. It is about recognizing the dignity of that one person and choosing to stand with her. Because she matters. And so does her dad.