Category: South America

Jun 5 2009

Bob’s notes – special report, part 1

Mission awareness trip
Guatemala, May 16-23, 2009
Colombia, May 24-June 1, 2009
Part 1

Guatemala today
While the sponsors were enjoying a beautiful day in San Lucas Toliman with their sponsored children and aging, on May 18, 2009, an American Oblate priest was killed, and an African Oblate wounded during a highway robbery near Playa Grande, Ixcan, Guatemala. Apparently the assailants wanted the van carrying the missionaries to a regional meeting of their order, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI). Bullets flew, leaving Father Lorenzo Rosebaugh, 74, dead, and Congolese Father Jean Claude wounded. In the confusion, assailants fled without the vehicle. Father Lorenzo had a long history of taking risks to aid the poor and marginalized. All of us here are deeply saddened by this tragedy.

Spontaneity and laughter
In spite of several alarming events, the sponsors on this trip to Guatemala encountered spontaneity and a great sense of humor among the people they met. The sponsors see and appreciate the need for the presence of CFCA in Guatemala, especially when they learn of the crude reality of a divided society.

On the final morning in San Lucas, Father John Goggin kindly celebrated the Eucharist. We remembered Father Lorenzo in a special way. In his homily, Father John stated, “The world can change, when people learn to walk with the poor.”

Visiting Colombia
We had one sponsored girl and one sponsored aging person who traveled overnight (Cali-Medellin) with staff member Diana to see their sponsors in Medellin. The mother of the sponsored girl, Karen, speaks with such gratitude for the program. Karenís father was shot and killed when she was 5. Magnolia, the mother, states that thieves took his life over a motor scooter and a pair of tennis shoes.

City of the flowers
Medellin still impresses me as a very beautiful and cultural city. Coordinator Transito Hernandez informed us that there are 23 universities here. We have also been learning that Medellin now has more than 3 million people and faces serious human challenges. Only 46 percent of school-aged children are enrolled in school. After 18, the number drops to 30 percent. Those not in school are vulnerable to the many dangers of the streets. At CFCA, we are blessed with a fine central coordinating team – Transito, Martha, Monica, Luz Angela, Erika.
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May 21 2009

Bob’s notes ó Visit to Venezuela

Mission awareness trip to Venezuela
May 9-16, 2009

Welcome
We can be very proud of the CFCA families and of the staff. When I see how much the families are anxious to see us, to give us a hug, to ask for a blessing for their children, to so generously share with us the fruits of their hard work, I am reminded of the community of the early Christians in the Acts of the Apostles.

Motherís Day in Venezuela
Sunday morning found us at breakfast at the corner panaderia (bakery) in the town of Catia La Mar. CFCA-Venezuela Project Coordinator Sunilde Perez and staff member Yanin Castillo shepherded us well, and made sure we had a chance to get to know the members of our group.

Isabel Alvarez gave her customary fine introduction to Venezuela. Isa speaks with the passion of a well-educated yet ìstill poor Venezuelanîóher auto-description. She speaks of the pros and cons of the current government. One of the challenges she highlights is the strong political and social division within the country.

About the same time Isabel was speaking to our group, President Hugo Chavez made two statements on his weekly TV broadcast. The first is a warning to opposing TV stations and media who ìincite people to war.î They are in danger of being closed down and their broadcast license revoked. The second warning is to certain large land holders in the sugar cane area. He believes that they acquired titles to their land illegally. Therefore, these properties may be subject to nationalization. I cannot help but think of the effects of a similar nationalization program a few years ago in Zimbabwe.
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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.

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 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 12 2009

Solidarity walk begins the new year

CFCA President Bob Hentzen and 1,000 fellow walkers celebrated his upcoming walk† from Guatemala to Chile with a solidarity walk in the community of San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala. The solidarity walk, which took place on January 23, was almost three miles long and took about two and a half hours.

Guatemalan staff members and CFCA families organized the solidarity walk as a way to kick off preparations for Bob’s walk to Chile, which is set to begin Dec. 29, 2009. The route Bob will travel will weave through 12 countries (see below for a list) in Central and South America and is scheduled to conclude in April 2011.

During the solidarity walk, the 12 countries were represented by their national flag along the three-mile trek.

We hope you’ll enjoy this video clip of the solidarity walk.

Bob will be walking through Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela and Chile, although not necessarily in that order. The official route is still being finalized.

The purpose of the walk is to facilitate the building of community and strengthening of the bonds of solidarity among our CFCA families, sponsors and co-workers. Bob will use this walk to thank the families for the inspiring example of their daily walk, and tell them that we love them. He hopes to help counterbalance some of the isolation of poverty and offer the poor a sense of identity with the CFCA community.

“On my journeys, I find that CFCA truly walks with the poor and enables many people of good will to do the same,” Bob said.

In 1996, Bob walked more than 4,000 miles from Kansas City, Kan., to Guatemala. His upcoming walk will continue that trek.

Feb 11 2009

Sol, Solecito

Four-year-old Liseth of Bogota, Colombia, loves learning songs and rhymes. In this video, she recites a few rhymes popular in Latin America, similar to “Hey, Diddle, Diddle” in English. The translations of her rhymes are below. Read more about Liseth.

Arroz con Leche (Rice with Milk)*
Rice with milk
I want to get married
To a senorita
From the capital

Who knows how to sew
Who knows how to embroider
Who knows how to open the door
And go outside to play

With this one, yes
With this one, no
With this senorita
Iíll get married
I want to get married
I donít know with whom
Someone
With brown hair and shoes

I like milk
I like coffee
Now I like everything
About you!

Sol Solecito (Sun, Little Sun)*

Sun, little sun
Warm me a little
Today and tomorrow
All week long

Moon, little moon
Like a sleigh bell
Five little chicks
And one calf

Snail, snail
At one oíclock, the sun comes out
Out comes Pinocchio playing a drum
With a spoon and a fork

*In Spanish, these verses rhyme and, like ìHey Diddle, Diddleî, they make little sense. The rhyming is lost in the translation.
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.

Feb 3 2009

Notes from the Field #6 – Ecuador

Sarah Marquart, CFCA project specialist, talks about Maria, a sponsored aging woman in Ecuador. She received dentures from the dental program funded by CFCA. Now that her smile has been restored, she is truly a happier woman.

Feb 2 2009

A better quality of life

This week marks the beginning of National Childrenís Dental Health Month, sponsored by the American Dental Association. While this month serves to raise awareness in the U.S. about good oral health in children, it also presents an opportunity to learn about dental health benefits in developing countries.

This week on the blog, youíll read about sponsored members in Kenya, Ecuador, El Salvador and Bolivia who are enjoying a better quality of life thanks to the dental care provided through sponsorship.

Enjoy!