Category: South America

Dec 31 2008

Ringing in the New Year in the CFCA community

By the CFCA Prayer Team

As we give thanks for the old year and look with anticipation to the new one, let us walk in solidarity with our sisters and brothers around the world throughout the day. We have listed below the time it will be here in the United States when the New Year arrives at each of our projects. We encourage you to say a quick prayer for each of the projects as your day progresses.

Philippines8:00 a.m.9:00 a.m.10:00 a.m.11:00 a.m.
India and Sri Lanka10:30 a.m.11:30 a.m.12:30 p.m.1:30 p.m.
Tanzania, Uganda,
Madagascar, Kenya
1:00 p.m.2:00 p.m.3:00 p.m.4:00 p.m.
Nigeria3:00 p.m.4:00 p.m.5:00 p.m.6:00 p.m.
Liberia4:00 p.m.5:00 p.m.6:00 p.m.7:00 p.m.
Brazil6:00 p.m.7:00 p.m.8:00 p.m.9:00 p.m.
Chile7:00 p.m.8:00 p.m.9:00 p.m.10:00 p.m.
Bolivia, Dominican Republic8:00 p.m.9:00 p.m.10:00 p.m.11:00 p.m.
Venezuela8:30 p.m.9:30 p.m.10:30 p.m.11:30 p.m.
Colombia, Ecuador,
Haiti, Jamaica, Peru
9:00 p.m.10:00 p.m.11:00 p.m.12:00 a.m.
Costa Rica, El Salvador,
Guatemala, Honduras,
Mexico, Nicaragua
10:00 p.m.11:00 p.m.12:00 a.m.
1:00 a.m.

Please pray:

Gracious God, I pray for my sisters and brothers in ______. May the New Year bring them hope, joy and peace.

And from all of us at CFCA, we pray the New Year also brings you hope, joy and peace!

Receive CFCA’s weekly Prayer Partners e-mail.

Nov 21 2008

A prayer for peaceful elections in Venezuela

The Nov. 23 election in Venezuela to choose hundreds of regional and local officials is an important one. Since 1999, the country has been in a tug-of-war between the governmentís attempt to implement sweeping social programs and the oppositionís resistance to those reforms.

I visited Venezuela on a mission awareness trip last May. Most Americans would be hard-pressed to recite any facts about the country aside from knowing its president, Hugo Chavez.

Crime is on the rise

Venezuela has the highest minimum wage in Latin America ($370 a month), relatively stable unemployment and gasoline that costs 15 to 20 cents a gallon. But Venezuelans face many challengesórising inflation and escalating crime, to name two.

ìChildren bring guns and knives to school,î said Isabel Alvarez, a former project coordinator for CFCAís Barquisimeto project. ìPeople will kill for a Razor phone.î

Sponsorship helps provide security


ìRobbers will take blenders, toasters, anything they can find, and sell them for money,î said Teresa, a CFCA mother whose 19-year-old daughter, Leidy, has been sponsored for 18 years.

I chatted with Leidy and Teresa in their modest, stucco home with cement floors situated in a high-crime neighborhood of Barquisimeto. Over the years, sponsorship has paid for improvements, such as a heavy, metal door, to secure the home from intruders.


Sponsorship supplements the income Teresa earns working six days a week at a pediatric hospital. She is scheduled to work every other month so the hospital wonít have to pay her health benefits, she said. Her husband fixes cars.

Leidy studies information technology and wants to work as a programmer after she graduates next year. She is so petite, I mistook her for a young girl of about 13 rather than a young lady of 19, but she is poised and mature.

This hard-working family exemplifies many of the families I met during my trip. I pray for peaceful and fair elections Nov. 23, and that Teresa, Leidy and all Venezuelans may work together for safe communities and a prosperous future.

Nov 12 2008

Bob’s report: Visit to Chile

Mission awareness trip
Oct. 18 ñ 25, 2008

Together with Guatemala and Honduras, Chile is one of our pioneer projects. CFCA has been involved in Chile since 1982. The project center, located in Valparaiso, serves 4,500 children and 641 aging through six surrounding subprojects. The countryís name seems to have come from the Aymara word Chilli, which means ìwhere the earth ends.î†

A program rich in benefits

For sponsored children and their families, sponsorship benefits include education, health, help with housing, a loan program and a variety of livelihood training courses such as sewing, knitting and hairdressing.

Children who have trouble in the regular school system receive special attention, tutoring and care. The CFCA sponsorship program offers after-school care and learning opportunities.

Mothers who complete the beauty shop course are able to set up their own salon at home. Mothers who complete the sewing courses can apply for a no-interest loan to purchase a sewing machine and begin their own business. The CFCA center also offers domestic violence counseling and support.

The 641 sponsored elderly in Project Valparaiso can participate in literacy training, Tai-chi, creative theatre, folk dancing, guitar classes, choir and a variety of livelihood projects. They also receive services which improve their quality of life, such as podiatry care, hairdressing and dental prosthesis. CFCA also provides the elderly with breakfast, lunch and a snack in the afternoon before they head home. Many of the sponsors on the mission awareness trip purchased things made by the mothers and the elderly.††
Read more

Oct 8 2008

Bobís report: Visit to Bolivia

Mission awareness trip
Aug. 30 ñ Sept. 7, 2008

Boliviaórich yet poor
Rich as it is in minerals, natural gas and oil, Bolivia is regarded as one of South Americaís poorest countries. Subsistence describes the struggle of many of our sponsored families. They are very much on the low end when it comes to the distribution of resources and opportunity. Yet they are very much on the high side on helping us to grow in awareness and grace. Characteristic of many CFCA projects in Bolivia is a guitar-toting nun and a chorus of highland children, smiles burned into their faces by the mountain wind and sun.†

ìThe economic situation is out of control in our country Ö many times we are unable to offer the families what we have planned in our yearly work plan. This is the result of the urgent need for food. Our main products now cost too much.î Tamara Quinteros, CFCA Coordinator, Santa Cruz.

Memorable quotes
“My sponsor resides in the U.S. but she lives in my heart.” CFCA Cochabamba Scholar

ìAt CFCA I met God.î Cirilo, Cochabama

ìI have two mothers Ö the one who wakes me up each morning and sings to me Ö and my second mother (Mary Jones) who is my sponsor. Even though far away, she loves me and is concerned for me.î Adriana, subproject Barrio Lindo, Santa Cruz

ìYesterday was my sponsorís birthday, and even though he lives far away, we celebrated his birthday in our home in Barrio Lindo, Santa Cruz, Bolivia.îóMother of sponsored child

Fruits of sponsorship

At the Comedor Cristo Mensajero, children, scholars and aging receive nutrition, school supplies, shoes and uniforms. We visited mother Genovava who raised eight children on her own after her husband died. Sponsored sons, Ismael, 19, and Alex, 18, both are about to finish college prep. The family has built a nice home with help from CFCA and two grown children working in Spain.††
Read more

Sep 4 2008

Couple sees reward in sponsoring older youth

It was Enriqueís interest in electrical workóhe likes to fix electrical fans as a hobbyóthat spurred Annette and Roger Mackenroth of Maplewood, Minn., to sponsor him in 2003. Roger is a retired electrician for the railroad.

ìI have three sons and intended to sponsor a younger girl,î said Roger. ìBut Enrique just jumped out at me.î

Enrique, 16, lives with his mother and brother in eastern Venezuela. His father is gone for long periods of time working on a boat.

Roger and Annette learned through Enriqueís letters that he was having trouble in school and had to repeat classes.

Annette (far left) and Roger (far right) Mackenroth met with their sponsored friend, Enrique, and his mother in Venezuela.

Annette (far left) and Roger (far right) Mackenroth met with their sponsored friend, Enrique, and his mother in Venezuela.

The couple met Enrique on a mission awareness trip to Venezuela in 2007. Enrique and his mother rode a bus for 15 hours to reach Barquisimeto in order to see the Mackenroths.

ìWe told Enrique he had to learn English for business and computers,î said Roger. ìAfter the trip, we didnít hear from him for months. Eventually, we learned he was busy studying and ended up third in his class. Now, heís at the top.î

The couple is convinced their encouragement helped motivate Enrique to improve in school.

ìHis mother said she would pray for us every day of her life,î Annette said. ìI have no doubt that she does.î

The Mackenroths recently began sponsoring 18-year-old Germarys, also from Venezuela. She graduated from high school in 2007 and then lost her sponsorship. Annette hopes by sponsoring her, Germarys will be able to attain her dream of becoming a lawyer.

Jul 31 2008

Reading their way out of poverty

In El Trompillo, Venezuela, a barrio north of Barquisimeto, a small group of young children has escaped the hot, dusty streets of their neighborhood to sit on the cool, cement floor of the CFCA office and hear Maria read a story about a goblin, ìEl Duende.î

Maria reads slowly and stops periodically to show them the pictures. The story is short. She finishes in several minutes. When she is through, she asks the children to use their imaginations and write their own story about a goblin.

Maria, 17, a CFCA scholarship student and sponsored member, helps out with the El Trompillo reading group every Saturday morning. The group was initiated by another scholarship student, Rodrigo, 19, to help the young students improve their reading skills. The reading group fulfills Rodrigoís and Mariaís service requirement for their scholarships, and it provides a valuable benefit to the community.

ìI think itís important for students to develop their reading skills,î Rodrigo said. ìIf you can read well, then you will succeed in school.î

One young student, Yerlianny, 9, proudly displays the story she has written along with a drawing of her goblin.

Here is Yerliannyís story:


The Goblin (El Duende)

ìThe goblin lives in a house. He is very loving. It is a marvelous house. He likes to play kickball. He won a large medal and a large beautiful cup. The medal is silver and the cup is silver and gold.î

Read more about the El Trompillo reading group and the scholarship students of Venezuela in our August Update newsletter.

Jul 2 2008

Bob’s report: Visit to Colombia

Mission Awareness Trip
June 2008

This is our fourth Mission Awareness Trip to this country. Medellin is hosting for the next few days a meeting of the OASóOrganization of American States. Security forces abound.

In Colombia since 1983
Ten years later (1993), Jerry Tolle and Transito Hernandez traveled from Cartagena to Medellin to inaugurate Project Antioquia. As of May 2008, the CFCA presence in the five projects in Colombia looks like this:
Children sponsored†††† † 16,160
Aging sponsored†††††††††††† 1,668
Vocations sponsored†††††††† 168
Waiting list-Colombia†††† 1,837

Day One in Medellin
Coordinator Transito Hernandez gave us a very fine overview of Project Antioquia. The sponsored children offer the world smiles, beauty and grace in the harshness of the high neighbors of Medellin.

This project has shown us good solid programs for sponsored children, but also impressive are the programs for mothers:
1. Alphabetization, elementary and junior high equivalencyófacilitated mainly by scholars and volunteers.
2. Good training by professional and dedicated teachers in livelihood projects, with over 90 percent of sponsored mothers participating. These mothers currently produce school uniforms for 32 schools.
3. Beauty shops, bakeries for all kinds of breads and cakes–also for schools and special events.
4. Dance program for mothers.†

Day Two
We visited subproject PN in La Pintada, surrounded by mountains 48 miles south of Medellin in the valley of the Cauca River. The Cauca is at flood stage as I write and 41 of our 237 sponsored families have been forced to leave their homes. Sisters serving here speak of the reality of this town of 10,000 including child labor, child abuse, pregnancies in the early teens, lack of employment opportunity, very little environmental planning and intra-family violence.

The hope quotient
The CFCA presence in La Pintada has grown little by little, with the sponsorship of boys and girls who before hung out on the street without much incentive to go to school. We now have 237 children in the program attending school and six scholars in higher education. The elderly also have a good program. Because of the CFCA sponsorship program in La Pintada, 140 elderly and 225 children enjoy a nutritious lunch every school day.

Read more

Jun 11 2008

Latin American coordinators reflect on the future of the poor

CFCA has always been guided by its humble spirituality and vision. We have always said, “Lord, give us a spirit of always beginning.” Always thinking, always creating, and always finding ways to reach out to those in need of help and to those who need to help.

I was blessed to recently participate in a CFCA Latin American Encuentro (gathering) in Guatemala, with the Coordinators of CFCA projects in Latin America: Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Brazil and Chile.

Our hope was to unite creativity, spirit, faith and hard work, to look towards the future of our sponsored families and to offer our sponsors a transparent opportunity to help one child not to have more, but to be more. During three days, we learned about many different programs functioning in CFCA Projects all across Latin America. What an amazing experience to see the extraordinary amount of talent in our CFCA staffers, offering real options of hope for the sponsored and their families.

The current economic situation of the world is making life harder—further limiting the poor as they try to reach a better future. Many of our families are suffering deep and brutal situations due to the lack of jobs, health and opportunities; they find it more difficult to survive every day. The reality is so difficult that many poor people are trying to find ways for their children to work to contribute to the family income.

The grassroots movement of CFCA is based on offering our sponsored families options for them to reach their very own dreams, starting from what they know and building from there.

CFCA creates livelihood programs… Projects in Honduras have sponsored families growing pigs, selling them and making extra income from it. Our Guatemalan families are being blessed by producing and selling products such as pants, backpacks, nutri-cereals, etc. Many others are growing chickens, goats and planting corn. In Costa Rica, families are producing cloth dolls, some mothers have beauty shops and others are marketing local homemade jelly.

These families are not only growing economically, as they market their products, but they are also becoming experts in these fields, acquiring a higher self-confidence as they are capable to provide for their families.

Just as Jesus sent the disciples to spread the good news of His kingdom, all of us, CFCA servers, were sent to promote the dignity of the poor and to offer hope by building, with the support of our sponsors and our sponsored families, options for needy people. To create an environment where they can be builders of their own future, asking them what they want to accomplish, learning from their human potential and developing programs from there.

In the hurting world we live in, we are called to open our hearts and vision and tell all those who are suffering that it is worth it to continue, it is worth it to keep fighting, it is worth it to keep on believing — just like a song in Spanish says, “I have faith that everything will change, that the love will always triumph, I have faith that the light of hope will never die.”

Jun 3 2008

Bob’s report: Visit to Venezuela

Mission Awareness Trip
May 17-24, 2008

This May 2008, we are 21 CFCA pilgrims in Venezuela, 18 sponsors plus Sheila Myers (Communications Department, CFCA-Kansas), Cristina and myself, Bob Hentzen. Three of our trip participants are Catholic priests. They have expressed great enthusiasm about the work and the future of CFCA.

The Venezuelan staff and sponsored families tell us how much they have been looking forward to having the sponsors here. The CFCA program in Venezuela can boast of a very loving and professional staff. They model the community they proclaim. Sponsored families are responding to this example. The CFCA communities serve as a leaven, a beacon of hope and a sign of Godís love.

CFCA roots in Venezuela
My brother Bud and I made our way by land from Colombia to Venezuela in 1983 to visit with Father Jerry Beat and Father Angel Riba. Since that time, the CFCA program in Venezuela has grown to 5536 children, 665 elderly and 22 vocation sponsorships. Almost 800 children and aging from Venezuela are on our waiting list for sponsorship.

CFCA Venezuela represented in Japan

David and Sunilde (center) receive congratulations and
“godspeed” from sponsors Kay (l) and Esther (r).

Project Coordinator Sunilde Perez, who has been with CFCA for 11 years, and sponsored child David, 13, will represent Venezuela and CFCA at an interfaith conference in Japan sponsored by the Arigatou Foundation. The conference will address poverty and ecological questions relating to children and intra-family violence.

CFCA Venezuela work groups
The Barquisimeto project has implemented nine commissions with representatives from all subprojects to oversee the delivery of benefits and services to sponsored members. These groups are born from the expressed felt needs of our sponsored families. They cover the following themes: Education, Nutrition, Health, Correspondence, Finance, Fundraising, Recreation, Sports and Culture. The commissions are a grassroots organization which includes the mothers. I am so very pleased and impressed that mothers of sponsored children are confidently giving these presentations to sponsors on the trip.

Scholars give back to community

(L to R) CFCA scholars Eliani, Joana, Adrian and Antonio

We heard a presentation by four CFCA scholars. Eliani organizes scholars. Joana helps keep the children’s files in order. She is in the third semester of nursing school. Antonio supervises the dining room for 259 sponsored in the Maria Auxiliadora school(subproject MA). “They receive a good lunch every school day and medical care,” Antonio said. “I am also supporting my mother and my sister, a special child. This is the hand of God.”

Scholar Adrian Mendoza works with the children and youth in Ciudad de los Muchachos, a foster home for girls and boys. “We want to give our youth tools to continue,” he said. Adrian grew up in Ciudad de los Muchachos (subproject M) and was sponsored through CFCA from age 7 to 17. He then became a CFCA scholar and has now graduated from college with a major in business administration. Adrian will continue his studies in psychology. He still lives and works at Ciudad de los Muchachos. He communicates very well and shows tremendous poise and rapport with the children and staff.

Outing with sponsored children
On Wednesday, we enjoyed an outing in Humucaro Alto (subproject HRA), about two hours from Barquisimeto, with children who are sponsored by members of this group. The entire project was on hand to welcome and to celebrate the visit of the sponsors. As we passed through small towns, parents, staff members and children were out on the highway awaiting our caravan and waving us on. They really do have a strong sense of belonging. How encouraging is this clear identification with CFCA.

This day was a real CFCA fiesta. The age span was from 99 years to newborn. Mothers, dads, youth, children and staff were involved in the many activities: Holy Mass with special commemoration of the fiftieth wedding anniversary of Lois and Walt Silvernale, cooking and organizing a nice hot lunch for hundreds, a theatrical production on the history of CFCA, folk dances and songs and visits to families.

May our loving God continue to bless us all in the great adventure of CFCA.

Bob Hentzen
On the road in Venezuela