Tag: Africa

Aug 11 2009

August isn’t back-to-school month for everyone

As U.S. students prepare for the onset of school, students in other countries have already taken mid-terms.

That’s right. For students in many countries where CFCA works, school does not start in August or September.

The school year in Central America started in January or February. Those lucky children are only two months away from the end of school. Schoolchildren in India and the Philippines are already into their third month of the school year. And students in Kenyaówell, they follow the British system and attend school all year, with long breaks at the end of each quarter.

Find the school calendar for your friend on the graph below.

School calendar

Related links
Time for school

Jul 2 2009

Celebrating freedom

On the Fourth of July, Americans will gather to celebrate Independence Day with fireworks, parades and picnics. Although the United States and the countries CFCA partners with do not celebrate independence on the same date, we share many customs and events.

In Central America, most countries celebrate their independence on Sept. 15 with parades and music. The running of the Central American Freedom Torch from Guatemala to Costa Rica, taking a total of 14 days, reenacts the news of their independence spreading through Central America.

South Americans celebrate with large celebrations, flying flags, parades, fireworks and feasting. In India, all cities have Flag Hoisting Ceremonies run by politicians and other officials. Indian schoolchildren gather to sing songs and watch the hoisting of the flag.

Under colonization, Haitians were forbidden to eat soup, a meal reserved for the upper classes. Now on Independence Day, it is traditional to eat soup to demonstrate the equality of all citizens.

People of the Philippines celebrate their independence with ceremonies, historic exhibitions and memorial events. Festivities begin with a flag-raising ceremony and parade in the historic city of Cavite, where Filipinos first proclaimed their independence.

We would like to encourage you to research how the country your friend lives in celebrates its independence. And from all of us at CFCA, we wish you a safe and wonderful Independence Day.

The Independence Days of the countries CFCA partners with are listed below.

Jan. 1
Haiti
Feb. 27
Dominican Republic
May 24
Ecuador
June 12
Philippines
June 26
Madagascar
July 5
Venezuela
July 20
Colombia
July 26
Liberia
July 28
Peru
Aug. 6
Bolivia
Aug. 15
India
Sept. 7
Brazil
Sept. 15
Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua
Sept. 16
Mexico
Sept. 18
Chile
Oct. 9
Uganda
Dec. 9
Tanzania
Dec. 12
Kenya

 

Updated July 1, 2011

May 1 2009

Breaking rocks for a living

Today, much of the international community is celebrating Labor Day, also known as International Workers’ Day. Labor Day recognizes the social and economic achievements of laborers. Though much has been accomplished for workers, including safer working conditions and representation through labor unions, workers like those in Tanzanian rock quarries still labor under very difficult conditions.

Mary Dawn Reavey, the Dar es Salaam project coordinator in Tanzania, gives us a look at the working conditions of people who break rocks for a living.

Story by Reavey, and video by Freddie (sponsored) and Emma (formerly sponsored).

Freddie, Emma and I interviewed and filmed some guardians of sponsored children who break rocks for a living. Because many parents die from AIDS, their children are often raised by guardians such as uncles, aunts, brothers or sisters.

At a quarry outside Dar es Salaam, workers break rocks near the road to be more accessible to potential customers. To protect them from the blazing sun, the workers construct a covering with sticks and old flour sacks.

They pound rocks for at least eight hours a day, starting around 6 a.m. to avoid the intense midday heat. CFCA is helping many of these guardians start small businesses, allowing them to significantly reduce the time they spend breaking stones, or stop altogether.
Read more

Mar 13 2009

Letters + watercolors = land for a family

By Marcia Willman, CFCA director of child services

Kinya standing next to her sheepAt 11, Kinya knows how important an education is for her future because she is growing up where there often isn’t one.

One day I received a letter from Kinya that changed both of our lives. She wrote, ìI’m now at a new school Ö This is because we moved after eviction. I’m still working hard.î I knew that Kinya, her mom and two older brothers were squatters on government land at the foot of Mount Kenya, but this word, eviction, caught me by surprise.

It is obvious that Kinya is loved deeply by her mom. Kinya is a joyous child. She is a good story teller. She shares her life with me in every letter that she writes. Her stories bring us together and build the bonds of our friendship. So when I heard that word eviction, I knew I had to help her.

I chose to sponsor Kinya because she is being raised by a single mother who struggles to put food on the table and pay rent because she can find occasional odd jobs. I know the challenges of being a single mom because I am one, too. Thus, I feel compelled to help another woman and mother in less fortunate circumstances provide the most basic needs of food and shelter for her family.

I have been painting with watercolors for years. I never considered marketing or selling my art until trying to figure out a way to help Kinya. I finally realized that I could use my God-given talent to help my friend.

For more than two years I have been on a mission to sell my paintings. Along the way, I won the right to call myself an artist. I send the proceeds from my art sales to help Kinya’s family. Last April Kinyaís family was able to purchase half an acre of fertile, productive farm land.

Ann radiates happiness.Kinya’s mom, Ann, immediately planted row after row of corn and potatoes to take advantage of the pending rainy season. Ann proved to be hard-working and industrious. Along the way, she proudly rose to the role of provider. While weeding with a hoe in hand, Ann beams in the photos I received from Project Timau. Annís smile demonstrates her strength to overcome adversity when given the opportunity. It shows she believes her family has a future.

So, Kinya’s house was built. Ann’s first crops were harvested. And, Kinya’s family bought two sheep because they were able to feed themselves and generate enough income by laboring on their own land. Along the way, Kinya found comfort and a safe haven from eviction. ìAt last I’m enjoying rains in a nice house that doesn’t leak. Thanks a lot for making my life happy Ö You are part of my life, I cherish your care.î Once again, I received another letter from Kinya that changed my life. It feels wonderful to be an artist, to help another single mom and to be cherished by Kinya!

You can see Marcia’s paintings by visiting her Web site, watercolorsforacause.org.

Jan 19 2009

Creating King’s beloved community

By Paco Wertin, CFCA chief executive officer

No individual can live alone, no nation can live alone, and anyone who feels that he can live alone is sleeping through a revolution. The world in which we live is geographically one. The challenge that we face today is to make it one in terms of brotherhood.

ñ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1968

I see and feel a kinship with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and CFCA as we celebrate his birthday.

He believed in the beloved community, in which all people can share the wealth of the earth and that obstacles like poverty, racism and war can be overcome if we learn to resolve conflict non-violently, together.

I find an echo of that in the words of CFCA president and co-founder, Bob Hentzen:

“Building community is essentially an effort to reestablish the basic freedom of God’s humble people. In striving to build a community in the style of Jesus, we can expect opposition and persecution. We want to promote a new view of globalization, one in which we put into international motion a true sharing of the resources of God’s creation. We want the resources and goods of this earth to favor unity, not separation.”

This community is based on new relationships forged between those who have and those who do not have what is necessary to live. The first step is overcoming obstacles. Obstacles can be lack of nutrition, lack of access to health care, education and skills development, and lack of community and hope. The next step is having choices. Having choices means freedom. So free from the obstacles, we can be free for creating community.

CFCA communities in India and Africa express their desire to overcome all that is in the way of forging these new relationships by singing “We Shall Overcome” at their gatherings.

We join them in that song and deep in our heart, in kinship with Dr. King, we pray:

With you, O God, we are a liberating force of love in our world today.

Dec 24 2008

Christmas in Madagascar

The following entry was contributed by the Antsirabe, Madagascar, project. Unbound serves more than 700 children, youth and the aging in Madagascar.

madagascar_christmas

Once, a little child in the countryside was asked, “What is Christmas all about?” The answer was, “Christmas is when we receive little rice cakes in church.”

The child remembered something important about Christmas: the gift of a couple of rice cakes in church. And this happens only on Christmas.

Christmastime is very much a time when families get together, visit each other or go to church together. Food will usually be better than the everyday meal. If they can afford it, parents will buy and prepare chicken or pork as a special meal.

Whoever can will dress in a smart, perhaps even new outfit. Since December is one of the hottest months of the year, women and girls will wear very pretty summer dresses in church.

As in most countries, people like to give each other Christmas gifts. Within families, parents like to give new clothes to their children. Poorer families, however, may not be able to afford buying gifts, so they make do without. Christmas is a time of doing good for others as well.

For many people in Madagascar, Christmas is celebrated over a long period of time, spreading out over several months. It will usually start in the month of December with typical Christmas songs being sung in most churches.

Choirs and youth groups will meet on certain afternoons for practicing Christmas songs, so they will be able to perform well on Christmas Day or at another time. There are translated Western Christmas songs, but also many songs Malagasy people have written.

Many people write their own poems which will be presented at Christmas, on a special afternoon or on an additional Sunday for their specific group. Thus it is possible that each group in a church will celebrate Christmas on a given Sunday, presenting songs, sketches or Bible verses they learned by heart.

You can easily have Christmas celebrations all the way from December through to March. One church could easily have 20 Christmas celebration services, and everyone is welcome to come and enjoy.

Another custom is the walking around the Christmas tree. If possible, a pine tree will be erected in the front area of the church so that all the people can see it. Colorful ribbons or other decorations, small electric lights and cut-out pictures will give the tree a beautiful appearance.

On Christmas Day, each church group (women, men, choir, young people, Sunday school or children) will come to the front, singing and walking around the tree. Never mind that it takes a very long time. All the other people in church enjoy the songs, the live presentations of the others.

For those who need to stretch their legs or to buy some snacks outside, it is common practice to do so. Therefore, a Christmas service can last the whole morning, up to four or five hours.

Then in the afternoon, more singing and group presentations will continue. It is a local church event where everybody tries to attend or even take part.

Dec 23 2008

A Christmas of coming together

The following blog entry was written by Rev. Kelly Demo, an Episcopal priest who preaches for CFCA. From 1990 to 1991, she served as a volunteer for International Christian Youth Exchange in Sierra Leone, West Africa.

Just outside my little house there was a large boulder upon which both lizards and I enjoyed lying. One evening very close to Christmas, I was sprawled out on my rock enjoying conversation with a sweet 8-year-old Sierra Leonean named John. We talked many nights about a great many things, and that night he asked me about Christmas in America. I had been missing my family, so I waxed on about my memories of childhood Christmases at my grandparentsí home, of going to midnight Mass, and of Santa Claus.

We lay silently for several minutes looking up at the stars, and finally John said, ìSanta Claus doesnít come to Africa.î
†I looked at him and was overcome with sadness. He fully believed in Santa Claus. He had heard about this guy who travels around the world bringing gifts to good boys and girls. However, neither John nor any of his friends had ever received anything from Santa. He judged himself and his Christmas by Western standards, and he simply could not measure up.

The irony in this is that most Westerners long for the exact kind of Christmas that John and so many others in developing countries have. Christmas in America is generally a time of frenzied activity, of spending money and feeling tired, guilty, lonely, anxious. Then there are the precious moments of joy, of connection and Christís peace that come and go too soon and leave us yearning for more.†

Just yesterday, three friends and I tried to meet for a cup of coffee before Christmas. We all love each other dearly and draw strength and encouragement from one another. But one had to meet her mom to go shopping for her kids, one had to meet with a contractor who is remodeling her home, one rushed off to work, and I had my own errands. Nothing is more important than our relationships, yet the tyranny of the urgent always supersedes that which is important.

Imagine instead, Christmas where many families come together to cook and eat and sing and play and celebrate. There is no pressure or expectation to buy gifts. There is nothing more urgent in the world than to sit down with your elders and listen to stories. There is no errand that is more important than visiting a friend you have not seen in a long time. And yes, Virginia, a place where there is no Santa Claus. That is the kind of Christmas that my little friend John would have along with billions of others around the world.

That is one of the many gifts the poor have to offer us. They stand as a witness to our Christmases past, the past that we look to with nostalgia. A Christmas when Jesus is truly at the center of the celebration as we welcome him, a homeless child, into our hearts and into our world.

We here at CFCA wish you a peace-filled Christmas. Please keep the children, elderly and their families whom we serve in your prayers, just as you remain in ours.

Oct 6 2008

Blog for CFCA and join the discussion on global poverty

Join the discussion about global poverty on Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2008.

We know that people in the blogosphere can learn so much through your CFCA sponsor experiences: what it’s like to join with families living in poverty; telling about how your own view of poverty has changed through your sponsorship, and how poverty now has a personal meaning for you.

Blog Action Day ’08 gives bloggers around the world a chance to focus one day Wednesday, Oct. 15 – on one topic – poverty.

Blog Action Day ’08 gives bloggers around the world a chance to focus one day  Wednesday, Oct. 15 – on one topic – poverty.

Here’s how the Blog Action Day Web site describes it:
“Blog Action Day is an annual nonprofit event that aims to unite the world’s bloggers, podcasters and videocasters, to post about the same issue on the same day. Our aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion.”

To be a part of the event:

  1. Register your blog on the blog action day site (blogactionday.com) between now and Oct. 14.
  2. Start preparing your blog message based on your experiences as a CFCA sponsor.
    (e-mail us if you have questions)
  3. Post your blog entry on Oct. 15.


At the end of your blog post, please feel free to include the following description of CFCA:

CFCA is a Kansas City-based international movement serving people living in poverty in 25 developing countries. We help families put food on the table, send their children to school and have a decent place to live so that together we can end the cycle of poverty. Founded by lay Catholics acting on the call to serve the poor, CFCA serves people of all faiths. To learn more, or to sponsor a child, visit www.cfcausa.org.

If you don’t have a blog, but would like to start one to post your message about poverty, here are a few blog sites that make it quick and easy:

Thank you for joining CFCA and sharing your personal story to help the world gain a better understanding of poverty and ways to help.

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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Aug 14 2008

Notes from the Field #1 – Kenya

Welcome to the first installment of “Notes from the field” video podcasts featuring Janet Tinsley, CFCA’s project director for the Africa Region. Janet gives an update from her visit to the Nairobi project.