Tag: benefits

Dec 3 2010

Why is my sponsored child pictured in worn clothing?

Ask Sponsor ServicesQ. My childís photo shows him with a frayed shirt and tattered shoes. Isnít clothing one of the benefits of sponsorship?

A. Yes, clothing is one of the benefits of sponsorship, and many projects provide new dress clothes for sponsored children, youth and aging members each year.

Some of the quarter million photos we process each year, however, show children in worn clothing. The reason could be as simple as the child forgot to tell his mother that tomorrow was CFCA picture day.

Most mothers want their children to be photographed in a nice outfit, even if that clothing is borrowed from a neighbor, or is the only dress clothing they own.

Keep that in mind if your child is photographed wearing an exceptionally fine outfit. It may be one of the few times of the year he or she dresses so well.

Oct 21 2010

From beneficiaries to partners: How CFCA views sponsored friends

Dan Pearson, operations/program development director for CFCA, explains how CFCA programs are moving toward greater autonomy and partnership with those being sponsored. Rather than seeing them as “beneficiaries,” we see them as “partners.”

Nonprofit organizations often divide their stakeholders neatly into two categories: donors and beneficiaries. But CFCA has always viewed things a little differently.

Dan Pearson

Dan Pearson

CFCA has always seen sponsors as more than simply donors. Sponsors are first and foremost human beings with a desire to connect with other human beings.

Part of CFCA’s mission is to give sponsors a way to grow in love through a personal connection to a child or elderly person in another part of the world. In that sense, sponsors are also beneficiaries of sponsorship because we can receive emotional and spiritual benefits as we provide encouragement and material support to a friend in another country.

Similarly, CFCA has never seen sponsored children and their families as simply beneficiaries. The word “beneficiary” implies someone who passively receives assistance from another person. But sponsored members and their families are not passive. In fact, they are some of the most active people I have met.

Sponsored children often get up early and walk long distances just to receive an education. Their parents work long days (often in jobs that are physically demanding) to provide for their childrenís basic needs. Yes, these families benefit from the program. But they are much more than beneficiaries.

Sai and his family

Sponsored child Sai, second from right, and his family in Hyderabad, India.

Part of the message in CFCA’s Hope for a Family program is that the families of sponsored children are our partners.

The mother of a child partners with a sponsor to achieve a childís goals for the future. She is a trustworthy partner because:

a) she has demonstrated her absolute commitment to her child’s future,

b) she understands her child’s unique gifts and the particular challenges her child faces, and

c) she is extremely skilled at overcoming challenges.

The proof of a motherís trustworthiness as a partner in the development of her child is in her tireless dedication. She spends nearly every waking hour dedicated to the cause of her children. Then she goes to bed, wakes up early, and starts over again.

The label “beneficiary” doesnít do justice to that kind of active dedication to a cause.

When one sponsor and one family join forces to change one child’s life, all other labels dissolve. They are simply human beings working together to make one small piece of the world a better place.

We welcome your feedback! In the comments below, please tell us how you view the “beneficiaries” vs. “partners” distinction. If you’re a sponsor, have you always viewed sponsorship as a way to partner with others? Why or why not?

Sep 3 2010

When should I send a Christmas greeting to my sponsored friend?

Ask Sponsor ServicesQ. When should I send a Christmas greeting to my sponsored friend?

A. If you would like to send your friend a Christmas greeting, we recommend sending your greeting card early because mail can be slow during the holiday season. It usually takes six to eight weeks for a letter to arrive at the project.

Although Christmas is a time for giving in the U.S., sending a gift to your friend overseas is problematic.

Packages can accrue customs fees in your friendís country, and items can be lost or stolen in the mail. Instead of a package, we encourage you to send a letter or card. Your friend will be thrilled to hear from you.

(You can also send an eLetter once you’re logged in to your online sponsorship account!)

In addition, please consider donating to the CFCA Christmas Fund. Your donation is used by your friendís project to plan culturally appropriate celebrations and provide practical and fun gifts for every child and aging member, so no one is left out. Family members often participate.

Sponsored members know that these celebrations and gifts are made possible by the sponsors. Plus, your donation benefits your friendís community because party supplies and Christmas gifts are purchased from local vendors or CFCA livelihood projects.

Mar 26 2010

Juan Antonio: The dancing man

Meet Juan Antonio, an elderly man who lives in El Salvador. This vibrant man of 83 years is sponsored through CFCA’s Hope for a Family program. Since August 2009, he has participated in a dance and gym class as part of his sponsorship benefits. Being involved in the dance program has made him feel, in his own words, “cool.”

We think Juan Antonio is cool, too. But don’t take our word for it. Watch on to meet this charming man.

Read more about the dance program.

Nov 25 2009

The joy of friendship

Editorís note: Ronald, 21, graduated from the sponsorship program in June of 2008.

RonaldIím Ronald from Hyderabad, India. I come from a family where education was always a daydream. Iím delighted to share a few memories of my life, as I was a fortunate child who has been blessed by God.

CFCA has helped me complete my education and stand on my feet. To make my dreams come true, CFCA came to my aid. Because of their valuable and timely help, my parents were able to enroll me in Mount Carmel High School. CFCA took care of all my educational needs and supported my parents.

Throughout my association with CFCA, I thought all the sponsors belonged to rich families, and helped unfortunate children with their surplus. But to my astonishment, my sponsors, John and Bobby, were an elderly couple who were not wealthy, and were no longer in touch with other family members. I was very joyful to know that they treated me as their grandson.

I remember in one of the letters John told me he had made a big board in his room where he preserved my letters, photographs and paintings, and he read them whenever he felt lonely. I was taken aback by his affection for me.

Sadly, John passed away, but Bobby continued to sponsor me. She also shared with me that after John died I was the only one with whom she could express all her feelings. Iím happy that I was able to know such adoring people.

After I received my education, I got a job with an information technology company. Today, I have everything I need: loving parents, a good education and a fine job. And the two most important people responsible for my life being so good today are my dear sponsors, John and Bobby.

Oct 19 2009

Bob’s notes – Visit to India

Mission awareness trip to India
Oct. 2-13, 2009

The drought this year and just recently the worst flooding in 100 years have caused serious problems for families such as father Narsing, mother Radhika , their 7-year-old sponsored daughter, Archana, and her 5-year-old brother, Pradeep. They plant mainly rice on a 3-acre plot. The family also cares for the grandparents. We are indeed honored to be associated with this beautiful family.

At the inauguration of the CFCA Community Centre in Balanagar Zone-Subproject JGG, we enjoyed a large fiesta. Sponsors handed out Christmas presents. Especially impactful for the sponsors were the 100 or so sponsored girls living at the Divine Word Home. Just a short time ago, they were the throwaway children, the rag pickers in the garbage dumps of Hyderabad. They not only know their sponsorís name, they also know their CFCA ID number.

After telling us her sponsorís name, Veronica said:

“Our golden age began when Mr. Prakash and Mr. Suresh visited us in August 2002. They saw our poverty and our need. Soon CFCA started to look for sponsors. This has helped us leave our rag picking. Now we are attending a prestigious English medium school. We promise you that we will remember you always in our prayers and that we will make good use of this precious chance you are giving us Ö so that we will be able to help others as you help us today.”

What itís all about
Mothers groups in India
At our project in Hyderabad, mothers of sponsored children are taking leadership roles to help their families and communities. More than 600 mothers groups and 10,000 members help manage and operate CFCA programs in Hyderabad and outlying areas. Mothers groups join with social workers to assess needs and design benefit plans. Besides giving mothers a voice in the sponsorship program, the groups help raise the status of women in their communities. Savings plans and low-cost loans to fund small business startups or meet critical family needs are also part of the groups. CFCA currently impacts the lives of more than 11,500 children, youth, aging and their families here.

Visit to Subproject CCP
We heard testimony by a young woman, Jeevan, who is a former sponsored girl and now works as a professional staff nurse. Remarkably, Jeevan herself sponsors a little boy named Malesh. Jeevan is Catholic and Malesh is Hindu. We also heard a high-energy speech by a mother who, before CFCA involvement, was so shy she could not leave her house. Now she is more confident and very active in her mothers group.

Janagam subproject
Bob with his sponsored child and her familyIn Addabata village, I was able to visit my own sponsored child, Archana, together with her mom, dad and little brother. They are a young farm family struggling first with drought and now with flooding. They traveled the 5 kilometers (3 miles) from their home to the main highway on their aging scooter.

After lunch at the major seminary, we visited the 37 aging and 56 children at the leper colony at Karunapuram. The enthusiasm of these lepers and recovering lepers is inspiringóreminds me of recently canonized St. Damien of Molokai.

Visit to CFCA Project Warangal
The Warangal project has started to form mothers groups and at present, there are 65 groups. They have monthly meetings to discuss topics like health, cleanliness, livelihood programs, developing kitchen gardens, childrenís education and community activities. Each mother deposits 50 rupees (about $1) into an account every month and CFCA matches that amount. The buildup of these funds will allow the mothers to obtain micro-credit loans from the group in the future.

Iím looking forward now to our board formation day and regular October board meeting. Following the board meeting, I will meet my wife, Cristina, in Guatemala, and we will head for the mission awareness trip in Chile. Before signing off, I want to say that I am deeply grateful to have shared parts of this India trip with Ilene and Sara from CFCAís International Department in Kansas City.

God’s blessings,

Bob Hentzen

Sep 22 2009

Seeing is believingÖand I am a believer

By Kelly Demo, CFCA preacher

I have preached on behalf of CFCA for more than a year and a half now. I knew how CFCA worked and how it changed lives and transformed entire communities. I got it.

Or, at least, I thought I did until I went on a mission awareness trip to El Salvador. Only then did I truly understand the goodness, the Godliness of what is happening in our projects. I offer two examples.

On the first full day in El Salvador, our little band of travelers was taken to a small area in Santa Ana. CFCA has had a strong presence there for many years now. We were warmly welcomed by the sponsored children and their families and introduced to leaders who have risen up from the community to take on planning and visioning responsibilities. The atmosphere was one of excitement and pride. The mothers group was eager to show the skirts, purses and towels they were learning to sew. We were told about the community sewing co-op that is starting up, and children came forward to present each of us with a bag that had been sewn by the mothers.

I looked at the parents and children and saw a community of hope that was looking to the future and knowing that, while things may not be easy, there were others who were walking the journey with them.

Cut to scene two. CFCA has just entered into a relationship with the people of Chilcuyo, a town about an hour outside Santa Ana. We were the first group of sponsors to visit, and there were no sponsored children (yet!). We were again greeted by the beautiful children of the town, but there was anxiety underlying the excitement. They did not know what to expect. They had never received a group from CFCA, but more than that, there was a palpable anxiety to life in this town. There was fear. Fear of crime, of hunger, of isolation, and of the future.

When I compared these two towns, I saw clearly how CFCA is making an impact on entire communities, by impacting one person at a time. As each person develops, so develops the town, the area, the country and, in time, the world.

Sep 16 2009

Bob’s notes – visit to Bolivia

Mission awareness trip
Aug. 30 ñ Sept. 7, 2009

Itís a pleasure to share with you the experience of this mission awareness trip and the growth and excitement of CFCA Bolivia.

As background, the population of Bolivia is two-thirds indigenousóthe highest proportion in the hemisphere. Evo Morales won presidential elections in December 2005, the first indigenous Bolivian to do so. A year and a half later, a draft constitution giving more rights to the indigenous majority and more autonomy to the nine states led to sometimes violent demonstrations. Among our sponsored families and especially the youth, the CFCA-lived doctrine of non-violent conflict resolution will play a key part in their attitude and behavior.

A motherís testimony
In the Santa Cruz subproject of Los Bosques, 47 percent of the families are headed up by single mothers. A mother of five, Dominga, told us that belonging to CFCA and attending workshops on human dignity, self-confidence and conflict resolution turned her marital life around and actually brought the childrenís father back home.

Home for prisonersí children
We were privileged to spend a late afternoon and evening with the outgoing girls and boys at Hogar de la Esperanza (House of Hope). This home, dedicated to the children of prisoners, is owned by an association and run by Catholic sisters. We have 38 children sponsored in this hogar.

A tremendous refreshment
On Sept. 1 in Yapacani, we visited families who mostly live in homes made of rough-cut planks. Dads work hard in the fields. The sponsored families are deeply grateful.

Sponsored children play the violins for sponsors

Later in the day, we stepped into the cool and moderately lit parish church and found ourselves in the midst of a full orchestra and chorale made up of children and teensówith about half identified by their shirts as being sponsored in CFCA. The music, except for the Star Spangled Banner sung in English, was classical.

Dancing with the sponsored aging

After the formal concert, the show continued outside on the basketball court with snacks and lots of dancing with the sponsored aging. My partner, Dona Isabel, had obviously worked hard all her life. She threw me around the dance court like a feather.

By land to Cochabamba
On Friday morning in subproject Sacaba, my group visited Dona Tomasaóan ailing grandmother who never attended a single day of school. Yet Dona Tomasa and her husband, Roberto, strive each day to raise and educate Brian, 10, Christian, 12, Norma, 15, and a fourth young girl who was in school. Only Brian and Christian are sponsored. Dona Tomasa spoke of what a fine student Norma has become. Norma spoke of her aspirations to study medicine, and sponsor Jane Kinney-Knotek offered to sponsor Norma.

Youth group impresses
At subproject Pucarita Chica in the afternoon, we were all tremendously impressed by the 50 or so sponsored teens assembled for a meeting. They invited the sponsors to their meeting. Martin, a CFCA scholar, communications major and group facilitator, was able to establish a good interchange between the youth and sponsors. I really felt a sense of ìbrimming with potentialî in these teens.

From Cochabamba to La Paz
About an hour out of Cochabamba, we began our ear-popping climb. Eufronia Taquichiri, aide-coordinator of subproject Melga, Cristina and I traveled with Don Pablo in a Toyota van, which negotiated the mountain roads very well.

Children welcome sponsors

Our gathering at subproject Alto Pampahasi took place on a sun-baked, outdoor basketball court, packed with children, families, teens and the sponsored elderly.

I spoke with a young Aymara mother of four small children who was recently abandoned by their father. She earns a little money by washing clothes in the neighborhood and expressed great gratitude for the sponsorship of two of her children. I am told that 80 percent of the mothers in this area are heads of households but also that 80 percent of the parents in a nearby subproject now can read and write thanks to CFCA classes.

Subproject San Martin de Porres
We have been working in this neighborhood in the southern part of El Alto since 2000. We have 167 children sponsored, about equally divided between girls and boys. This figure is significant because a great number of the families had to move from rural Aymara areas, where boys were favored in opportunities to study. Life is challenging here. For the mothers, small incomes are generated by washing clothes and street vendingómainly food items and sale of macramÈ. For the dads, the work consists mostly of construction help and temporary day labor. They are all deeply grateful for the CFCA presence.

Bolivia has begun a Children/Youth Congress. One of our sponsored girls, Laura, 11, has been elected by her peers and teachers to represent the children of El Alto at this congress. She attributes her successes in life to her family, teachers, sponsors and CFCA.

On to Brazil
Cristina and I have been very fortunate to obtain visas for Brazil at the Consulado here in La Paz. They are quite strict about the requirements but, fortunately, we had everything in order. To scout the roads and conditions for my walk, we will drive the 637 miles from Santa Cruz to the Brazilian border at Corumba. There we will be met by the CFCA team from Mineiros, who will accompany us to visit the projects in Mineiros and Cipauba. Thank you for being with our mission awareness trip groups in solidarity and prayer.

God’s blessings,

Bob Hentzen

Sep 15 2009

Maria sells newspapers in El Salvador

What kind of job would you do if your life depended on it? Would you dive to the bottom of a river to collect sand? Pound rocks into gravel? Chop sugar cane in the hot sun?

Maria, the mother of two sponsored children, sells newspapers on a busy street corner in Santa Ana, El Salvador, to support her family. She earns $4.50 a day, not enough to cover expenses.

CFCA sponsorship helps fill the gap between what she earns and what she needs not just to survive, but to get ahead. She receives health care and food provisions for her family. Sponsorship support also enables Maria to provide an education for her children in the hope that they can break the cycle of poverty.

That’s why Maria continues to brave rush-hour traffic, blazing heat and pounding rain to sell newspapers.

Related links
Breaking rocks for a living

Sep 10 2009

A day in the life of a CFCA social worker

By Leticia Salazar Fonseca, CFCA social worker in Costa Rica

Leticia delivering sponsor letters children in Desamparados
Leticia delivering mail to children in Desamparados

My name is Leticia, and I have been serving CFCA for more than eight years. It is early in the morning, and I get up thanking our Lord for another day of life. I put my life in His merciful hands as I prepare a cup of coffee.

To be part of the CFCA team has been an immense blessing for me. We feel that what we do is not just a job: it is a mission in our life. I get ready to visit communities in the morning and to distribute benefits in the afternoon. Today we will visit the communities of Desamparados, Los Alpes and La Managuita.

Los Alpes
In our home visits, we offer hope and dignity to all our sponsored families. This is why, early in the morning, we arrive at the community of Los Alpes. With the help of the mothers, we prepared breakfast for a little over 100 sponsored children and, while we do that, they all are talking about the trip to the water park they enjoyed last week. They had the opportunity to share with their friends and to enjoy the pools, horse rides, trails, etc. We had 12 buses full of smiling angels who waved at anybody who would look at them. To get out of their violent and aggressive communities and to be able to enjoy a healthy environment has a great meaning and value for them.

Children eating breakfast prepared for them by the mothers and CFCA social workers.While we were with the children, we were notified that one of our sponsored elderly, Jose, had lost his home and belongings in a fire. Apparently robbers broke into his house the night before, while he slept at his relativesí, and decided to burn it to erase any evidence. We went to visit Jose and found him sadly looking through the rubble of his house and remembering his 50 years of marriage.

Last year, Joseís wife passed away, and this has him very depressed, ìI lost little things and memories that one saves,î Jose said with tears in his eyes. ìGod loves me; he did not let me die in this fire. No matter what happens, we must trust Him, because better things will come.î

Jose lost eight guitars he handmade. ìThe material things burned down but the formula to make my guitars cannot be taken away, it is saved in my memory,î Jose told us. Amidst the pain, it is incredible to see the solidarity of the sponsored families in the area who were already trying to find clothing and goods to help Jose. CFCA is already finding ways to support him, too.
Read more