Tag: Central America

CV-featured-image
Sep 3 2014

We need to be standing on the brink with these families

cv_sa (128)_2

by Cara VanNice, communications director for Unbound

Our recent coverage of the violence in Kenya, the plight of girls in India and the Central American children at the U.S. border highlight a common thread that runs throughout the communities where Unbound works – urgency. We are where we are because we are needed there. Help is needed there.
Read more

Oct 31 2012

Visiting sponsored aging friends in Guatemala

CFCA in Guatemala: Olga Argueta and Cleta, sponsored aging friend

From left are Olga Argueta, CFCA staff member in Guatemala, and Cleta, a sponsored aging friend.

In the countries where we work, the elderly often have no one to depend on for their well-being. They receive no social security and may not be able to count on family members for support, as adult children are often occupied with their own survival.

About three years ago, a community in Guatemala noticed some of our sponsored aging friends had difficulties traveling to the local CFCA office for birthday celebrations, Christmas celebrations and other CFCA activities. So they decided to take the celebrations to the sponsored friends’ own homes, and that’s how regular visits to sponsored elderly began!

In the words of Olga Argueta, CFCA staff member in Guatemala

Every three months we plan one whole day for visiting the elderly. We have identified six friends of the 50 sponsored aging friends in our community who have difficulties moving around, and they are the ones we visit. Read more

Oct 29 2012

Letters to sponsored friends translate into smiles

Did you know that every year, we process more than 1 million letters from sponsored friends to their sponsors?

That’s tremendous cause for celebration! Behind every letter is a special story and friendship that we treasure.

Here are three sponsored children in El Salvador who recently received letters from their sponsors. Their smiles say it all.

CFCA sponsored child Norma in El SalvadorNorma is 8 years old. She enjoys attending school and playing with her friends. Photos, like the one Norma is holding from her sponsor, are a fun, meaningful and practical way to deepen ties between sponsors and sponsored friends.

CFCA sponsored child Veronica in El SalvadorVeronica, at 10 years old, writes frequently to her sponsor. They share many things in common. For example, their favorite cartoon is “Tom and Jerry.”

CFCA sponsored child Luis in El SalvadorLuis is 10 years old. He loves to play soccer. Here he is, reading aloud from his sponsor’s letter.

Developing a sense of friendship and mutual encouragement is one of the most rewarding aspects of sponsorship through CFCAís Hope for a Family program.

Don’t wait – write a letter to your sponsored friend today!

Oct 25 2012

Walking for water in Guatemala

Many sponsored friends and family members who live in the town of Santa Maria, in Ixhuatan, Guatemala, go without running water or electricity in their homes because these necessities are not readily available.

Edelmira and her family in Guatemala.

Edelmira and her family in Guatemala.

Edelmira is a mother of four: three boys and one girl. Edelmira’s son, Josue, is sponsored through the Hope for a Family program. The family does not have running water in the home, and they must travel to a community tank to get water.

Edelmira gives us an inside look into the life of her family.

What is the current water situation in your home?

We do not have running water in our home.

Every day I walk 20 minutes to a community tank to get our daily supply of water.

I bring the water home in big plastic jars. I carry two jars: one on my head and one on my arm.

I make several trips back and forth to the tank. I walk up and down hills, and it usually takes me about two or three hours every day.

I am familiar with walking and carrying heavy loads. When I was a little girl my father would have us work in the fields and carry big sacks of corn and beans on our head.

Do you ever experience water shortages? Read her answer

Sep 10 2012

Welcoming a newborn baby in Guatemala

Luis Cocon, our CFCA communications liaison in Guatemala, and his wife, Mercedes, recently welcomed their third child, Cristel, into the world. Here Luis describes some local customs and traditions that take place after a baby is born.

Cristel, in Guatemala

Welcome, Cristel!

Naming babies in Guatemala is a family thing. We all get involved: parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and everyone close enough will usually have a say in the matter.

We are careful in choosing names; we want our children to be proud of their name and we try to avoid those that can be offensive, funny or extravagant.

Our more common sources for names are: names of parents, grandparents or close relatives, from nature, from characteristics expected from the baby’s personality or popular names at the time.

Local customs and traditions

As soon as possible after our baby was born, my wife drank a hot tortilla drink called “atol de tortilla.” We believe this tortilla drink provides good, abundant and rich breast milk. Read more

Jan 30 2012

Sponsored children get school supplies in Central America

The school year for Central American countries starts in January or February, and parents have been shopping the last few weeks for school supplies.

CFCA sponsored child Mauricio in El Salvador with school supplies

Mauricio, 6, is a CFCA sponsored child in El Salvador. Here he displays his school supplies purchased through sponsorship benefits.

For families living in poverty, however, school supplies can cost more than the families are able to afford. Usually the cost ranges between $50 to $60.

Families in the CFCA sponsorship program sometimes earn as little as $100 a month or less. That means buying school supplies would consume around half of their monthly income.

Here are two CFCA sponsored children in El Salvador, who obtained school supplies this year through sponsorship benefits.

Mauricio (interview with his grandmother, Antonia)

Mauricio lives with his mother, his two sisters and grandmother. His mother works as a security guard and is paid $180 a month. His grandmother sells vegetables and fruit and makes approximately $60 per month.

What does it means to your household budget for CFCA to provide these school supplies? Read more

Feb 10 2011

Honduras project celebrates 125 sponsored members’ graduation

CFCA graduates in Santa Barbara, Honduras

Despite tremendous obstacles, 125 youth sponsored through CFCA and some scholarship students graduated from high school in December 2010.

My name is Manuel Pineda. I am the coordinator in the CFCA project in Santa Barbara, Honduras.

As coordinator, I have witnessed the efforts made by students in my country to reach their educational goals, especially those who live in rural areas.

Students are constantly tempted to drop out of school because of burdens such as economic limitations, lack of support and absence of parents, lack of public transportation to school, insufficient and inadequate nutrition, etc.

Manuel Pineda

Manuel Pineda

In December 2010, our CFCA project in Santa Barbara celebrated the graduation of 125 sponsored members and some scholarship students from high school in areas like business administration, social service, Spanish teaching, tourism and automotive mechanics. Some graduated as technicians in refrigeration, computers and nursing.

Many of these students had to work to cover part of their educational expenses. Others had to walk more than 6 miles to get to school, but with the support of CFCA, they have had the chance to reach their professional dreams.

“I thank CFCA for supporting me since fourth grade up to finishing my high school. When my mother passed away, I did receive economic and spiritual support,” said Nancy, a sponsored girl who graduated from high school after studying business administration.

Parents of Mirta, a sponsored girl and now a computer technician, told us, “We had five children and only Mirta has had the chance to give us the joy of seeing her graduate because we never pictured having this in our life.”

I have been able to appreciate the joy of these parents, a couple in their 70s, to see the success of their daughter, which they consider a family achievement.

The graduated students have demonstrated they are capable, with good behavior and great discipline, once given an opportunity. CFCA helps them to overcome the obstacles that they face daily.

When I reflect on these achievements, I see how CFCA is an active source of hope, helping the sponsored members and their families to be strong and to transform their own realities.

Feb 9 2011

‘I never felt so loved and appreciated in my life’: A sponsor’s trip to Costa Rica

Georgina Hartwell sent us this evaluation after she and her husband, Henry, went on a mission awareness trip to Costa Rica. While there they visited Steven, their sponsored friend. We are sharing this evaluation with their permission.

Steven's family

From left are Georgina; Steven, the Hartwells’ sponsored friend; Steven’s sister, Noelia; Steven’s mother, Jolane; and Henry.

Did you find that the orientation and information provided by the CFCA project staff during the trip adequately described the host country and CFCA’s work there?

Yes.

Would you recommend a CFCA mission awareness trip to others?

Yes.

Why or why not?

It was up close and personal. We saw our money at work.

Please describe your impressions of the trip and how the trip affected you personally.

I cried a lot. I never felt so loved and appreciated in my life (I’m 68). It was more than I expected. I guess I thought we would view much from afar. We did not. We were so very much “with the people.”

Also, on the trip we celebrated our 47th anniversary. The women of Desamparados surprised us with a beautiful, huge, delicious cake ñ enough to share with all!

Hartwells' anniversary cake

The Hartwells’ anniversary cake.

Any additional comments or suggestions?

The week was packed full of activities but I never felt pressured with a time schedule. Yes, there was a schedule but the staff and our wonderful driver, Carlos, always managed to be a bit flexible with a smile!

God bless all aspects and people of CFCA. With the five enclosed brochures you sent us, I will do my best to get five new sponsors.

Jan 3 2011

How different parts of the world celebrate the New Year

We asked Unbound communication liaisons to describe how they celebrated the New Year in their countries. Here are three reports:

Guatemala

In my beautiful country Guatemala, New Year’s celebrations are prepared with great joy, and our customs and traditions give this year-end feast a special touch.

Traditionally, we receive the New Year with a delicious Guatemalan tamale on the table, prepared from corn, chicken or pork, salty or sweet with grapes and raisins, and also a hot cup of fruit punch or traditional hot chocolate.

fireworks

We all enjoy dinner as a family waiting for midnight. And then … young and old enter the streets to illuminate the night sky with firecrackers and fireworks.

The tremendous noise announcing the New Year is heard across the whole country.

Beside our Christmas tree and next to the nativity scene, locally called “El Nacimiento,” we say a family prayer.

It all ends with strong hugs and often with tears of joy and emotion. -Luis Cocon

Kenya

Fireworks lighting up the skies, cheers and ululations, cars honking; this is how Kenyans usher in the New Year.

On New Year’s Eve, young and old throng entertainment spots to sing, dance and drink. The towns are usually alive with activity, and music is heard from miles away.

When the long-awaited hour approaches, a countdown starts. As the clock strikes midnight, the crowd goes into a frenzy as people scream at the top of their voices and toast the New Year.

However, not everyone goes to entertainment spots. Some opt to go to evening church vigils where they sing, praise God and listen to preaching.

As the hour approaches, the faithful pray for a fruitful year filled with God’s blessings.†When midnight strikes, praise songs fill the places of worship as the New Year is dedicated to God.

Whether in churches or entertainment spots, Kenya ushers in the New Year in style.

Kenyans are a jovial lot and wherever they are, laughter fills the air as a new chapter is opened.-Regina Mburu

El Salvador

The celebration of New Year’s Eve, or Noche Vieja (old night), is big in El Salvador.

Families welcome the New Year with food, cumbia, merengue or salsa music, fire crackers and fireworks, as well as unique midnight ceremonies.

Before midnight, hundreds of families buy what is locally called “Estreno,” or brand-new clothing.

We have a tradition of buying brand-new outfits to be worn at night to welcome the New Year, to attract new and positive things all year long.

Streets are full of people at night; neighbors visit neighbors, share food and dance a little.

Children and teenagers usually spend most of the night popping firecrackers or fireworks.

As midnight approaches, some people prepare unique ceremonies. One is the egg ritual, where people break an egg one minute before midnight, dump it in a glass with water and let it sit as the year changes.

The egg yolk mutates into various forms, and people try to interpret them as trips, houses, etc., a sign of things to come in the New Year.

At midnight, everybody is outside. Family members hug one another; there are tears and laughs; the phone rings with calls from relatives in other countries to wish the family a Happy New Year; and neighbors embrace, offering peace and best wishes.

One hour into the New Year, streets are empty.

The distant sound of a few firecrackers reminds you that the New Year has arrived and that we must do our best to make it a really good one.-Henry Flores

Dec 30 2010

Family stands strong while mother is away

When Kenia was 14, her mother moved to Costa Rica with Keniaís oldest brother to find work and left Kenia and two brothers behind. For the past two years, Kenia has been raised by her brother, Juan Carlos. Kenia and Juan Carlos are sponsored through CFCAís Hope for a Family program. Kenia talks about how the separation has affected her and her family.

How did you feel when your mother and older brother left Nicaragua for Costa Rica?

It was very sad and very difficult. But because of the country’s economic situation, they were forced to leave.

How do you feel now?

I have had to get used to it since, even though she is far away from us, she calls us always and is always waiting for us to call. It is very difficult, but life is like that. One never thinks that these things could happen.

Raul, Juan Carlos, and Kenia

From left are Raul, Juan Carlos and Kenia.

Do you miss your mother?

Yes, because she has been a very good mother, a fighter, who in spite of all that has happened, has always fought for her children’s well-being.

I always imagine that the New Year or some other vacation period is coming so that she can return and we can be together again.

Do you have family to care for you, or only Juan Carlos?

Yes, thank God that besides my brothers, Raul and Carlos, some people will give me support and strength to carry on. They are not relatives but it is as though they were. They are always watching out for me, and I am very grateful. They are the couple who are pastors of the church that I attend.

How do you help your brother at home?

We will help each other, whether with household chores, which we divide among ourselves, or with our studies with which my brother Carlos helps me as I help my younger brother Raul. So we have learned that despite things that happen, love and the unifying element of family always prevail.

Where do you go to school?

I study at an institute about four blocks from my house. I am in the fourth year of secondary school, which is a little difficult for me, but with some effort I will make headway because our lives are like a race in which you have to struggle to win the prize.

What do you want to be in your life?

God willing, next year I will graduate from secondary school. At first I wanted to study to be a teacher, but also to be a nurse, and I have decided to study nursing.

What are your dreams and hopes?

To see myself fulfilled, to obtain a professional career, work and help my mother and little brother, since my mother has been that source of strength in those moments when I feel that I cannot continue. I remember what she does for me and I continue on.

Other wishes are to have the opportunity of knowing different countries, to mix well with people and to have new friends.

Read the story about Kenia’s brother, Juan Carlos.