Tag: Central America

Dec 23 2010

Sponsor’s daughter writes about Guatemalan experience

We received this school essay from a CFCA sponsor’s daughter, Samantha, who visited Guatemala in September 2009 after a number of deadly mudslides. Samantha is now a high school senior and considering college options ñ including “missionary writing.” We think this is a good place to start!

Hope in the Midst of Suffering

Clanging dishes, dogs barking and a rooster crowing at 6 a.m. was not how I wanted my summer days to start. It was a beautiful morning, not a cloud in sight.

As the days passed I knew every morning would contain that inexplicable beauty. As the afternoon neared I expected a blusterous thunderstorm.

That wasn’t the only difference I found in Guatemala, contrary to my small town in the U.S.

The love I felt came from every direction, including the restless mountains and bountiful trees. Love was one thing these people held on to.

Guatemala helped me accept the diversity in their culture, to the children we sponsor and the lives they are living because of my family’s support, and to the love they encompass every person with.

CFCA stories

Their thin, porcelain-like figures helped me realize that these Guatemalans fought for their lives everyday just to get a small tamale and water, as opposed to my being used to a nice, inviting feast. Seems like such a simple gift that we often take for granted.

Tragedy overcame this country in one sweep of a storm killing many, ruining all forms of transportation. Rocks covered all roadways making walking unbearable.

The children we sponsor each month with money and letters were finally standing in front of our very eyes.

My mom’s first reaction was to let slow tears roll from her face. My brother’s was to play some soccer (f˙tbol), my dad’s was to chat with the sponsored children’s parents.

I took a whole new take on things. I just watched, listened to their rolling Spanish-speaking tongues, and smiled at their confused expressions when we tried communicating back.

The situation was surreal. So often I thought my life was broken, but when I saw these people with the bare minimum to live I found that my life was so much more blessed than I realized.

Venturing from place to place gave me a sense of being, of wonder, and of true unconditional love. Everywhere I glanced I felt smiles overwhelm me. I had never felt that feeling of a total stranger loving me.

They showed the true meaning of loving your neighbor as yourself. The gifts that they gave us would never amount to, or ever live up to, the gifts we received from them.

The days in Guatemala passed by like the wind, leaving me awestruck and in love. These were my kind of people. They gave everything they had and left nothing for themselves.

Guatemala changed me, not just because of its natural beauty in the midst of mudslides, but it changed how I view my life, let alone how I want to live it.

Accepting their way of life, seeing my adopted family, and opening my eyes to their love really gave me hope.

Through this turmoil I finally found hope in the midst of suffering.

Nov 30 2010

A family transformed through CFCA’s work in El Salvador

We have two new stories on our website, hopeforafamily.org. Even though they focus on two people – Santiago and his son, Cesar – they are all about one incredible family.

Santiago's family

Santiago and his family

Santiago, from El Salvador, credits CFCA sponsorship with giving his family a support network of local CFCA staff, sponsors for his children and other families in the CFCA program.

ìI think the best gift that I could have received from God is to have a group of people who support me,î he said.

His oldest son, Cesar, is planning to study accounting and English. He’s a CFCA scholar and has received educational assistance, clothing and school supplies.

ìWithout CFCA, my parents could not cover these needs and I would have to drop out of school and go out and work to help my parents bring up my siblings,î Cesar said. ìThis is a real impact on my family and on my life.î

In the future, Cesar hopes to start a family, own a home and buy a car.

Read Santiago’s story here.

Read Cesar’s story here.

Nov 8 2010

Walk2gether sparks gallery of T-shirts

So we all know that CFCA President and Co-founder Bob Hentzen is passing through 12 countries on an 8,000-mile walk called Walk2gether. Weíve had UnivisiÛn, Fox 4 KC and the Kansas City Star report on him.

What you may not have heard about is the fashion statement that CFCA is making in the process!

Many of the countries in which Bob is walking have made Walk2gether T-shirts for CFCA staff members, sponsored friends and their families to wear as badges of honor.

Enjoy the sample gallery slideshow that weíve created:

Local companies and some CFCA livelihood projects have benefited from the design, manufacturing and distribution of these T-shirts.

One report in particular touched us: Benjamin Nestor, a sponsored youth in El Salvador who is in a wheelchair, created the Salvadoran T-shirtís design.

Henry Flores, director of the CFCA Communication Center in El Salvador, told us that Benjamin taught himself how to use Photoshop, a graphic design program.

ìA group of friends gave Benjamin the computer and he started to play with it,î Henry wrote. ìHe is awesome!î

Note: One of the benefits CFCA provides sponsored members is clothing. Many of them especially enjoy wearing their T-shirts designed with the CFCA and Walk2gether logos!

Oct 28 2010

Before and after: How sponsorship transformed one childís life

By Shanxi Omoniyi, CFCA web editor and writer

Milton and Lila Krainbill

Milton and Lila Krainbill

Many of us at the CFCA office in Kansas City know Milton and Lila Krainbill, and those who donít will learn pretty quickly.

Theyíre longtime sponsors and volunteers in Holton, Kan., who serve a delicious lunch to all the Kansas City staff once a year. With the employee head count at just over 130, thatís no easy feat.

But even more amazing are the Krainbillsí pictures showing the progress of their sponsored child, Heidy, in Costa Rica.

Milton and Lila took a vacation to Costa Rica in 2003, and they asked to tour the San Jose project there.

From the moment they met Heidy and her family, the Krainbills knew they couldnít lose contact with this little girl. She was one of eight children in a family struggling to overcome poverty.

The familyís galvanized tin house had gaping holes in the siding that let in rainwater. The children slept on pallets instead of beds.

ìWhen we saw the situation, we just couldnít walk away without taking on another sponsorship,î Lila said.

Seven years later, Milton and Lila returned to find a transformed family.

Read more about Heidy’s changed life

Oct 11 2010

Sponsorship legacy passes from mother to daughter

We enjoy hearing from sponsors about their mission awareness trips, and this story especially moved us. Mari Wrightís mother started sponsoring Andrea in Honduras when Andrea was only 2 years old. She never visited Andrea, but wrote to her regularly. Mari decided to continue the sponsorship after her mother died in 2003. This year, Mari visited Andrea for the first time and discovered a precious letter that her mother had written back in 1999. Mari recounts her experiences in the following post.

This summer I was so fortunate to be able to go on a mission awareness trip to Honduras, my first time to visit any CFCA project. I went to meet Andrea, the child I have been sponsoring since 2003.

Andrea and Mari

Andrea, second from left, and Mari, second from right, celebrate at a CFCA birthday party for sponsored friends.

The way I became a sponsor is a story worth telling. In 1998 a devastating hurricane killed many people and did horrendous damage to the small country of Honduras.

My mother, a devout Roman Catholic and resident of Kansas, heard about CFCAís work to help the people there. She wanted to contribute and decided to sponsor a child.

Andrea was then 2 years old. Every year when a photograph came, Mom would show it to me, along with letters written by Andreaís mother.

When my mother died in 2003, I decided to continue the sponsorship.

Before long Andrea learned to write letters, herself. She often would ask me if I could ever come to meet her. Finally this past summer I was able to do so.

From the moment my plane landed in Honduras I felt my motherís blessings close around me. The CFCA project leader, who met me at the airport, exclaimed, ìYou are going to be able to see your child three times, the most of anyone on this trip!î

Our first meeting was at the whole-day celebration held for visiting sponsors, the children and parents ó held at a water park not far from the airport and our hotel.

We spent a wonderful, relaxed day playing and getting to know one another.

When our group went to Andreaís home a few days later, she showed me a letter she had received in 1999 from my mother in Momís own beautiful handwriting.

They had kept the letter and treasured it all the years.

I think all of us had tears in our eyes as I read aloud the sweet message.

Stacy, a representative from the CFCA office in Kansas City, was with us that afternoon and urged me to write this story.

The next day I was in a group of sponsors attending a typical CFCA birthday party for all the children whose birthdays were in that three-month period.

Since Andreaís brother was one of them, she was invited to come too. We sat together and talked in a more easygoing manner as our friendship grew.

Then when it was time for the children to go, there wasnít room on the bus for all of them, so Andrea and her brother were allowed to stay.

One of the CFCA staff drove them home later after finishing the cleanup. That meant I got to spend even more time with her. I was so lucky! I felt I really got to know her and her family.

Andrea and her mother

Andrea and her mother meet Mari.

All the activities planned for us during the trip made plain how much our small monthly contributions are valued by the recipient families.

The very hard-working staff of the CFCA project ó all residents of the area and citizens of Honduras ó are a true inspiration. They create the incredible effectiveness of the program.

Andreaís project leader, has known her family over the many years that he has worked with CFCA.

Even though he is responsible for hundreds of children and their families, he remembers the histories and details of each one. He treated her and her brother with such care. And he welcomed me warmly into their community.

I have been tremendously enriched by this experience. I truly feel that I have a goddaughter now in Honduras.

Thanks, Mom!

Oct 6 2010

El Salvadoran man, 103, explains how to live a long life

In honor of International Day of the Elderly, weíre featuring Federico Antonio, a sponsored 103-year-old in El Salvador. He lives in a Catholic home for the aged. His sponsorship benefits are given to the home, and the sisters provide him with food and other supplies. Read on to learn why heís lived so long!

Federico Antonio

Federico Antonio, a sponsored 103-year-old in El Salvador.

What is your name? Federico Antonio.

How was your childhood? My childhood was humble. I did not have much upbringing, no education. I didn’t study. I had lots of difficulties. I was poor, and that is what I most regret.

Were you raised by your mother and father? Only by my mother. My father died when I was an infant.

Were you the oldest? No. I was the youngest. I am 103. My mother died at 105.

What year were you born? 1907.

Did you marry? No, I did not marry at all.

Do you have children? No, I don’t have children.

Why didn’t you marry? I didn’t have the means. Before, you paid 30 colones (6 U.S. cents) to get married. Imagine. And after that, you still had to eat, get a house and all the other things. Others can suffer, but me, no. If I am poor, I will suffer alone. But I had a girlfriend who told me, “Let’s get married.” But I always told her, no. Her name was Emilia and she was very pretty. But I didn’t want to marry, even though I intended to earn something to take care of her, but I wasn’t able to. I planted corn fields, but I couldn’t earn anything because the soil wasn’t good for corn. So, I learned to make bread and intended to get married at age 28, but I couldn’t.

In your youth, what work did you do? I was a day laborer. I cleared fields with a machete. I cleared coffee fields with a machete. The military accepted me. I learned to cut poles.

Did you live alone or with your siblings and mother? We lived together, with my mother, until she died.

Did your siblings play with you? Yes, we played and they beat me up and wrestled with me. I had to climb a tree to get away from them.

Read more about Federico Antonio’s story

Oct 4 2010

Nicaraguan zoo hosts sponsors, their friends

Bill Jasman, a CFCA sponsor and volunteer, reflects on a recent mission awareness trip to Nicaragua where sponsors accompanied their friends to the zoo.

Day 1
As we begin our travels from North America to Nicaragua, we are each making a separate but joint pilgrimage as we visit our sponsored friends. God bless all the little ones who are visited by their sponsors this week.

Jean Davis and Orlando at the Nicaraguan zoo

Jean Davis and her sponsored child, Orlando, visit the Nicaraguan National Zoo.

Day 2
We traveled to the mountain city of San Lorenzo to attend Sunday Mass with the sponsored members and their parents. Father honored CFCA with an award for improving the community, as well as presenting an honor from the mayor for the same reason. We had a great lunch with a cultural presentation followed by a visit. Some of us traveled the 2-kilometer hill on horses, while others took a truck to the top. Once we were gathered, a storm system trapped us inside a small community chapel for an hour. We had to leave without visiting a home, but the families welcomed us just the same.

Day 3
The sponsors made their way to Managua. These sponsored children come from families struggling to find constant work. One of the highlights of this visit was the home of sponsor William Patterson, who donated a home to a large family and sponsors nine people from one family. He believes this second family has given him a special blessing in his life. When we got back to our retreat house, we were greeted by the sponsored members.

Day 4
This is the special day of the trip: the sponsors accompany their friends to the Nicaraguan National Zoo. This zoo has a great collection of animals. The sponsored members learned about species from Central and South America. The butterfly house was very special. Afterward the sponsored members and their sponsors were treated to the pool and more time together. After we got back, gifts were exchanged. The sponsored members also demonstrated their talents in a talent show.

Day 5
We said goodbye to our sponsored friends in the morning and moved on to El Sauce. This city is far to the northwest of Leon. We were welcomed to the community by the CFCA families. Sponsored members celebrated in song and dance, and then we participated in a great birthday celebration. A sponsored memberís father played a very energetic clown who hosted the birthday party. Sponsors also got a lesson on the history of the organization.

Day 6
After a good nightís rest in Leon City, we visited the CFCA office there and learned more about the CFCA operation. The sponsored students put on a great cultural presentation, including a play that demonstrated what happens when a family gets sponsorship benefits. We visited the homes of sponsored friends and went to the Pacific Ocean. After a long ride back to the retreat center, we learned about Bob Hentzenís 8,000-mile walk and another subproject in Nicaragua.

Day 7
Today is our last day of visiting projects. One subproject hosted a farewell Mass and cultural display. We made our final visit to sponsored homes where artisans craft goods for the Masaya Mercado (market). Two sponsors got to travel to their childrenís homes. We were offered goods at 20 percent of the Mercadoís price. We all tried to help the families by buying goods directly from them. We then went to the Mercado to close the trip and put money into the economy. We held a closing meeting where we addressed what to do when we go home.

Hasta luego, Nicaragua.

Sep 15 2010

Teaching hope to oneís children

Jesly and Laura

Jesly meets Laura, her sponsor, in Nicaragua.

One of our sponsors, Laura, discusses a recent trip with her daughter to Nicaragua, her home country, to visit their sponsored friend.

My name is Laura and I was born in the beautiful country of Nicaragua. I have the great pleasure of sponsoring a child from my home country; her name is Jesly and she is 6 years old. Recently, I traveled to Nicaragua to see my family and took the opportunity to schedule a visit to meet Jesly. The main goals for my visit were not just to meet Jesly but also to introduce my 5-year-old daughter Julia to the gratifying experience of helping others in need.

Jesly lives in a town called Esteli, which is about a three-hour drive from the capital of Managua where my family lives. When we arrived at the Managua project, my daughter, my brother and I decided to drive ourselves accompanied by a CFCA guide. We drove for a long while, passing through green valleys and mountains, and a couple of rain showers! I think I saw more of my country that day than I had in years!

When we reached Esteli we were met by the local CFCA coordinator. By this time the rain was pouring and when we pulled up to Jeslyís home, currents of mud were everywhere. I found Jesly, her mom Belky, and her little brother Jonathan waiting for us. I found Jesly to be a sweet, shy and beautiful little girl. I was so glad that I had brought my daughter to meet her. The humble home and surroundings made me reflect on the plight of so many people in Nicaragua and around the world. I was told of how CFCA provides assistance to families in need and Jeslyís family in particular.

Jesly and Julia

Jesly meets Julia, Laura’s daughter.

I was able to give Jesly a few toys and some clothing that I had brought for her. In no time, she and my daughter were playing with the dolls we had just ripped out of their packages! It warmed my heart to see how two little girls from different backgrounds could be brought together with the simple and universal act of playing with dolls.

When I was back at my parentsí home, I reflected on the dayís events. I was so thankful for the opportunity to meet Jesly and especially for being able to share the experience with my daughter. I spoke to Julia about the importance of helping those in need; that there are many people who need assistance and that a lot of them are kids just like her. I pray that this experience will stay with her as she grows up and that she recognizes how blessed we are in our family with everything that the Lord has provided for us.

I would like to thank CFCA for making this journey possible.

Sep 10 2010

Welcome to our new website

What do you think of our new website? Our redesign has given it a more updated look, with interactive features and more stories from the field. We invite you to explore it and share it with your friends.

Weíve made your online experience easier to navigate. One of our highlights involves our work, with an interactive map of all the countries CFCA is reaching. You can view photos, videos and stories from around the world.

To keep up-to-date, explore whatís happening. Peruse the latest news and stories, read our blog, view upcoming events and find out how you can meet your sponsored friend on a mission awareness trip. Learn about special events and activities here, with Walk2gether updates, reports on the Zamboanga documentary and more.

Welcome to our new site!

Tell us what you think of our new site!

Details on how to get involved explain ways you can help spread the word about CFCA and participate in our work. View profiles of children, youth and aging friends waiting for sponsorship. Donate to one of our special funds or make a donation in memory of, or to honor, someone special. Finally, learn how you can get involved in CFCA outreach activities in your community.

We included youth resources on the tell others page, another new feature. Anyone interested in teaching young people about global solidarity can check out our quarterly eLessons and curricula. We also encourage you to subscribe to our monthly eNews and other communications to stay connected.

We have a brand new section where you can explore planned giving options. Learn about the latest options for immediate or future giving, including estate gifts, charitable annuities and donations of stocks, bonds and real estate. Create a personalized illustration using the gift planning calculator, and research tools and options using our resource library.

The why sponsor? section helps people who are considering sponsorship learn more about our program, how it works, and its transformative effect. It also highlights reviews about CFCA from others ó charity rating agencies, other sponsors, people who have been on mission awareness trips and more. We invite you to share your own history with CFCA on your blog or website.

Near the top right is a special section for our sponsors, where you can pay your sponsorship, find tips on how to write your sponsored friend, read frequently asked questions and learn how to get more involved with CFCA. We are working on a log-in section that will let you view information about your sponsored friend, see your payment history and manage your account.

The website has been a great tool in raising awareness about CFCA, and weíre excited about this opportunity to provide better service and information to those interested in our work. We hope you enjoy using it, and let us know in your comments what you think.

Aug 25 2010

Peace through Costa Rica

Bob Hentzen and other Walk2gether participants walk through Costa Rica.

Update: This reflection is from Rafael “Rafa” Villalobos, San Jose project coordinator, written after Walk2gether passed through Costa Rica earlier this year. The walkers have entered Ecuador and expect to be there until Sept. 14.

“Peace is passing through Costa Rica”
A Costa Rican radio station gave this title to Walk2gether. We have been waiting for it with much faith, love and hope.

Day 1

At 6 a.m., 250 families, representing all sponsored families in Costa Rica, were waiting for Walk2getherís arrival. As we waited, songs were heard: ìCome, a new day is here and amidst challenges and happiness, CFCA is growing.î ìMy heart, your heart, become one when we walk.î School bands, flags from Latin America, big banners with messages, all awaited the moment.

The walkers crossed into Costa Rica three hours later to cheers, applause, songs, prayers and hugs. A sublime moment came when Bob (CFCA president and co-founder Bob Hentzen) and his wife, Cristina, knelt and kissed the land. This was a symbol of deep love for our country and our CFCA families. We are stepping on holy land, the land of the poor who are the face of God. This land is blessed.

Bob gave words of gratitude and reminded us of the meaning of Walk2gether: ìI want to be close to the families. We walk for the most in need.î Cristina offered her love to the families and encouraged them to continue despite daily burdens. There were 15 other walkers from Guatemala and the Philippines.

We walked five kilometers from the border, PeÒas Blancas, to the Las Vueltas River. In front of us a big banner said, ìCFCA, 12,500 kilometers, bringing hope.î

Day 2

We began at 4 a.m. with a prayer asking for blessings upon our route. The heat intensified, and we rested often. This was a great opportunity for teachable moments with Bob, to share our experiences, difficulties and achievements.

Brother Jorge, CFCA Hermano Pedro project coordinator in Guatemala, shared the meaning of the CFCA logo. Later, we heard the testimony of Jafet, a scholarship student. He thanked CFCA for the outreach he received from the Costa Rica team.

Day 3

We walked from the community of Santa Rosa to the community of Liberia. Bob spoke with the youth walking with us. The teens commented on their worry of drugs, violence and lack of job opportunities. Marvis, a CFCA social worker, shared about the importance of strengthening family values.

Families from the community of Liberia came to greet the pilgrims, singing and showing beautiful banners with messages of hope and gratitude for CFCA, Bob and Cristina.

Day 4

The route planned was to walk 40 kilometers from Liberia to the Bagaces community. At kilometer 10, we had breakfast at the community of Pijije. This community has donated a piece of land for a CFCA office. Bob and Cristina inaugurated the construction of a CFCA center for sponsored members and their families. A few trees were planted as signs that we are called to offer life, love and strength.

Later, we arrived at the gym of the community of Bagaces. Some 400 people welcomed the pilgrims.

We also blessed the house built for one of the CFCA families. It was built by a group of North American students from the Saint Anselmo school (St Anselm’s College from New Hampshire) and members of the CFCA team.

March 5

We rested near the Miravalles Volcano, surrounded by spectacular views and thermal waters. Bob and Cristinaís family, Jake and Cesar, their wives and grandchildren, as well as one sponsor, joined us today.

One song has tried to gather the spirit of this pilgrimage.

Walking we make borders disappear,
We all become one on earth
One voice where hunger, cold and fear unite
And your burdens become mine
And your loneliness becomes my pain

They mix like the soil and our steps
Dignity, hope become one flag for Latin America