Tag: children

Oct 27 2010

CFCA staff from different countries visit Kansas City headquarters

Itís interesting to read what visitors on CFCA mission awareness trips have to say about the countries they visit, but what impresses people who visit the U.S.?

Last week, six accountants from Latin America projects ó four from Guatemala, one from El Salvador and one from Colombia ó visited the CFCA headquarters in Kansas to learn a new accounting system. They account for the sponsorship funds and their use in the field, then make their report back to Kansas City. We asked our guests what impressed them most during the visit.

CFCA accountants from Latin America

From left are Francisco Chavajay, Mario Gonzalez, Pedro Ibate, Alexandra Cardona Gomez, JosÈ Alfredo Julajuj and JosÈ Nery Madrid.

Hereís what they said …


p style=”text-align:left;”>ìIt is a blessing to be here learning new ways of working, and it fills me with happiness. Definitively, looking at the culture, I see lots of organization. I also noticed much cultural diversity. I have seen people from many different countries here in Kansas.î

óPedro Ibate, Atitlan project, Guatemala


p style=”text-align:left;”>ìThis is a very orderly country. I could see different kinds of construction that I havenít seen in my country. You donít have buses or transport trucks, like we have in Guatemala. Here, everybody has their own car. And there are lots of people on the streets, people out exercising, lots of green space. The people are very friendly.î

óJosÈ Alfredo Julajuj, Hermano Pedro project, Guatemala

Read more from the other accountants

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?

Oct 20 2010

Help CFCA save trees and cut costs with our Automatic Payment Plan

Help CFCA save a tree

CFCA sponsored members in Guatemala are undertaking a beautiful initiative to help the environment by planting 1 million trees by the end of 2011.

Right now, if you sign up to pay your sponsorship through our Automatic Payment Plan, sponsored members will plant a tree in your honor.

Printing, postage costs and bank fees continue to increase and currently average 84 cents for each sponsorship payment made by check.

In contrast, the cost for an automatic bank withdrawal is less than 3 cents.

Contributions made through CFCAís Automatic Payment Plan are safe, secure and reduce our costs.

Oct 18 2010

Walk2gether: CFCA helps families grow like trees in Peruvian desert

Yesenia Alfaro is the CFCA project coordinator in Santa Ana, El Salvador. She has been walking with Bob in Peru, and she sent us this recent update.

Yesenia Alfaro, CFCA project coordinator in Santa Ana

Yesenia Alfaro

Walk2gether has covered 375 kilometers (about 233 miles) in Peru, South America. We have walked through many towns and cities observing the reality of this country and its people.

I have seen great contrast, tourist areas with huge hotels, oil exploration areas and poor families living in the middle of the desert sand lacking basic services.

Poverty and inequality are everywhere; they just have different shades in different places.

Every day our road is different. However, risks remain the same such as crossroads with heavy traffic, large vehicles and high-speed driving, sometimes up to 150 kilometers (approximately 93 miles) per hour.

Our group of five or six walkers is very vulnerable, but we can feel Godís protection and the prayers offered by all families who are part of CFCA walking in spirit with us.

Loneliness on the road, long distances, exposure, and the poverty and inequality we see only serve to motivate CFCA and its mission to transform this reality.

While walking in a desert, my attention was caught by some trees that were growing in the middle of the desert.

I asked myself, ìWhy plant a tree in this desert? How are the trees going to survive?î

Peruvian desert tree

Tree planted in a Peruvian desert

These trees were planted with the hope of seeing them grow. They were planted with a different method: planting four bottles with water, with very small holes in the bottom, so the tree could be wet enough until its roots grew a little.

The results are trees with green leaves and signs of developing life.

Many times, we think that families and communities we serve canít grow because it is too difficult for them to develop.

Now I see families like these trees. They lack many things and go through lots of difficulties. The terrain is hard to work, but it is not impossible for it to produce and give life.

All we need to do is find the right method, with the hope that these families will be able to bloom.

Bob always invites us not to close our eyes to those who are in need.

They are there, close to us, and their blooming will require lots of work, effort and sacrifice, but the satisfaction will be much bigger.

Oct 7 2010

ëMagic belt’ makes Ecuador walkerís pain disappear

Bill Hansen, accounting manager at CFCA in Kansas City, joined Bob and the walkers in Ecuador during Aug. 15-21. An avid runner, Bill had every intention of completing the route without incident, but had a surprising setback at the end of the week.

Bob Hentzen and Bill Hansen

Bob Hentzen, left, and Bill Hansen, center, continue along Walk2gether with their “magic belts.”

I joined the walk in Quito. Just outside Quito, we crossed the equator and had about a 6-to-7-mile uphill walk.

The terrain got steeper as we approached the top. On the other side of the mountains, we saw trees and mountains. It reminded me a lot of the Missouri Ozarks.

For the next two days, we walked through the Andes and fortunately, it was all downhill.

We saw cows. I donít know how they would get on top of these mountains, grazing, or how they would get down, but it reminded me a lot of Switzerland.

For two days, we didnít see any houses or any people. We saw traffic, of course.

When we arrived at the bottom of that mountain range, we entered the Ecuadorian rain forest. I saw a lot of palm trees, banana trees and coffee plants.

Thatís when we started seeing people. We saw poverty, too. We were walking seven 5K segments, or about 21 miles a day.

On Friday, we came to a community called Porto de Quito where we started walking uphill into the Ecuadorian pineapple growing range. Thatís when I had the experience with my back.

Iíve been running for about five years and I have never had any problem with my back. Everyone told me to watch out for blisters.

I was watching my feet, wiping them off, putting lotion on them, changing socks and I had no problems at all. I was in good shape and feeling good.

When I first felt the pain in my back, I thought I could walk it off. Sometimes when youíre running, you get a cramp in your muscle.

You run through it and it goes away. But this wasnít going away. By noon on Friday, my back had had it.

Magic belts

During a rest period, I was waiting in the van, discouraged and very depressed.

When I started planning my participation in the walk last February, it never dawned on me that I wouldnít be able to do the whole week. My back has never bothered me.

I prayed and told God how I felt.

ìWhy did you bring me this far just to stop it here?î I asked.

Bob came out of the camper to start the walk again. I knew at that point I wouldnít be able to go any farther.

Before I could say anything, Bob came up to me and asked, ìHow are you feeling?î

ìMy backís had it,î I said. ìIím really, really sorry.î

ìWait a minute,î Bob said.

He went into his camper. That was really strange because when Bob gets out of his camper to go again, he doesnít stop for anything. I knew something was up.

He brought out this back belt with two straps that go around your shoulders and an elastic band that goes around your midsection.

You tighten the elastic band around your midsection and it feels like somebody is pushing up on the small of your back.

The minute I put it on, it was instant relief. I didnít feel the pain at all. It completely went away.

We started walking, and I thought, ìWow! This is great.î It was the key.

I walked all day Friday and all day Saturday. I wore the belt both days and had no problems whatsoever. I would not have been able to finish the walk without that belt.

Some people call it the ìmagic belt.î It really is a magic belt. I was able to finish the whole week. It was an answer to prayer.

Bob Hentzen comments:

I believe the magic part of the belt is the fact that it was given to me as a gift in love and concern by our CFCA co-workers in Ocotepeque, Honduras.

Experience has taught me that on these daily long treks, one’s back can suffer from the constant muscular effort made in the same direction.

I have found two solutions: change one’s stride on a regular basis, and use some kind of support for the lower back. This is what I believe helped Peter (Ndungo, Nairobi, Kenya, project coordinator) and Bill.

It also helped Maria Mejias from Venezuela, and presently it is being used by Don Juan, a 61-year-old walker from Peru.

There are two belts. One I use, and the other magically finds its way to whoever needs it.

Greetings to all.

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 30 2010

How can sponsors get news in times of disaster?

Ask Sponsor ServicesQ. How can sponsors get news in times of disaster?

A. When disasters strike countries where CFCA works, we offer many ways to stay informed.

By visiting the CFCA website, you can view news reports and blog posts compiled using reports from the field, and connect to our Facebook page and Twitter account. These outlets are updated with the latest reports, photos and video we receive from the field.

When disasters occur, the first priority of the local staff is to contact sponsored members to assess damage and identify immediate needs.

As soon as we receive information from the field, CFCA publishes reports on our website, Facebook, Twitter and the CFCA blog. Sometimes, disasters can affect communication lines and it can take longer for CFCA to receive and publish information.

It is not feasible for CFCA to notify individual sponsors on the status of their sponsored friend. CFCA is only able to notify individual sponsors when a sponsored friend dies. CFCA does not publish names of sponsored victims until their sponsors have been notified.

Sep 29 2010

Chilean staff report on trapped miners

Since the collapse of Chileís San JosÈ mine that trapped 33 miners, many in the CFCA community have been keeping the miners and their families in our prayers. No sponsored members were directly affected; however, one father of a sponsored member was scheduled to work in the mine on the day that it collapsed.

A recent Yahoo news report said that the rescue efforts have made some outstanding progress.

Luis Olivares, who works for CFCA in Chile, sent this report.

“Many thanks for your concern about what is happening to our 33 countrymen who are trapped 700 meters (0.43 miles) deep in the ground. This occurrence has all of us dismayed since our country is like a big family, even though there have always been social and political differences.

“All of us Chileans are praying for the miners every day, that they may have the strength and the courage to survive, that they may not be daunted by the difficulties or setbacks during the process of their rescue.

“There are no fathers of sponsored children trapped in the mine. There was a father of one of the sponsored members who worked in that mine, but on that day he decided to change his schedule at the request of a friend. Therefore, he was saved from being trapped in the mine. This father said how terribly at fault he felt because of this.

“Some fathers of sponsored members work in other mines, especially in other small mining companies without any security at all, with lit dynamite in hand and running, with shovels and picks in subhuman conditions. Those parents only work sporadically at this job since most of them are looking for other alternatives to making money. At present the price of copper is good and the companies are using contract workers because the price of copper makes it convenient. This will change when the price of copper goes down and these workers turn to agriculture or construction.

“…I must add that the miner is a tough person, accustomed to the roughness of the job, a man who can survive in extreme conditions, accustomed to the solitude of the desert and to living in permanent risky conditions. They are very proud of this.

“For example, years ago many coal miners in the south of Chile refused to reconvert to labor as construction workers because, in their estimation, being in construction was a job for ‘delicate young ladies.’

“We pray daily that the miners may not become depressed and that they may keep up the fight. May God help them.


Luis Olivares”

Sep 27 2010

2010: The year of the bicentennial

Many Latin American countries where we work celebrated their bicentennials this year: Colombia, July 20; El Salvador, Sept. 15; Mexico, Sept. 15-16; and Chile, Sept. 18. Here is a compilation of field reports about what the bicentennial means for CFCA communities in Mexico. This year, the rising violence from drug trafficking has unfortunately affected some of the celebrations.

Mateo and his grandchildren

ìItís good to remember the heroes who gave us freedom, but it isnít good they spend so much money on the celebrations and parties when there is so much need and poverty. Instead of spending money on parties, they should perform services for those in need.î
ó Sr. Mateo, grandfather of the sponsored children pictured: Carlos, Gabriel and Luis Antonio

Note: The ìGrito of Independenceî is a traditional ritual performed every independence day. The Mexican president appears in the ZÛcalo, or central square of the capital, and shouts, ìViva, Mexico!î The crowd responds, ìViva!î

Q: Can you tell us about Mexicoís Independence Day?

A: [Cuernavaca] The bicentennial of Mexico celebrates the beginning of the rebellion against the Spanish colonial system. 2010 is a big year in Latin America. In 1810, local rebellions were taking place against the Spanish in diverse locations throughout Latin America.

A: [Guadalupe] The period known as Independence began, strictly speaking, on Sept. 16, 1810, when Miguel Hidalgo gave the ìGrito de los Dolores,î or ìCry of the Sorrowfulî and ends Sept. 27, 1821, with the arrival of the ìEjercito Trigarante,î or ìArmy of the Three Guaranteesî to the city of Mexico. The idea behind this revolutionary movement was to free the people from Spanish rule and throw off the viceroyalty. This phase ended the colonial period of Mexico.

Q: How is the country celebrating?

A: [Santa Catarina] The country celebrated with large parties: at the national level in ZÛcalo Plaza, in the Avenida Paseo de la Reforma and in the Monumento del Angel de la Independencia. Then locally, each city and town had the Grito of Independence and public festivals. In the ZÛcalo, President Calderon performed the Grito of Independence, after which followed fireworks for more than a half hour in one festival.

A: [Cuernavaca] We are celebrating with many activities, many of them cultural and civic. There will be parades, theatrical representations of the historical events, school festivals, concerts, dancers, fairs, etc.

A: [Guadalupe] There is a bicentennial torch that will travel through the 32 states of Mexico. The entire country will celebrate the military parade they have every Sept. 16. Finally, the government has created a web page devoted to the bicentennial.

Q: Are you planning special activities for the sponsored members and their families? If yes, please describe them.

Yesira, a sponsored child in Mexico

Yesira, a sponsored child, joined her grandparents for dinner on Sept. 15 and watched the bicentennial celebrations on television. They continued celebrating until early Sept. 16.

A: [Cuernavaca] The communities where the sponsored members live are planning Mexican nights ó parties with different Mexican music, dance and food organized by some families or neighbors, but most of the activities are organized by schools, municipalities or local authorities.

A: [Guadalupe] On Sept. 17, 2010, the CFCA community in Hogar Quinta Manuelita will gather for a public street party, with people bringing traditional Mexican snacks.

Q: How have the celebrations been affected by the news reports about drug-related violence in certain areas of Mexico?

A: [Cuernavaca] There are two sides: one in favor of celebrating Mexican liberation from the Spanish conquistadors and honoring the martyrs and heroes; and another side against the celebration in the midst of violence that has occurred.

A: [Merida] Although itís very calm in Merida, the heaviness is from what people hear in the news. There is fear that at any moment in the near future, this instability, this violence, can reach Merida.