Mission awareness trip to Chile
Oct. 24 ñ Nov. 1, 2009
Iím told that the word ìChileî means ìland where the earth ends.î Staff reports that Chile is considered ìFirst in Inequityî in Latin America, with 42 percent of resources owned by less than 10 percent of the people. There are so many marginalized families, whose only shelter is a one-room wooden structure. A recurring theme is violence to women and children. Our CFCA families strive to make it on very modest income. According to staff, 70 percent of mothers in the Chile project are single heads of family.
A day with our sponsored elderly
CFCA currently serves 566 aging sponsored friends in subproject D. Most live precariously in houses constructed with nontraditional materials. Some of them rent a room in another familyís home. Only six live in homes for the elderly. The aging sponsored friends receive a $103 monthly subsidy from the Chilean government. However, the money is not enough to cover basic needs such as nutrition and clothing. CFCA provides daily breakfast, lunch and snacks for them at Casa de DÌa, a facility attached to the Valparaiso project office.
Bob serenades the sponsored aging during lunch.
At the Claretian Sisters facility at El Cerro El Litre, the elderly can attend different kinds of workshops. Every year, the subproject offers a field trip to give them the opportunity to share their talents and stories, and also just to have a fun time.
Testimony of Maria Cena, a 14-year participant in the program: ìMy dream as a girl was to have loving parents, and I achieved it. Iím also grateful for excellent teachers and social workers. At age 80, I now play guitar and sing in our choir.î
Free clinics serve health needs
After sightseeing in Valparaiso, the group visited Consultorio de Salud las CaÒas. Consultorios de Salud are free health clinics created by the Chilean health system to serve the less fortunate. ValparaÌso has 13 consultorios in the hills of the city. About 11,000 people benefit from the services. Not only do these clinics provide medical and dental care to our sponsored children and aging, but they also make CFCA aware of other families that could benefit from the sponsorship program.
Sister Sara at the El Litre CFCA facility devotes herself to the aging and to the most rejected street people of Valparaiso. Their source of warmth at night is the dogs with which they sleep. Relying completely on Godís providence, her team of volunteers provides lunch each day for more than 100 people on the street. She receives donations of food and clothing.
Key programs for women
The training program was created in 1992 to help the mothers of sponsored children learn skills that would allow them to save money and increase the household income. The program holds workshops in tailoring, weaving and hairdressing, and provides supplies, transportation costs and child care for participating mothers. Every year, around 230 mothers benefit from the training program.
The CFCAís Womenís Program was created in 1993 to provide a space for the mothers to be better informed about domestic violence and its impact on their relationship with their children. The program offers workshops on self-esteem, child-mother relationships and formation for all members of the family. Around 200 people per year attend the workshops.
The fishermen and women of La Caleta
La Caleta de Pescadores Portales ValparaÌso is the biggest fishing cove in the region. Approximately 200 families make their living from the fishing activities here. Family fishing is not only a dangerous job, but it also presents big challenges, such as a lack of government assistance, climate changes, high cost of gasoline and overwhelming competition from the commercial fishing industry. Here, fishing is done both with nets and hooks. Some of the sponsored childrenís mothers work in this cove as fishhook baiters.
Don Juan, head of the fishermenís union, explains in Spanish and good English the life and lore of family fishing in Chile.
Cabildo, one of the communities served by subproject RUR, earned its name from the indigenous people known as Cabildos. Subproject RUR was created in 2001 to serve the rural communities of the ValparaÌso region. This is the biggest subproject of the ValparaÌso project with 1,258 children and 116 aging. The mid-sized Las Cenizas copper mine in Cabildo is owned by Chilenos who are seriously working on minimizing ecological impact of the mine.
Thank you for joining us in this wonderful experience! Cristina and I are looking forward to a couple of days ìon the farmî in San Lucas before heading for Costa Rica on Nov. 7. We shall be with you in spirit, song and prayer.