Tag: Cinquera

May 3 2010

Francisco succeeds through hard work and sponsorship

Francisco has been sponsored by the Adloff family for 15 years. He shares his story of how, through their support, he was able to overcome his familyís poverty, obtain an education, and become a leader in his community.

FranciscoMy name is Francisco Amilcar, and I live in the community of Cinquera. I am 23 years old and I have been in CFCA since 1995. My mother is Rubenia Marina, 56, and my dad is Juan Francisco, 59.

My dad has always worked in agriculture, and my mother has always taken care of the house. I have 11 siblings: six brothers and five sisters. The youngest one is 13 and is also sponsored by CFCA. My brother Jaime and I are the only ones who made it into university. The rest of my siblings have moved on with their lives. Some work in agriculture, some are housewives and some work in construction.

Raising so many children was difficult for my parents and us. We had to sleep in pairs in one bed. Siblings donít always get along: I remember getting in pretty good fights with them, but at the same time, it is great growing up with many siblings. The older siblings help the little ones and many times you are more confident with them than with your own parents.

I remember I was in third grade when the local priest and the local catechist came into the classroom and called up all of the children. We were few because, at that moment, few families had returned to resettle the town after the civil war (read about the history of Cinquera ). We were told about the possibility of this sponsorship program. They took our pictures. One year later, we were called to the first meeting and started to receive our first benefits.

One of the most difficult things for me was when I finished junior high. We had no high school in the area so I had to travel to the closest town. My parents could not pay the whole cost, but it was then when the CFCA staff determined that we could use our benefits to cover as much as possible the costs of our education.

I was 14 when I finished ninth grade. For high school, I had to travel 11 kilometers on a dirt and rock road to Tejutepeque, probably about two hours on foot. Transportation service is very limited. Back in those days, we only had three buses the whole day. We had no problem early in the morning because we used to leave town around 6 a.m. But getting back to Cinquera was always a challenge. Many times we could not catch the bus. We had to walk, despite rain and hunger — all we had to eat during the day was some fruit or bread.

In twelfth grade, we had to bring a typewriter to class. I did not have one. There was a handcraft and painting shop at which I became an artisan. We used to sell those products to tourists or vendors. I made some money and bought my typewriter. The machine is in very good condition because I took such a good care of it. I didnít even want to lay it on the floor. I took care of it because I paid for it.

I finished high school in 2003. The idea for most of the young people at that time was to find a job. Most go to the U.S. to work to help their families. I decided to study computer engineering. But the costs became more expensive. The municipality helped us by providing transportation. They transported us in the city trash truck, but we were happy for the opportunity.

There were times when classmates tried to humiliate me because I was poor and came from a small town and for wearing the same clothes over and over. Of course, we did not have enough to buy new clothes so we always used the same ones.

The teachers started to pay attention to me because I always tried to be good in class, especially in math. My grades were high, too. They selected me to be a math instructor for some classes. They eliminated my monthly tuition, and I had full access to the libraries, computers, Internet. Last year, I graduated as a computer engineer from the National University.

Francisco teaching computer classes.I am currently working at the Reconstruction and Rural Development Association. I am a computer teacher at the small computer lab they have created where local residents come and learn. I get a small salary for this.

My dreams for the future are to give back to my community; to work for the development of Cinquera. I have received a scholarship for a masterís degree in engineering, and I am planning on doing it. Just like the community helped me, I want to help it. Mine is not a dream in which I make money. It is a dream in which my community is well. I also want to form a family, work hard and provide for them.

The story of my sponsors and me is one that canít be forgotten. Their sponsorship is like a family relationship. They have seen me grow. We have exchanged letters almost every month, and they have always been caring to me.

They are Mary and Bob Adloff, and their daughters, Kara and Dayna. They have been able to know me through letters, and I have been able to know them. I know about their daughtersí education, as well as Bobís and Maryís occupations. They always kept me informed in their letters. They sent me photos. I know my sponsors are a very united family. They will always be in my heart.

I remember them telling me how much they enjoyed the drawings I used to make in my letters, and later they told me that my drawings were framed. They sent me pictures showing that.

Their help was invaluable. The benefits I have received from them have been very good: food, celebrations, shoes. As a matter of fact, the shoes I received from CFCA have been the ones I have used all the time. I donít recall ever buying new shoes. The ones I am wearing right now I received from CFCA. We have used the benefits very well. They have been of great help for me and my family.

If I had my sponsors Bob and Mary in front of me, I would tell them, ìThank you.î I would hug them because I feel we have been giving each other hugs in our letters. I would tell them as much about me as I could, and I would tell them that God will bless them just as much as they have been blessing me.

You can learn more about Francisco and his sponsors on our website.

Mar 31 2010

Cleaning Cinquera

After hiding in the mountains for 12 years during El Salvadorís civil war, residents of Cinquera returned in 1992 to find their beloved town destroyed. They rebuilt the community, and with the help of CFCA sponsorship, families began again to dream of the future.

Today, CFCA sponsors 500 children, youth and aging in Cinquera, and the town is a model of community cooperation and pride. Sponsored members and their families, organized by CFCA Coordinator Blanca Aminta, participate in a monthly cleanup, a reflection of their unity and love of the place they call home.

More about Cinquera, El Salvador:
Read more about the cleaning campaign in Cinquera.
View before and after photos of Cinquera during cleanup day.
Read a history of Cinquera.
See some photos of Cinquera that help explain its history.

Mar 31 2010

Bells and brooms are signs of a community rebuilding

Pablo Alvarenga is one of the original residents of Cinquera, El Salvador. The town was destroyed during the countryís civil war from 1980-1992. After the war, Pablo and other families returned to rebuild their community. Pablo was one of the community leaders who welcomed CFCAís support in 1992.

Today, CFCA sponsors 500 children, youth and aging members in Cinquera. Pablo recently recounted the townís history and CFCAís role in its rebirth, for Henry Flores, director of the El Salvador communications center.

PabloMy name is Pablo Alvarenga Escobar, and I am native to the community of Cinquera. I work with Christian communities in Cinquera. My main focus is to strengthen the work of the small Christian communities, trying to bring them the Gospel of Jesus and the spirit that he wanted us to have.

My work as a catechist started in 1960, and I worked until 1979. On May 9, 1983, a huge attack by the armed forces against the rebel forces forced everybody to abandon their homes, belongings and Cinquera. To save their lives, many left for the mountains, leaving everything behind.

After the attack, this town stayed empty. We say it was a ghost town. A few days later, armed forces started to bomb the area and ground forces broke into the town and finished the destruction.

After Cinquera was destroyed and abandoned, nature started to cover the ruins of the houses. When we returned, Cinquera did not look like a town. You could not see anything. It was like looking at the forest.

The new Cinquera church with the original bell tower

The new Cinquera church with the original bell tower

The church was destroyed, except for the front walls and the bell tower. There were big trees inside the church property. We all agreed that we had to keep the remaining walls and bell tower. We knew that we were going to rebuild the church in the same place, and these ruins would be a sign of hope and a reminder of our history.

When we began rebuilding our lives here, we needed a way to call people for community gatherings. That is what church bells are for: to call the people to gather. But we did not have any bells.

Our people are creative, and some members of the community said that they had seen a 750-pound bomb that did not explode. They said, ìDon¥t worry. The rebel forces deactivated the bomb and made a new bomb that they used against the army, so it is inactive now.î

Many of us walked far to get to the place where the bomb was. Children, youth, men and women helped bring the heavy bomb. We carried it, we rolled it, we pushed it and we pulled it until we got it into town. We placed it in front of the church, standing it up for the sound to be better, and it worked. It sounded so loud!

The church bells are actually old, diffused bombs. The third bell does not sit by these two.

The church bells are actually old, diffused bombs. The third bell does not sit by these two.

Sometime after that, we found another bomb and later, one more. So this is why we now have three of them in front of the church.

At the end of the war, we had absolutely nothing. It was then when the solidarity of a man named Bob (CFCA President and Co-founder Bob Hentzen) came here. He used to walk around the town. He played the guitar and told us about CFCA. We all got excited. This was like a boat in the middle of the ocean for us.

The impact of the sponsored members and their families in the community is great, and this is because of the leadership behind CFCA here in town. CFCA has local staff working for the communityópeople who have a heart for the town, a love for others and a great sense of solidarity.

One of them is the CFCA social worker Blanca. She has been leading the families in different groups to clean the town.

This is why our town looks very nice.

More about Cinquera, El Salvador:
Read more about the cleaning campaign in Cinquera.
View before and after photos of Cinquera during cleanup day.
Meet the Blanca and the CFCA families who clean Cinquera in this video.
See some photos of Cinquera that help explain its history.