By John Fredy Arango, Unbound staff member in Medellin, Colombia
John Fredy Arango, an Unbound staff member in Medellin, Colombia, walks though one of the neighborhoods he serves.
Sponsored children take part in an Unbound activity in Colombia.
The Colombian government has been in conflict with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the country’s largest guerrilla movement, since the 1960s, as well as other armed groups. More than 50 years of violence has had an impact on people from all parts of the country. Unbound staff member John Fredy Arango reflects on the recent evolution of the conflict.
I was barely in my mother’s womb when the echoes of war were already shaking my body. I was born and grew up, I became a young man and I heard those sounds of war again, but this time they were stronger. I saw how they were numbing the hopes and neutralizing the dreams of those around me.
Nathalie helps her mother, Martha, make empanadas.
Colombia has a long history of violence between government forces and militant groups. But increasingly there seems to be hope of a more lasting peace between the Farc rebels and the government, with the possibility that a deal could be signed later this month and the implementation overseen by the UN, according to the BBC. Though peace may be close, the decades-long conflict has created a huge impact, especially for families like Martha’s.
Martha and her family are originally from Antioquia, Colombia, and are part of a large number of internally displaced people.
Director of global strategy, Paul Pearce, left, walks with a group of mothers in Cartagena, Colombia.
Recently, Jose Rodriguez, project director for Colombia at CFCA headquarters in Kansas, traveled to Colombia to visit with mothers of sponsored children.
During the workshop, mothers gathered to answer a question: “What is your dream?”
Many women had the opportunity to share what they were interested in pursuing and CFCA had the chance to help them make it happen.
Watch the video to learn more about how CFCA becomes a catalyst for these women to achieve their dreams.
Watch the video!
Aura and her son Alexander, who is sponsored through the Hope for a Family program.
What do you get when you cross CFCA, a computer and a mother willing and ready to make a difference for her and her family?
Read more to find out!
Here are just a couple of the awesome ways that sponsored children, aging friends and their families serve as agents of change in their local communities!
1) Fathers of sponsored children honored for work with blood donations
The CFCA-Antipolo staff was recognized at the Dugong Bayani Awards for efforts to save lives through blood donations.
CFCA-Antipolo was among the national recipients of the Dugong Bayani Awards.
“Dugo” means blood, and “Bayani” means hero.
The award is a special recognition given to a group or organization by the Philippine Blood Center of the Department of Health. The award honors heroism in saving lives through blood donations.
Since 2002, CFCA-Antipolo has held blood drives with the families and the community.
Some communities are partnering with the Philippine National Red Cross and some with the Philippine Blood Center of the health department.
Many sponsored youth and their families, as well as project staffers, are blood donors. The ERPAT fathers groups often spearhead the blood donation activities. (ERPAT stands for Empowerment and Reaffirmation of Paternal Abilities. The groups were started by dads of CFCA sponsored children.) Read more
Andres in Colombia holds one of the turtles he crafts out of recycled materials.
My name is Andres, and I have been sponsored for six years through CFCA in Colombia.
My father works as a bricklayer and my mother is a housekeeper. My father works by seasons, and sometimes we do not have any income to sustain our family.
One day I had a great idea. I went with my mother to the CFCA office where she met with her mothers group. I like to go and help her during the meetings. At the meeting, I met a mother who knows how to make crafts. She was making many things with plastic, and I was very curious about it. Read more of Andres’ story
A Chinese proverb says it’s better to light one candle than curse the darkness.
We can find a modern-day parallel in a community in Cali, Colombia, where families in the CFCA program found it’s better to take action and plant a tree to help the environment!
Yeraldin, CFCA staffer in Colombia and CFCA scholar, plants seeds for a future tree in an environmental campaign to help fight against drought. Yeraldin was sponsored through CFCA as a child.
For several years now, Colombia has suffered from a drought that has caused the nation’s government to urge citizens to conserve water (see this article for more information).
This particular CFCA community in Cali has had limited water supply as a result, and CFCA mothers groups met to discuss the problem. Read more
Celina’s empanadas from Colombia … mmm!
Celina is a mother to two sponsored children in Colombia, and for her, empanadas are her livelihood. She took out a loan through her mothers group to start a business selling empanadas and coffee. (Unbound serves more than 22,000 sponsored children and elderly in Colombia.)
Celina used the income from her business to purchase her first home.
Celina shares her recipe with us, and we invite you to try her delicious empanadas. Enjoy! Get the recipe
Parents of CFCA sponsored children stand proudly with their entrepreneurship diplomas.
CFCA believes strongly in the creativity and talents of sponsored families and partners with families throughout the world to unlock their potential.
In Bogota, Colombia, every Friday, leaders from each parents group meet at the CFCA office to participate in a “livelihood projects” class to learn techniques on how to successfully develop their talents and skills into sources of income for their families.
CFCA staffers utilized a local government program focused in the development of professional formation programs.
The main goal is to bring business education to family members of sponsored friends, and have these individuals spread their knowledge to fellow parents in their group.
CFCA staffers have seen many changes in families thanks to this class. Parents have diversified their families’ sources of income and also further developed their skills and talents. Read more
By Celina, mother of two sponsored children in Colombia
Celina and her daughter standing in front of their new home.
My goal has always been to have my own house. That was my biggest dream, but I could never save enough money to buy a home.
When my children joined the program, Elvia, an Unbound staff member, started to talk about mothers groups and how we could develop our skills.
We made a poster with our dreams, and I chose to use a picture of a house. Elvia told us that we can reach our goals as long as we establish clear goals.
After that meeting, I started to think about the first step in reaching my dreams. I started to attend Unbound workshops frequently to gain motivation.
I was unemployed, and we needed to have a bank account with money before we qualified for government-subsidized housing. I had just 50.000 pesos (about $28 US) in my pocket. I asked the bank about the process and learned I needed 60.000 pesos (about $33 US) to open a bank account. Read more