Tag: Costa Rica

Apr 7 2012

Growing in grace and peace on trip to Costa Rica

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“Bob’s notes” are reports from CFCA President Bob Hentzen, who regularly accompanies mission awareness trip participants. You can see Bob’s full update on his Facebook page.

Heartfelt greetings from this beautiful country.

We are excited to share these days with sponsored friends, their families, sponsors and staff ó inspiring people on a very real journey.

The CFCA community in Costa Rica has made us feel very much at home. “We would like to live this mission awareness trip with a profound spirit of gratitude to the Lord of life.”

Note: Photo credits go to CFCA staff members in our project in San Jose.

In Costa Rica, we are honored to be able to work with over 7,000 families. Another 500 families have applied to belong to CFCA.

Costa Rica is considered a paradise for ecotourism. We are fortunate to experience many beautiful parts, but we also experience dramatic contrasts.

This trip is a real experience of pilgrimage, which implies joy, sadness, tiredness, pain and hope. Read more

Feb 3 2012

How mothers are integral to a sponsored child’s success

Mothers of CFCA sponsored children in Costa Rica

Mothers of CFCA sponsored children in Costa Rica.

Heredia is a rapidly industrializing community near San Jose, Costa Rica.

It’s also home to several CFCA mothers groups who are making livelihoods for their families through sewing!

Before joining the mothers groups, many of these moms did not know how to sew. Their economic situations were extremely difficult.

They live in slums, and often their homes are near river basins or dangerous areas threatened by landslides.

Since 2008, these mothers have grown in unity and self-confidence by pooling their collective talents.

Once CFCA helped some moms learn how to sew and make money from their work, they in turned reached out to other moms and mentored them in their handiwork.

Today all 180 mothers in the Heredia groups can sew. They make uniform shirts and rain capes for schoolchildren, working from their homes.

“I feel very motivated,” said Maribel, a single mother raising two CFCA sponsored children. “The money I get (from sewing clothes) is an income for my children and me. This is really a great blessing.”

Read the rest of these mothers’ story.

Aug 31 2011

Recipe from Costa Rica – olla de carne y verduras

Olla de carne y verduras in Costa Rica

Olla de carne y verduras, or a pot of meat and vegetables, fresh and steaming from Costa Rica!

CFCA serves more than 7,000 sponsored children and elderly in Costa Rica. Our staff members there sent us this recipe for olla de carne y verduras, roughly translated: a pot of meat and vegetables.

This recipe is for four to five people. See the recipe

Aug 9 2011

CFCA sponsor donates $8,000 for 8,000-mile walk

Richard Ryder, a longtime CFCA sponsor, sent us this beautiful letter and an $8,000 donation ñ $1 for every mile of Walk2gether, which CFCA President Bob Hentzen finished on June 6. Richard graciously gave us permission to share his letter with you, our CFCA community.

Richard Ryder, CFCA sponsor, with Jesus, Kimberline and the children's mother in Costa Rica

From left are Jesus; Richard Ryder; Kimberline, Jesus’ sister; and the children’s mother. Richard sponsors both Jesus and Kimberline, and this picture was taken on his mission awareness trip to Costa Rica.

I meant to send this check when Bob finished his 8,000-mile “miracle” walk, but time got away from me.

I first met Bob on my mission awareness trip to Costa Rica in November 2009 to visit my sponsored “young man,” Jesus.

Bob was instrumental in helping me add Jesus’ sister, Kimberline, to my sponsorship, and I’m forever grateful.

When traveling with Bob on our mission trip, I realized I was in the presence of a modern-day St. Francis, only his name was Roberto.

It was then that I told Bob I wanted to sponsor his walk for $1 per mile. I have kept Bob, Cristina and family in my daily prayers.

Please pass on my prayers and thoughts to Bob.

God bless Bob and CFCA.

Richard Ryder

P.S. Bob can decide where this check can support.

May 26 2011

Costa Rican moms receive affirmation, dignity from CFCA staff

The CFCA project in San Jose, Costa Rica, recently conducted an “encuentro” or gathering with some mothers of sponsored children to emphasize family unity, promote dignity and strengthen their self-esteem. Jean Carlo Arias, CFCA programs director in San Jose, offers his vision of this gathering.

“Be happy, woman; God has made you a life spring.”

Mothers group encuentro in Costa Rica

Mothers form into small discussion groups during the CFCA encuentro in Costa Rica.

With this phrase by a local CFCA social worker, Leticia Salazar, we gathered more than 100 mothers of sponsored children from the community of Desamparados, southeast from San Jose.

We wanted to motivate them, offer them a way to participate and encourage them in their roles as pillars in their families (most of them were single mothers).

Through motivational lectures and reflections, we tried to show these mothers a vision of the important role they have as mothers in the world and in CFCA’s Hope for a Family program.

“Understanding our real value as women, created as instruments of God to give life, strengthens us very much,” said Lizeth, the mother of sponsored children Yuri Fabiola and Yeudi Antonio.

Most of these mothers live in neighborhoods with economic problems as well as family disintegration.

This is why we try to increase their self-esteem so they can see themselves with love and as agents of change in their communities.

“A mother wears many hats,” said Marilu, the mother of sponsored child Elena. “She can be a doctor, psychologist, teacher, nurse, and adviser. She also is capable of fighting bravely for her children’s well-being. At the same time, we women are willing to progress, become professionals and be successful, in spite of the places and difficult realities we live in.”

Their dignity and value as mothers were strengthened in this meeting, increasing hope in their own homes.

“In this gathering, I learned to value life even more, recognizing that my children are not mistakes,” said Karol, mother of sponsored child Christopher. “They are treasures.”

May 6 2011

CFCA in Costa Rica learns from mothers group experience

Costa Rica mothers groups

John Arias Madriz, member of the CFCA-Costa Rica team, center, leads a prayer in the mothers group in a community served by the Santa Ana project during a training trip to El Salvador.

Mother’s Day is May 8. We believe in the wisdom of mothers and work to provide opportunities for mothers to use their wisdom for the good of their children and families.

In the past year, CFCA in Costa Rica has been exploring mothers groups as a vehicle to encourage the participation of mothers of sponsored children.

“Our mothers come from difficult realities,î said Rafael Villalobos, the Costa Rica coordinator. ìMost are single mothers and live in violent environments. Our primary goal is to create groups where the mothers identify with each other, learn to solve their problems and live with peace and solidarity.î

Earlier this year, staff members from the Costa Rica visited CFCA communities in El Salvador to learn from Salvadoran mothers groups.

“During our visit to El Salvador, we saw how women are empowered,” Villalobos said. “They have voice and vote in the decisions made in CFCA. This is important because mothers are no longer just recipients of benefits. They are building their childrenís future.”

Since they began in 2001 in Hyderabad, India, CFCA mothers groups have evolved and spread to other parts of the CFCA world. They were introduced two years ago in El Salvador.

“We see a bigger sense of belonging to CFCA among mothers of sponsored children who are part of our mothers groups,” said Yessenia Alfaro, CFCA coordinator in El Salvador.

“This model has enabled the mothers to be active participants in building a better future for their children, and to discover their hidden talents and put them to the service of their own community.”

The CFCA mothers group is a community self-help group that offers mothers of sponsored children an opportunity to organize themselves and participate in the planning and decision making of CFCA benefits and activities.

Mothers in Hyderabad now have choices about their childrenís benefits, and microfinance programs offered by the groups provide access to loans for small business startups, college tuition or emergency expenses.

The visit to El Salvador has allowed the Costa Rica team to see the potential of mothers groups as a tool for families to build a path to self-sufficiency.

“We returned home and shared the beauty and the value of mothers becoming the leaders of their sponsorship program, their communities and their childrenís pathway in life,” Villalobos said.

May 4 2011

CFCA staff worker honors colleagues in Costa Rica

Jessie Leader-Kirk works in the child services department at CFCA’s headquarters in Kansas City. She recently went on a mission awareness trip to Costa Rica.

I had the privilege of spending a week with the staff of CFCA in Costa Rica. I never thought I would gain as much as I did from this experience.

My first encounter with the staff was at the airport in Costa Rica. This was my first time traveling internationally, and I did not know what to expect.

Jessie in Costa Rica

From left are Santiago, Jessie Leader-Kirk and Vanessa during Jessie’s mission awareness trip to Costa Rica. Santiago and Vanessa are sponsored through CFCA.

When I walked out of the airport Javier and Emmanuel were there to greet me, and a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. I felt safe!

The next morning I met the rest of the staff and started my adventure in Costa Rica.

I was impressed by the staff’s organization. Everyone had their role and knew it well.

The effort behind the scenes was amazing. We left to visit to a community where sponsored members live.

As we pulled into the community the sponsored members were there to meet us. Maureen and Jackeline did a wonderful job translating for the sponsors that did not speak Spanish.

As all the sponsors were greeted by the sponsored members, the staff was hustling to have everything set up for the sponsors. As the sponsors made it to their destination, Jean Carlo had a sound system set up and Ellie the translator was there to greet us.

Ellie from Costa Rica

Ellie the translator speaks to sponsors during the mission awareness trip.

As time went by, I met more and more staff members. Two staff members shared their personal experiences with me.

Luis, one of the social workers, shared that his life has been threatened on more than one occasion. Could you imagine working with the fear that your life could be taken at any moment?

Leticia, another social worker, said one day while she was walking to visit one of the sponsored members, a lady walked up to her and said, ìI like your shoes.î

Right after the lady said that, someone else walked up behind her and pressed something in her back.

Leticia said that she never turned around to see what it was, but just started praying and kept walking until the lady left her alone and she was safe.

After hearing these experiences I looked at the social workers in a different light. I admire their strength and dedication to the sponsored members.

The love for the children really stood out among all the staff. It was especially heartwarming to watch Rafael Villalobos, project coordinator in San Jose, and his interaction with the children.

You could tell that each child had a special relationship with the staff members in their area.

I was able to gain perspective on the great work CFCA does, and I was also able to gain an unspeakable amount of respect for the staff in Costa Rica.

The staff members in Costa Rica face many more challenges in their daily work life than I could ever imagine facing. I have never been around more inspiring people.

Words cannot express my gratitude and respect for my coworkers in the field. Thank you for the life-changing experience you gave me.

Feb 9 2011

‘I never felt so loved and appreciated in my life’: A sponsor’s trip to Costa Rica

Georgina Hartwell sent us this evaluation after she and her husband, Henry, went on a mission awareness trip to Costa Rica. While there they visited Steven, their sponsored friend. We are sharing this evaluation with their permission.

Steven's family

From left are Georgina; Steven, the Hartwells’ sponsored friend; Steven’s sister, Noelia; Steven’s mother, Jolane; and Henry.

Did you find that the orientation and information provided by the CFCA project staff during the trip adequately described the host country and CFCA’s work there?


Would you recommend a CFCA mission awareness trip to others?


Why or why not?

It was up close and personal. We saw our money at work.

Please describe your impressions of the trip and how the trip affected you personally.

I cried a lot. I never felt so loved and appreciated in my life (I’m 68). It was more than I expected. I guess I thought we would view much from afar. We did not. We were so very much “with the people.”

Also, on the trip we celebrated our 47th anniversary. The women of Desamparados surprised us with a beautiful, huge, delicious cake ñ enough to share with all!

Hartwells' anniversary cake

The Hartwells’ anniversary cake.

Any additional comments or suggestions?

The week was packed full of activities but I never felt pressured with a time schedule. Yes, there was a schedule but the staff and our wonderful driver, Carlos, always managed to be a bit flexible with a smile!

God bless all aspects and people of CFCA. With the five enclosed brochures you sent us, I will do my best to get five new sponsors.

Jan 4 2011

A letter to the Walk2gether camper

Here is a tongue-in-cheek post from Rafael Villalobos, CFCA project coordinator in San Jose, Costa Rica. Rafa joined CFCA President and Co-founder Bob Hentzen on Walk2gether and made friends with the iconic Walk2gether camper, a vehicle that has accompanied Bob since the walk began. The camper is with Bob right now in Peru.

Hello, dear friend camper:

I remember the first time I saw your picture. You looked good. Don Roberto (Bob) told me, ìItís old, like me, but it still runs.î

Walk2gether camper

CFCA Walk2gether camper.

They told us your name: Walk2gether Camper.

We waited for you happily. I fondly remember March 1, when you arrived in Costa Rica together with the walkers. Everyone watched you with respect.

You came loaded with luggage, lots of water, tools, spare tire, food, kitchen supplies, clothes for the walkers, medicine, electric generator, etc.

You looked tired and beaten, but in your lights, I noticed an immense joy.

With your flashers, you animated the children and sang with us, ìWhile walking, borders disappear. We become of one land, one cry for justice, and we blend together like the land blends when we make footprints while we walk. We join dignity and hope in one flag Ö Latin America.î

You drove thousands of miles on your tires. The logos and banners you wore indicated you were not simply a camper. ì12,500 kilometers bringing hope.î

You were like Noahís Ark, crossing oceans to bring hope and blessings to all the villages.

I remember one rainy afternoon when you shared what it means to be part of CFCA: Read more about the Walk2gether camper

Dec 30 2010

Family stands strong while mother is away

When Kenia was 14, her mother moved to Costa Rica with Keniaís oldest brother to find work and left Kenia and two brothers behind. For the past two years, Kenia has been raised by her brother, Juan Carlos. Kenia and Juan Carlos are sponsored through CFCAís Hope for a Family program. Kenia talks about how the separation has affected her and her family.

How did you feel when your mother and older brother left Nicaragua for Costa Rica?

It was very sad and very difficult. But because of the country’s economic situation, they were forced to leave.

How do you feel now?

I have had to get used to it since, even though she is far away from us, she calls us always and is always waiting for us to call. It is very difficult, but life is like that. One never thinks that these things could happen.

Raul, Juan Carlos, and Kenia

From left are Raul, Juan Carlos and Kenia.

Do you miss your mother?

Yes, because she has been a very good mother, a fighter, who in spite of all that has happened, has always fought for her children’s well-being.

I always imagine that the New Year or some other vacation period is coming so that she can return and we can be together again.

Do you have family to care for you, or only Juan Carlos?

Yes, thank God that besides my brothers, Raul and Carlos, some people will give me support and strength to carry on. They are not relatives but it is as though they were. They are always watching out for me, and I am very grateful. They are the couple who are pastors of the church that I attend.

How do you help your brother at home?

We will help each other, whether with household chores, which we divide among ourselves, or with our studies with which my brother Carlos helps me as I help my younger brother Raul. So we have learned that despite things that happen, love and the unifying element of family always prevail.

Where do you go to school?

I study at an institute about four blocks from my house. I am in the fourth year of secondary school, which is a little difficult for me, but with some effort I will make headway because our lives are like a race in which you have to struggle to win the prize.

What do you want to be in your life?

God willing, next year I will graduate from secondary school. At first I wanted to study to be a teacher, but also to be a nurse, and I have decided to study nursing.

What are your dreams and hopes?

To see myself fulfilled, to obtain a professional career, work and help my mother and little brother, since my mother has been that source of strength in those moments when I feel that I cannot continue. I remember what she does for me and I continue on.

Other wishes are to have the opportunity of knowing different countries, to mix well with people and to have new friends.

Read the story about Kenia’s brother, Juan Carlos.