Tag: Costa Rica

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.

Dec 6 2010

Costa Rican community battles heavy rains

On Nov. 8, we posted this news story about a storm that caused flooding and landslides in Costa Rica. Rafael Villalobos, CFCA project coordinator in San Jose, Costa Rica, sent us this update. Please keep the CFCA families affected by the heavy rains in your prayers.

The Jazmin community is home to Nicaraguan immigrants and Costa Rican migrants from rural areas of the country.

This is an agricultural area settled by various families who arrived seeking better opportunities in life. Nevertheless, the vast majority do not have stable work.

They have constructed humble homes with wood and old tin cans. For water, they must walk to a community tap. A community meter supplies electricity for everyone. Each family has to pay about $50 a month for electricity.

House endangered by rain

A Costa Rican house is endangered by the erosion from heavy rains.

Because of heavy rains in the past weeks, the ground has eroded considerably to the point where these families are in great danger. Many of their homes have collapsed into the ravine. Due to the solidarity among neighbors, several families are living in the same house.

Six families are currently staying in the community center.

The downpours in recent days has washed out the ground to the point where the land is split in two, isolating the families.

DoÒa Rosa, the mother of sponsored children and a great supporter of CFCA, has lost a large part of her home.

ìThe only part that remains is the small room built with the help of CFCA. I donít know what will happen to us,” she said. “The officials have asked us to leave this place because it is very dangerous, because a landslide could occur at any moment. But where will we go?î

In the midst of this pain, she remains hopeful.

ìGod will not abandon us,î she said. ìHe is with us and he has sent his angels in the face of CFCA, who are with us giving us encouragement and hope.î

Seventy families with sponsored members live in Jazmin. Nearby is the community of Tejarcillos, which has also been affected by the heavy rains.

With Christmas approaching, these situations bring to mind the birth of the child Jesus in the midst of extreme circumstances, similar to what these families are experiencing.

Oct 28 2010

Before and after: How sponsorship transformed one childís life

By Shanxi Omoniyi, CFCA web editor and writer

Milton and Lila Krainbill

Milton and Lila Krainbill

Many of us at the CFCA office in Kansas City know Milton and Lila Krainbill, and those who donít will learn pretty quickly.

Theyíre longtime sponsors and volunteers in Holton, Kan., who serve a delicious lunch to all the Kansas City staff once a year. With the employee head count at just over 130, thatís no easy feat.

But even more amazing are the Krainbillsí pictures showing the progress of their sponsored child, Heidy, in Costa Rica.

Milton and Lila took a vacation to Costa Rica in 2003, and they asked to tour the San Jose project there.

From the moment they met Heidy and her family, the Krainbills knew they couldnít lose contact with this little girl. She was one of eight children in a family struggling to overcome poverty.

The familyís galvanized tin house had gaping holes in the siding that let in rainwater. The children slept on pallets instead of beds.

ìWhen we saw the situation, we just couldnít walk away without taking on another sponsorship,î Lila said.

Seven years later, Milton and Lila returned to find a transformed family.

Read more about Heidy’s changed life

Aug 25 2010

Peace through Costa Rica

Bob Hentzen and other Walk2gether participants walk through Costa Rica.

Update: This reflection is from Rafael “Rafa” Villalobos, San Jose project coordinator, written after Walk2gether passed through Costa Rica earlier this year. The walkers have entered Ecuador and expect to be there until Sept. 14.

“Peace is passing through Costa Rica”
A Costa Rican radio station gave this title to Walk2gether. We have been waiting for it with much faith, love and hope.

Day 1

At 6 a.m., 250 families, representing all sponsored families in Costa Rica, were waiting for Walk2getherís arrival. As we waited, songs were heard: ìCome, a new day is here and amidst challenges and happiness, CFCA is growing.î ìMy heart, your heart, become one when we walk.î School bands, flags from Latin America, big banners with messages, all awaited the moment.

The walkers crossed into Costa Rica three hours later to cheers, applause, songs, prayers and hugs. A sublime moment came when Bob (CFCA president and co-founder Bob Hentzen) and his wife, Cristina, knelt and kissed the land. This was a symbol of deep love for our country and our CFCA families. We are stepping on holy land, the land of the poor who are the face of God. This land is blessed.

Bob gave words of gratitude and reminded us of the meaning of Walk2gether: ìI want to be close to the families. We walk for the most in need.î Cristina offered her love to the families and encouraged them to continue despite daily burdens. There were 15 other walkers from Guatemala and the Philippines.

We walked five kilometers from the border, PeÒas Blancas, to the Las Vueltas River. In front of us a big banner said, ìCFCA, 12,500 kilometers, bringing hope.î

Day 2

We began at 4 a.m. with a prayer asking for blessings upon our route. The heat intensified, and we rested often. This was a great opportunity for teachable moments with Bob, to share our experiences, difficulties and achievements.

Brother Jorge, CFCA Hermano Pedro project coordinator in Guatemala, shared the meaning of the CFCA logo. Later, we heard the testimony of Jafet, a scholarship student. He thanked CFCA for the outreach he received from the Costa Rica team.

Day 3

We walked from the community of Santa Rosa to the community of Liberia. Bob spoke with the youth walking with us. The teens commented on their worry of drugs, violence and lack of job opportunities. Marvis, a CFCA social worker, shared about the importance of strengthening family values.

Families from the community of Liberia came to greet the pilgrims, singing and showing beautiful banners with messages of hope and gratitude for CFCA, Bob and Cristina.

Day 4

The route planned was to walk 40 kilometers from Liberia to the Bagaces community. At kilometer 10, we had breakfast at the community of Pijije. This community has donated a piece of land for a CFCA office. Bob and Cristina inaugurated the construction of a CFCA center for sponsored members and their families. A few trees were planted as signs that we are called to offer life, love and strength.

Later, we arrived at the gym of the community of Bagaces. Some 400 people welcomed the pilgrims.

We also blessed the house built for one of the CFCA families. It was built by a group of North American students from the Saint Anselmo school (St Anselm’s College from New Hampshire) and members of the CFCA team.

March 5

We rested near the Miravalles Volcano, surrounded by spectacular views and thermal waters. Bob and Cristinaís family, Jake and Cesar, their wives and grandchildren, as well as one sponsor, joined us today.

One song has tried to gather the spirit of this pilgrimage.

Walking we make borders disappear,
We all become one on earth
One voice where hunger, cold and fear unite
And your burdens become mine
And your loneliness becomes my pain

They mix like the soil and our steps
Dignity, hope become one flag for Latin America

Jul 29 2010

Going back to school at 74

Interview with Flor de Maria by Henry Flores

Flor de MariaMy name is Flor Maria. I am 74, and I live in Costa Rica.

My father died when I was 10, and my mother took care of me after that. She made sweets, and I sold them. I have 10 children. They live in different parts of the country. Some are married, others are divorced.

Itís difficult to be an aging person in Costa Rica. Our reality is hard. I have seen other elderly women begging in the street, even sleeping there. We aging have much potential. Look at me. I am able. My hands cook rice. I can make beans. I can scrub a floor from one side to the other, but clearly I canít do it all in one day. I have to do a little at a time: one part today, another tomorrow.

I was taking classes in handicrafts when I first met CFCA. I told the social workers about my life, and they said they could support me. They give so much help for those who need it. I suffer from many illnesses, and thanks to CFCA, I receive the medicines I need. As part of CFCA, one feels supported. One feels calmer. They even help me with my school supplies and other expenses.

Flor de Maria doing her homework.Returning to school:
I left school when I was 12, but thanks be to God, I returned to school and finished sixth grade at the age of 50. The situation was difficult. Nevertheless, I always wanted to study. I always wanted a degree as a lawyer to defend others.

When I was little, my school had few seats, teachers and everything else. It was very poor. At times, they taught sewing, and they didnít have the materials. They didnít have notebooks. So, I decided to leave school. When I was in school, I remembered doing homework before and after class.

Now, I have returned to school; only now I am 74, and it isnít easy. I remember on my first day of class, one of my daughters said, ìOh, no, Mother. Donít go to school.î I simply did not pay attention to her. I want to do what I want, and I want to learn, to study; to prepare myself.

Going back to school at my age is beautiful. I feel like any other student with a desire to learn and advance. Everyone knows that I have studied, and that I donít want to leave my studies unfinished. Some tell me to drop out of school, but I just ignore them.

School has helped me a lot. I am more alert because they say my neurons have awakened.

Many women attend my school, because they teach many subjects thereósewing, tailoring, etc. I donít have a favorite class because I believe that, for students, all material should be their favorites. I am taking six classes: Spanish, science, English, civics, mathematics and social studies.

Before my tests, I drink a glass of chamomile tea because they say itís good for the nerves. This calms me. I tell myself, ìDonít get nervous. Donít get nervous. God will take care of everything else.î

Flor writingSundays, when I go to school, I get up at 5 a.m. I prepare breakfast and lunch. Later, I grab my backpack with my notebooks, and I leave early since I start at 8 a.m.

In the afternoon, around 4 p.m., I go home. I drink a cup of coffee and rest. I do homework during the week. For example, today I have some homework in Spanish. I have to answer the following questions: Who am I? What do I want to be? I am not going to answer much. What I will write is: ìI am Flor de Maria. I am 74 years old. I want to be a lawyer. Granted, this isnít up to me. This is up to God.î

Florís words of wisdom
I want to say to the youth to take advantage of their time in school because it will lead them to better work and higher pay. Your studies will keep you on the good path and keep you away from vices. Donít lose your youth. Donít lose this moment because one day, you are going to want it back like I do now.

My message for the elderly is to study to keep your neurons working, so you donít get Alzheimers!

Jun 30 2010

Francini’s joy is a letter from her sponsor

My name is Francini. I am 12 years old, and I live in in Costa Rica.

I usually get up at 6 a.m. I eat breakfast and, later in the morning, I help my mother with the house chores, especially sweeping and washing dishes.

Right now, I am in fifth grade, and my favorite subject is mathematics. I usually leave for school around noon. I walk for about 10 minutes to get to school. It is not far.

I have received some cards and letters from my sponsors, having them brings happiness and joy to my life, I am very happy to be sponsored by them and CFCA.

If my sponsors were here I would offer them my gratitude for everything that they have done and given me. They are very special.

Francini reads a letter from her sponsor

Francini reads a letter from her sponsor

Francini reads a letter from her sponsor

Have you ever wondered about the letters you receive from your friend? Read Dani Pollock’s blog post about the letter-writing process in Honduras where she is serving as a CFCA volunteer.

You can also learn more about Francini’s home life by visiting walk2gether.org.

May 21 2010

A cathedral of hope

Jerlin Julieta, 17, from Costa Rica, is a senior in high school and a CFCA scholarship student. To fulfill the service component required of all CFCA scholarship recipients, Jerlin, who graduates this year, helps the project staff in several different areas. She accompanies social workers on home visits, and she helps with office work. She is the leader in her community, especially in activities related to the other scholarship students in the area. Together, they help with monthly meetings, celebrations, etc.

Rafa Villalobos, San Jose project coordinator, said that Jerlin means a lot to the project staff. They felt especially protective of her after her father died.

“In the midst of great difficulty, she has moved on, overcoming obstacles,” Rafa said. “When Don Roberto heard her testimony during a mission awareness trip, he said her story was a cathedral of hope.”

In the video below, Jerlin talks about how the CFCA scholarship program has helped her through many obstacles in life and how receiving a good education is allowing her to achieve her dreams.

Apr 22 2010

The Rain Forest

Maria Alejandra VillalobosOne morning, as Walk2gether was winding its way through a rain forest in Costa Rica, MarÌa Alejandra Villalobos, the 11-year-old daughter of Rafa, San Jose project coordinator, was inspired by the forest’s natural beauty. She penned a poem and presented it to Bob Hentzen.

We translated her poem to English for you but included the Spanish version, too. Happy Earth Day!

The Rain Forest
by Maria Alejandra Villalobos

There is not a sound nor is life visible,
Only a symphony of rain drops with a plic plac sound …

Many colors canít be seen, only a deep natural green but, once in a while,
A little colorful flower gives life to the landscape …

There are different shades of leaves, large, small and coiled
Trees, with their chests held high, show their beauty …

The flora is striking in its natural green
And the moss offers a beautiful coat to the proud trees …

Far ahead a calf is grazing up in the mountain
A very straight pine tree firmly holds its acorns …

It is then when a soft wind can be felt,
The leaves wave from side to side …

The monkeys and squirrels are sleeping in the trees
Waiting for their reward in the form of a beautiful rainbow.

El Bosque Lluvioso
por Maria Alejandra Villalobos

No hay ruido ni tampoco se ve vida
Solo se oye la sinfonÌa de las gotas de lluvia que caen suavemente haciendo plic plac …

No se ven muchos colores, solo un verde natural, aunque, de vez en cuando,
Una florecilla colorada le da vida al lugarÖ

Hay distintas formas de hojas, grandes, cortas y enrolladas
Hay ·rboles que con su pecho en alto muestran su belleza …

La flora se resalta en su verde natural
Y los musgos verdes le dan un hermoso abrigo a los ·rboles grandes …

A lo lejos se ve una vaquita pastando en la montaÒa
Un pinito parado bien derechito mantiene con firmeza sus bellotas …

Cuando se viene una r·faga de viento las hojas, amarradas de sus raÌces,
Se ondulan de lado a lado

Los monos y las ardillas duermen en lo ·rboles
Esperando de recompensa un lindo arcoÌris.

Apr 12 2010

Shining example of compassion

Carolyn and Pedro FerradasWe recently lost Carolyn Ferradas, a dear member of our CFCA family, to breast cancer. Carolyn and her husband, Pedro, traveled Latin America, training and supporting CFCA project staff, and attending mission awareness trips when needed. When they weren’t traveling, they lived near the San Jose project in Costa Rica. Carolyn was a shining example of the true meaning of CFCA’s community of compassion.

Rafa Villalobos, San Jose project director and close friend of Carolyn and Pedro, wrote a touching tribute to our friend Carolyn.

Thank you, Carolyn.
For letting yourself be molded by the poor, just like clay in the hands of the potter
For experiencing mercy and then sharing it
For bringing happiness and hope to the faces of so many children and families
For bringing light into many homes
For instilling in yourself a path of love, radiating a goodness without limits
For teaching us through example that we are created for great things, to love and to be loved
For being so persistent in saying that we must go to the roots of CFCA for the tree of this foundation to give real fruits
For living such a painful illness with profound peace and trust in the Good Father
For continuing, from heaven, to encourage and strengthen those of us here on Earth.

Carolyn and Pedro Ferradas

As we mourn for Carolyn, we also want to remember those who have lost their battle against this disease, and offer comfort to their loved ones still remaining on Earth.

Apr 8 2010

Mothers walk together

By Christine Sementelli, CFCA sponsor.
Christine accompanied the Walk2gether team in Costa Rica for a week.

Christine Sementelli (left) and Zaida met in Costa Rica during Walk2gether and bonded over motherhoodNo matter where one travels, mothers have the same concerns, cares, thoughts, worries and desires for their children. While on my recent Walk2gether adventure in Costa Rica, I met Zaida, an extraordinary and simple mother. She resides in Bagaces, a town northwest of San Jose, Costa Rica.

She is a supporter of CFCA, which was evident by her 3:30 a.m. arrival time to the small and quaint town center for a long, tiring walk. Many are dedicated to CFCA in this town! Everyone proudly wore their blue CFCA T-shirts and baseball caps. The streets were filled with excitement, including the echoing of music from large speakers attached to the back of a car. Little did I know that this first day of walking would end up including some of the most memorable moments of my week!

I was more than ready for the walk, mentally, physically and spiritually. After completing my first 10K and enjoying a traditional Costa Rican breakfast, we began the second 10K of the day. The sun was up as we continued along the rocky, gravel-covered path through the extremely rural and poor areas of Bagaces. Out of nowhere, an arm was put around me, and I was swept into a conversation with Zaida that would last for hours.

At first there was a lot of small talk. The words that one would share when meeting a fellow mother for the first time, be it in small town U.S.A. or Bagaces, Costa Rica. What else would two moms start a conversation with besides, ìHow many children do you have?î and, ìHow old are they?î

We continued discovering more about our children. Isnít this so typical of mothers? The common bond of our children allowed us to talk for an extended period of time. I was honored to meet her youngest child, and I could see that Zaida was proud to introduce her to me, just as I would have been proud to introduce my own daughters to my new friend. As time went on, we talked about other topics, but somehow the conversation always led back to our children.

Each day on our journey, Don Roberto (Bob Hentzen) would stop and compassionately and respectfully listen to the CFCA parents tell their personal stories and their perspectives on how CFCA is helping and can better help in each community. Each community is unique and Bob knows this. He knows that one of his biggest allies is the CFCA mothers.

Zaida respectfully and confidently sat down next to Don Roberto and shared her story, her desires, her concerns and her ideas regarding her own children and the children of Bagaces supported through CFCA. Zaida is like so many mothers. We do whatever we can to make a better life for the ones we love the most.

Our day continued, and we were extremely comfortable with each other. Our energy was never-ending, even though the songs blasting from the oversized speakers were the same ones we began listening to at 3:30 in the morning. We put our arms around each other and shouted the now so familiar words, ìMi corazon, tu Corazon.” — my heart, your heart — became our battle cry. Arm in arm, we knew we had forged a friendship, a friendship based on the love for one thing all mothers around the world have in common: the love for their children.