Tag: Costa Rica

Dec 23 2009

Walk2gether begins in one week

The walking begins in one week!

On Dec. 29, CFCA President Bob Hentzen will embark on Walk2gether, an 8,000-mile, 16-month journey through 12 countries in Latin America.

CFCA staff and BobExcitement and anticipation are building as families and CFCA staff in Guatemala prepare to bid Bob and his fellow travelers “Buen Viaje.” More than 65 sponsors participating in the mission awareness trip will also be on hand for the launch.

Meanwhile, CFCA staff in Kansas gave Bob an official send-off when he visited the headquarters in late November. Read more here.

Check out the new Walk2gether website, where you can follow Bob on an interactive map, and explore links to his electronic journals and to videos, slideshows and stories about the realities, people and activities in the countries he visits. You can also send messages of support and encouragement that Bob will share with the families of sponsored members and the CFCA staff in the communities he visits.

Walk2gether is a way to help counterbalance the isolation of people living in poverty, and show them that someone cares. The walk will help build community and strengthen the bonds of unity between CFCA’s sponsored members, sponsors and staff. It will also symbolize and promote the unity of countries, races, languages, genders and creeds. Visit Walk2gether.org to learn more.

Dec 3 2009

Bob’s travel notes to Costa Rica

Mission awareness trip to Costa Rica
Nov. 7-14, 2009

CFCA has been working to build hope for families in Costa Rica since 1991 and as of November 2009, we have 6,099 children sponsored together with 436 aging. Currently, 716 children and aging are on the waiting list for sponsorship in Costa Rica.

Reality check
According to staff, there is a very high index of domestic violence in Costa Rica, including abuse of women and children. The country has excellent medical care but itís heavily concentrated in the capital. Many rural areas have big challenges with dysentery and typhoid fever. In addition, residents here face a high cost of living and marginalization of immigrants.

Sunday, Nov. 8óAlajuelaóSubproject Sabanilla
On Sunday, we visited Sabanilla. A strong earthquake in January 2009 destroyed crops and forced businesses to close. One year ago, CFCA began to support this community.

The trip through the coffee plantation was very pleasant. However, we ran into a terrific storm that made the path down the mountain very muddy and slippery. It became a great exercise in community, getting everyone down the mountain safely. We all survived, albeit wet and muddy.

Sponsors in the Guatemala rain

Down the road in the community of Los Angeles, we enjoyed a wonderful lunch and show with all the families in this region. The mothers worked all day yesterday and from 3 a.m. to prepare all the food and the hall for this special occasion.

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Sep 11 2009

Notes from the Field #10 – Costa Rica

When Lilliana Seskis, Sponsor Services phone team manager, went on a mission awareness trip, she was in the midst of the very beautiful Costa Rican countryside. But it wasn’t the scenery that impressed her the most about her trip, it was witnessing the dedication of the Costa Rica staff members. Through their hard work and endless support, they have become a second family to sponsored members.

Watch more Notes from the Field.

Sep 10 2009

A day in the life of a CFCA social worker

By Leticia Salazar Fonseca, CFCA social worker in Costa Rica

Leticia delivering sponsor letters children in Desamparados
Leticia delivering mail to children in Desamparados

My name is Leticia, and I have been serving CFCA for more than eight years. It is early in the morning, and I get up thanking our Lord for another day of life. I put my life in His merciful hands as I prepare a cup of coffee.

To be part of the CFCA team has been an immense blessing for me. We feel that what we do is not just a job: it is a mission in our life. I get ready to visit communities in the morning and to distribute benefits in the afternoon. Today we will visit the communities of Desamparados, Los Alpes and La Managuita.

Los Alpes
In our home visits, we offer hope and dignity to all our sponsored families. This is why, early in the morning, we arrive at the community of Los Alpes. With the help of the mothers, we prepared breakfast for a little over 100 sponsored children and, while we do that, they all are talking about the trip to the water park they enjoyed last week. They had the opportunity to share with their friends and to enjoy the pools, horse rides, trails, etc. We had 12 buses full of smiling angels who waved at anybody who would look at them. To get out of their violent and aggressive communities and to be able to enjoy a healthy environment has a great meaning and value for them.

Children eating breakfast prepared for them by the mothers and CFCA social workers.While we were with the children, we were notified that one of our sponsored elderly, Jose, had lost his home and belongings in a fire. Apparently robbers broke into his house the night before, while he slept at his relativesí, and decided to burn it to erase any evidence. We went to visit Jose and found him sadly looking through the rubble of his house and remembering his 50 years of marriage.

Last year, Joseís wife passed away, and this has him very depressed, ìI lost little things and memories that one saves,î Jose said with tears in his eyes. ìGod loves me; he did not let me die in this fire. No matter what happens, we must trust Him, because better things will come.î

Jose lost eight guitars he handmade. ìThe material things burned down but the formula to make my guitars cannot be taken away, it is saved in my memory,î Jose told us. Amidst the pain, it is incredible to see the solidarity of the sponsored families in the area who were already trying to find clothing and goods to help Jose. CFCA is already finding ways to support him, too.
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Aug 11 2009

August isn’t back-to-school month for everyone

As U.S. students prepare for the onset of school, students in other countries have already taken mid-terms.

That’s right. For students in many countries where CFCA works, school does not start in August or September.

The school year in Central America started in January or February. Those lucky children are only two months away from the end of school. Schoolchildren in India and the Philippines are already into their third month of the school year. And students in Kenyaówell, they follow the British system and attend school all year, with long breaks at the end of each quarter.

Find the school calendar for your friend on the graph below.

School calendar

Related links
Time for school

Jul 27 2009

A letter of thanks

Joanna from Costa RicaHello all, it is so good to be able to greet you and, at the same time, wish the best to you and your family.

My name is Johanna. I am the oldest of four siblings. We live in Alajuela, Costa Rica, very close to the Poas Volcano. When we were not part of CFCA, we had lots of needs. Weíve always liked to go to school to learn, therefore we were always very happy to attend, even though the beginning of the school year was a very anguished moment because we had no uniforms or good shoes. Praise God, we are a very united family. We love and help each other very much. Our parents have always worked hard to bring us up.

During the coffee-picking season, my mother would leave very early in the morning to work at the coffee plantations, and I would stay home, taking care of my younger siblings. With the money she made, she would buy part of the school supplies we needed because, even though my dad worked hard, he could not cover all our needs. My parents were very sad that we had to stay home alone, but I used to tell them not to worry, that I was not afraid of it.

Joanna with a notebook for each school subjectWhen CFCA came to the community, and I became sponsored, this big blessing came into my family and my life. Thank God, I was blessed with a godmother (ed. note: padrina/padrino, meaning “godmother” or “godfather,” is the word used for “sponsor” in Spanish) who loves me very much. She is very good with me and worried about me. Thanks to her sponsorship, I had the opportunity, for the first time in my life, to have one notebook for each school subject and to attend school with new shoes and uniforms. I have never lived anything like it.

Today I am in 10th grade, and this year I received, as every year of my sponsorship, new shoes and uniforms which makes me feel very happy.

Thank you all sponsors, for making my siblings and I smile every day when we go to school.

May God bless you abundantly. I hope that you continue helping the many who don’t have the sponsorship I am receiving.

With much love,


Jul 10 2009

Tourism decrease hurts Costa Rican tribe

Information provided by Rafael Villalobos, San Jose, Costa Rica, project coordinator

The global recession has hurt businesses catering to tourists who want to see the world. Itís also hurt an indigenous community that earns a livelihood from the sale of handicrafts to tourists in Costa Rica.

TamborThe Maleku are an indigenous tribe living in Guatuso, a beautiful tourist destination 150 miles from the city of San JosÈ, Costa Rica. Tourists come from all over the world to visit the light blue Frio River, said by locals to have its color because when God painted the sky blue He washed His brushes in this river.

The Maleku try to live peacefully and in harmony with nature. Having lost territory to cattle farmers, the Maleku are working hard to recover the forests and protect local flora. They use the tourism industry to give tours of the forest and showcase the many benefits it provides, such as medicinal plants, colored inks from plants and cacao beans for chocolate.

Most Maleku are artisans, working with local materials from the forest to create handicrafts. Many work as a family, with some members searching for materials, some working in the first steps of preparation, some painting the colorful images and others selling them to tourists. The Maleku make handicrafts by old traditions that celebrate their culture, items like masks, painted gourds, rain sticks and drums.

Maria shows the tambor she makes for tourists.MarÌa Lillian, a member of the Maleku community, is the mother of Marta, 18, a CFCA scholarship student in ninth grade, Joselyn, an 8-year-old sponsored child, and three other children. The family works making handicrafts to sell to tourists. A single mask can take up to 15 days to make and a drum can be completed in about six days. Often a family member must travel up to 25 miles in order to obtain the materials they need.

Unfortunately, tourism has been affected by the global economic crisis. Guatuso has seen an 80 percent reduction in tourists visiting the area. This reduction also means a decrease in sales profits from handicrafts for families like MarÌaís. Previously making $400 a month on handicrafts, they are now selling only $30 a month.

MarÌa is currently making bread to sell because she had no other income besides the handicrafts. It is a difficult situation for the family, who love what they do and value their culture and tradition, but can no longer make enough money to cover their basic needs.

Last year, in order to bring their business closer to the tourists, a community of Maleku worked for months to build a community hall near the road where access of tourists would be easier. Due to the economic crisis, they have only welcomed one group of tourists this year, while last year they received 4 groups each month.

Paul Pearce, director of CFCA international programs, said this story illustrates how sponsorship is vital to help families weather economic ups and downs. ìItís an example of the precarious nature of a familyís narrow budget,î he explains. “Sponsorship can help absorb some of the blow of an economic impact like this.”

Jul 2 2009

Celebrating freedom

On the Fourth of July, Americans will gather to celebrate Independence Day with fireworks, parades and picnics. Although the United States and the countries CFCA partners with do not celebrate independence on the same date, we share many customs and events.

In Central America, most countries celebrate their independence on Sept. 15 with parades and music. The running of the Central American Freedom Torch from Guatemala to Costa Rica, taking a total of 14 days, reenacts the news of their independence spreading through Central America.

South Americans celebrate with large celebrations, flying flags, parades, fireworks and feasting. In India, all cities have Flag Hoisting Ceremonies run by politicians and other officials. Indian schoolchildren gather to sing songs and watch the hoisting of the flag.

Under colonization, Haitians were forbidden to eat soup, a meal reserved for the upper classes. Now on Independence Day, it is traditional to eat soup to demonstrate the equality of all citizens.

People of the Philippines celebrate their independence with ceremonies, historic exhibitions and memorial events. Festivities begin with a flag-raising ceremony and parade in the historic city of Cavite, where Filipinos first proclaimed their independence.

We would like to encourage you to research how the country your friend lives in celebrates its independence. And from all of us at CFCA, we wish you a safe and wonderful Independence Day.

The Independence Days of the countries CFCA partners with are listed below.

Jan. 1
Feb. 27
Dominican Republic
May 24
June 12
June 26
July 5
July 20
July 26
July 28
Aug. 6
Aug. 15
Sept. 7
Sept. 15
Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua
Sept. 16
Sept. 18
Oct. 9
Dec. 9
Dec. 12


Updated July 1, 2011

May 6 2009

When Allison met Allison

By Allison Kline, student at Missouri State University

Allison Kline and her friend, AllisonMy mission awareness trip to Costa Rica was one of the most unique experiences of my life. I got the chance to practice my Spanish and meet my sponsored child, Allison.

Before my trip to Costa Rica, I had never left the United States, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I have studied Spanish in school for the past six years, but I had never spoken it outside the classroom. But, on my first day in Costa Rica, that changed.

My mom, who works in communications for CFCA, was taking pictures of families at the La Estrella subproject, and she needed to tell them that the pictures she was taking were for CFCA. She asked me to tell the parents what the pictures were for, using my Spanish. I was really nervous, but surprisingly, they could understand me, and they seemed happy that I communicated with them in their own language.

The highlight of my trip was the day that the sponsors and sponsored children got to spend together. We spent the whole day at a beautiful park area playing games and getting to know the kids. Allison, who is 7, really enjoyed jumping on the trampoline that was set up. She would have spent the whole day jumping if she could.

AllisonI taught her how to use my digital camera and showed her how to look at the pictures she’d taken. She caught on quickly, and she took a bunch of pictures of the children and their sponsors playing and having a good time. My mom and I really enjoyed spending the day with Allison. She was quiet, but the whole day she had a big smile on her face.

The next day, my mom and I went with three social promoters and a translator to visit Allisonís house. When we got to their neighborhood, we had to climb up a muddy hill that the promoters told us was almost impossible to climb during the rainy season. We could imagine that: we were having problems climbing it in the dry weather.

Allisonís house was made of tin and had cardboard walls. Seeing the house was sad, but it made me happy when we walked inside and saw Allison and her older brother and sister coloring with the coloring books and colored pencils we brought them. Allison’s mom showed us Allisonís school notebooks filled with her schoolwork, and we got to see some of the food benefits and the bunk beds that the family received from CFCA.

Going to Costa Rica was one of the best experiences of my life, and I especially enjoyed getting to know Allison and her family. A mission awareness trip is a really eye-opening experience, and I’m glad I got the opportunity to participate in one.

Apr 17 2009

Bob’s notes – Visit to Costa Rica

Mission awareness trip to Costa Rica
Mar. 21 ñ 28, 2009

Project Coordinator Rafael (Rafa) Villalobos started off this day with a dynamic reflection on the ìThe Banquet of the Kingdom.î I finished up the reflection singing, ìLove the Children.î

Sabanilla, Alajuela
We have been working in this rural area for only one year, yet the spirit is strong. A childrenís band marched us up the last mile or so to the parish church. The celebrant, Father Elias, expressed kindness to the children, and thanks to the sponsors. The four months of coffee harvest offer the only relatively sure source of employment. The fern and plant nurseries in this area were hard hit by the recent earthquake. One father died in the quake, and several houses were damaged.

The 500-hen livelihood project was challenged by lack of water. Parents hauled water by hand until water pipes could be repaired. Our home visits were high impact. Nubia, a petite young mother refugee from Esteli, Nicaragua, after having three sons and after suffering many beatings, had to separate from her husband. She was so full of life and enthusiastic that she convinced CFCA project leaders to begin sponsoring children in this area. Our social worker determined that this family needed a more dignified living situation. They now have an attractive and secure three-bedroom home with tile floors.

La Estrellita, Cartago
Our day started off with the early morning testimony of sponsored teen, Francini, 16. This girl suffered many different abuses over a period of four years. She also suffered because of the death of her first sponsor. Yet, with support and accompaniment of her current sponsors and CFCA staff, Francini is doing much better now. She aspires to study archeology.

In La Estrella, Cartago, where we have 810 children and 52 aging sponsored, the giants and costumed actors danced us into the 75-pupil school, where the principal and teachers had prepared a short program. Rafa explained the significance of the national anthem and the colors of the Costa Rican Flag.
During the family visits, we met parents, Maria Isabel and Juan, and their three daughters and one son. Three of the four children are sponsored. Juan is a recovering alcoholic and runs AA meetings three times a week in a little hall out back, formerly a chicken coop. Juan is now a builder, carpenter, gardener and responsible father. Maria Isabel is active in church, CFCA and spousesí support group for AA. A fine lunch followed for this large CFCA community. Children, aging, parents, staff and sponsors participated in the entertainment, to the great enjoyment of all.
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