Tag: Dan Pearson

Oct 21 2010

From beneficiaries to partners: How CFCA views sponsored friends

Dan Pearson, operations/program development director for CFCA, explains how CFCA programs are moving toward greater autonomy and partnership with those being sponsored. Rather than seeing them as “beneficiaries,” we see them as “partners.”

Nonprofit organizations often divide their stakeholders neatly into two categories: donors and beneficiaries. But CFCA has always viewed things a little differently.

Dan Pearson

Dan Pearson

CFCA has always seen sponsors as more than simply donors. Sponsors are first and foremost human beings with a desire to connect with other human beings.

Part of CFCA’s mission is to give sponsors a way to grow in love through a personal connection to a child or elderly person in another part of the world. In that sense, sponsors are also beneficiaries of sponsorship because we can receive emotional and spiritual benefits as we provide encouragement and material support to a friend in another country.

Similarly, CFCA has never seen sponsored children and their families as simply beneficiaries. The word “beneficiary” implies someone who passively receives assistance from another person. But sponsored members and their families are not passive. In fact, they are some of the most active people I have met.

Sponsored children often get up early and walk long distances just to receive an education. Their parents work long days (often in jobs that are physically demanding) to provide for their childrenís basic needs. Yes, these families benefit from the program. But they are much more than beneficiaries.

Sai and his family

Sponsored child Sai, second from right, and his family in Hyderabad, India.

Part of the message in CFCA’s Hope for a Family program is that the families of sponsored children are our partners.

The mother of a child partners with a sponsor to achieve a childís goals for the future. She is a trustworthy partner because:

a) she has demonstrated her absolute commitment to her child’s future,

b) she understands her child’s unique gifts and the particular challenges her child faces, and

c) she is extremely skilled at overcoming challenges.

The proof of a motherís trustworthiness as a partner in the development of her child is in her tireless dedication. She spends nearly every waking hour dedicated to the cause of her children. Then she goes to bed, wakes up early, and starts over again.

The label “beneficiary” doesnít do justice to that kind of active dedication to a cause.

When one sponsor and one family join forces to change one child’s life, all other labels dissolve. They are simply human beings working together to make one small piece of the world a better place.

We welcome your feedback! In the comments below, please tell us how you view the “beneficiaries” vs. “partners” distinction. If you’re a sponsor, have you always viewed sponsorship as a way to partner with others? Why or why not?

Dec 4 2009

Health care around the world

By Kelly Demo, CFCA preacher

As the health care debate in this country rages on, I began to wonder about insurance and government-run health programs in the countries in which CFCA works. Do they have insurance at all? What do government-run programs look like? Are they working, and is there anything that we can learn from them?

The British began large insurance companies in India back in the 1800s to cover their nationals living there. In 1870, Bombay Mutual Life was formed as the first native insurance provider. Since that time, the government-run programs have been by far the largest provider of health insurance. However, since 1999, government deregulation has allowed for more private companies to enter the market. Only .2 percent of Indians are covered by insurance.

A CFCA clinic in IndiaAccording to Dan Pearson, CFCA director of program development and operations, ìThe cost of health care tends to be a lot lower in some countries. When we lived in India, we took my son to a private clinic for stitches. They put him under with anesthesia and everything, and the whole bill was under $40. Even those prices are way beyond what most of the CFCA families can afford, so they let injuries and illnesses go untreated, unless they are life threatening. Preventive health care is not even on the radar for most of the families.î However, CFCA mothers groups in India use their shared resources to respond to familiesí medical needs.

In hearing from many of our families in various projects around the world, not only is insurance not an option for them, but the government-run hospitals and clinics where care is more affordable are of very poor quality.

This is certainly true in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. There is a mandated government-run health care system of which most CFCA employees are a part. However, the care provided is often sub-standard.

Surprisingly, one bright spot in the health care struggle is Madagascar. According to USAID, the agency gave a grant to the government of Madagascar who began five community-based insurance programs in five counties. This was started because often those living in rural communities will have an influx of cash during the harvest and have more ability to attend to health issues, but will be cash poor later in the growing season.

Members of the community make an annual contribution to the insurance fund that can be paid in cash or crops. All of their health care expenses are then covered for that year. In 2005, the child mortality rate in these areas dropped to an astonishing 5 percent because of access to preventive health care and immunizations. The program has been so successful the government is expanding the program across the country.

Clearly, without sponsorship money most of the CFCA families around the world would be without health care benefits. Fortunately, because of sponsorship and special funds like Healthy Communities Fund and Project Needs Fund, CFCA field staff are given the flexibility and resources to help families in times of medical emergencies.

Jun 15 2009

Notes from the field #8 ó Haiti

Dan Pearson from international programs department traveled to Haiti to assess the CFCA program there. Pearson reports that the country’s lack of a basic infrastructure makes it difficult to earn a living. Yet despite the many hardships Haitians face, he sees a strength and courage from the people that inspires reverence and respect.

You can also watch Notes from the field #8 ó Haiti on our Vimeo channel.

Related links
Haitians have a strong oral tradition. Watch this short video slideshow of Haitian proverbs.
Check out all of CFCA’s Notes from the field series.

Mar 12 2009

Creating role models close to home

Mothers groups offer the mothers of sponsored children a support system, both financially and emotionally. Dan Pearson of international programs says mothers groups allow the women to demonstrate their strength, which society, as a whole, does not always recognize. But perhaps one of the most important benefits of mothers groups is that the mothers themselves become strong, female role models for their daughters. Part four of four videos

Mothers share their talents to improve their community (Part 3)
Support in a time of need (Part 2)
Watch an introduction to mothers groups (Part one)
What do we mean by “empowerment?”

Mar 11 2009

Mothers share their talents to improve their community

By coming together in the mothers groups, mothers in India can share their natural gifts and talents to help their community, says Dan Pearson of CFCA’s international programs. Josephine and the mothers group in her community work to improve their community by lobbying the city to pave the road from their village to the main road. Josephine also notices the number of homeless children in the community and starts an orphanage to care for them. Part three of four videos

Creating role models close to home (Part four)
Support in a time of need (Part 2)
Watch an introduction to mothers groups (Part one)
What do we mean by “empowerment?”

Mar 10 2009

Support in a time of need

Dan Pearson of CFCA’s international programs introduces us to Preethi (a fictional name to protect her privacy), mother of a sponsored child and a member of one of India’s mothers groups. The women in her mothers group offered Preethi and her family a loan, protection and support during a time of great need. Now Preethi and her family have stable jobs, steady income and her child is attending school. Part two of four videos

Creating role models close to home (Part 4)
Mothers share their talents to improve their community (Part 3)
Watch an introduction to mothers groups (Part one)
What do we mean by “empowerment?”

Mar 9 2009

An opportunity for mothers

Dan Pearson, a member of CFCA International Programs, returned from a six-month assignment in India to learn more about CFCA programs, particularly mothers groups. He saw that the mothers will find their own direction when they have the opportunity to take action. Part one of four videos

Creating role models close to home (Part 4)
Mothers share their talents to improve their community (Part 3)
Support in a time of need (Part 2)
What do we mean by “empowerment?”

Mar 6 2009

Strength and Power


On March 8, the world will celebrate International Women’s Day to honor the various achievements of women everywhere. While we still have a long way to go until women are considered full and equal partners, progress is being made, one woman at a time. Next week we will share with you just a few of the inspiring stories of the many women who grace our projects around the world.

By Dan Pearson, international programs

I was in India for six months working with one of CFCAís projects, and I joined a gym while I was here. It was a small gym, but I really enjoyed going there. One morning at the gym I was silently congratulating myself for increasing the weight on one of my exercises when, precisely at that moment, something outside the window caught my eye. I noticed a small woman, probably weighing about 100 pounds, walking down the street. She was balancing a bundle on her head that was about four feet wide, four feet long, and three feet tall. In her arms she was carrying her child. And there was a plastic chair tied to the top of the bundle on her head. And it was raining outside. Suddenly the incremental weight increase on my exercise didnít seem so impressive.

Seeing that woman reminded me of a similar experience I had many years ago in Haiti. I was helping build a medical clinic in the mountains, and since I had no real building skills I was given the job of bringing water to mix the concrete. The crew leader handed me a 5-gallon bucket and told me to follow a trail down, down, down the mountain to the river. I filled my bucket in the river and began the long walk up the steep mud trail. It was pretty hard work, but I was in my early 20s and in pretty good shape at the time. I stumbled a few times, and each time I stumbled some water spilled out of the bucket. After several stumbles, the job became more manageable. All in all, I felt like I was doing pretty well until someone†passed me on the trail moving very quickly. I barely caught a glimpse of her as she passed by. In just a few seconds she was out of view ahead of me. She was a girl about 11 or 12 years old. She was also carrying a 5-gallon bucket of water. Hers was still full.

The difference between strength and power
CFCA seeks to empower women, particularly the mothers of sponsored children. Sometimes that word ëempowermentí is misunderstood, creating the image of weak and helpless women. But thereís a big difference between strength and power. The mothers of sponsored children in India have no shortage of strength. And the same goes for the mothers of sponsored children in the other countries where CFCA works.

The strongest people on Earth
I have visited many places and met a lot of people all around the world, and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the strongest people anywhere on Earth are the mothers who live in the poorest communities in the world. They are mentally strong, emotionally strong, spiritually strong and, yes, physically strong. Tens of millions of mothers who live in the desperate corners of the planet get up each and every day regardless of how they feel and in spite of the overwhelming and unjust obstacles they face, and they do whatever it takes to give their kids life and a little hope for something better. Each of those women has a strength I canít even understand.

What they often lack is power. Power doesnít always have a lot to do with how strong you are. Power is about living in a society and an economy that allow you to fully use your strength. If you have power, you can use your strength how you see fit. If you donít have power, you are only allowed to use your strength to do the things that no one else wants to do (like carrying buckets of water up a mountain).

Empowering mothers
When CFCA talks about empowering the mothers of sponsored children, we do so with deep respect for the strength these women already demonstrate every day. All weíre doing is looking for ways to support their efforts to create for themselves a little more space, a little more power, so they can more fully use their strength. They deserve at least that much.

An opportunity for mothers(Part 1)
Support in a time of need (Part 2)
Mothers share their talents to improve their community (Part 3)
Creating role models close to home (Part 4)