Join us as we celebrate Geography Awareness Week with National Geographic and friends. This year’s theme “focuses on how geography enables us all to be intrepid explorers in our own way.”
We start with our work in the Dominican Republic.
“Bob’s notes” are reports from CFCA President Bob Hentzen, who regularly accompanies awareness trip participants. You can see Bob’s full update on his Facebook page.
Photo credits for this report go to the CFCA Dominican Republic staff and to Bob Hentzen.
For me it is always a joy to travel with people who deeply believe in CFCA and deeply love their sponsored friends and their friends’ families.
From north to south in the Dominican Republic, CFCA sponsors on this trip were fortunate to visit each of their sponsored friends in their homes. A good number of these sponsors have helped our CFCA preachers at weekend church presentations.
Others have organized CFCA Sponsorship Sundays at their church or have shared the work of CFCA in their own communities.
Trip participants from this group continued this magnificent outreach by requesting more than 60 folders with family profiles and photos of children, youth and aging friends waiting to be sponsored.
They will take the folders home with them in hopes of finding sponsors for the young and old who are on our waiting list.
A bit of background
CFCA has been working in the Dominican Republic since 1982. CFCA currently serves 5,945 sponsored friends and 105 scholarship students, with 1,117 individuals waiting for sponsorship. Read more
We recently published a story about Buenaventura, a sponsored 63-year-old in the Dominican Republic who has learned to read and write through a CFCA adult literacy program.
In the 22 countries where CFCA works, aging people such as Buenaventura often have no one to depend on for their well-being.
They usually receive no social security and may not be able to count on family members for support because adult children are often occupied with their own survival.
We always encourage people to sponsor a child, but we also encourage people to consider sponsoring an elderly or aging friend. The elderly often serve as mentors for young people in the community and offer support and encouragement to one another.
Sponsorship provides them with medical care, nutritious food and the opportunity to participate in recreational and educational programs.
As Buenaventura’s story demonstrates, it’s never too late to begin achieving your educational dreams!
In honor of fathers worldwide, we decided to share this special story of Jose Luis in the Dominican Republic. His daughters are sponsored through CFCA.
Jose Luis struggled to provide for his familyís needs without leaving them to find work. He was able to stay and find employment after discovering CFCA’s Hope for a Family program.
This video features a mothers group in our project in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
The narrator in the video, Altagracia Flores, is a charismatic social worker in the Santo Domingo project. She and other CFCA staff members work closely with mothers of sponsored children who want to start or improve their livelihood or business.
They can access small loans from the group fund, which consists of the mothersí individual contributions and a CFCA matching amount.
Altagracia shares with us the example of two mothers who have succeeded in improving their small businesses and their families’ living conditions.
From the Santo Domingo project in the Dominican Republic
Through the Centro Familiar (Family Center), we prepare activities for teenagers that address personal growth, values and respect for life. As part of this program, we have given two workshops this year: career counseling and values and dating. The career counseling workshop involved a personality survey to help the participants see which profession would best suit them.
These two workshops attracted 1,807 teenagers, with some attending from every subproject.
Another activity is a camp we offer every year. Its goal is to make use of the teenagersí free time during vacation for formation activities that focus on personal development. The camps have an educational and formative theme. Various activities are offered such as crafts, visual arts, theater, writing composition, table sports, and racket sports. The camp ends in Santo Domingo with the distribution of participant awards, a medal and a trophy, to each first, second, and third place winner.
Upon reflection, this activityís importance stood out because the teenagers participated in healthy activities during their vacation and distanced themselves from other activities that might have been detrimental to their well-being. Also, they appreciated the involvement of and interaction with teenagers from other subprojects. This interaction is just what we wanted, that CFCA become one big family. We have made an effort so that every teenager can participate in the camps, which we believe will help them in the future to become better citizens.
During the 2009 camp, we had 350 teenagers benefit from the program.
Here is an interview between Santo Domingo project coordinator Nelson Figueroa and Samuel, a 17-year-old sponsored youth from Santo Domingo.
Q. When did you start playing baseball?
A. I was five years old. I started in a children¥s league called Borinquen. However, Iíve always played in the streets with my friends
Q. How often do you play?
A. I play every Saturday and Sunday in the league. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday we have practice in the league, but I play with my friends every time I can.
Q. What do you think about baseball and why do you like the game?
A. It is very important and very good. It helps my muscles and allows me to be in shape by being active all the time. It keeps my mind busy and away from unhealthy environments.
Q. What position do you like to play?
A. Center field because you get many balls and can throw them to the bases. You run a lot.
Q. What is the best thing you ever did in a game?
A. Once I was playing against the team from Azua (Azua is a province in the south) and I grabbed a ground ball and threw it with all my strength to home plate. The player was out and we won the game. On another occasion, we were in Barahona (another province in the southeast). I was playing with my team. I had to bat and I hit a home run out of the field. We were losing, but the team got energized by it and we won the game. By the way, I have never done it again!
Q. Who is your favorite baseball player?
A. Pedro ìEl Grandeî Martinez.
Did you miss Nelson’s blog post about baseball in the Dominican Republic? Read it here!
Baseball is America’s favorite pastime, as the saying goes. And tonight with game 1 of the World Series, which pits the New York Yankees against the Philadelphia Phillies, fans and teams alike will wind up for a nearly a week and a half of baseball mania. We wanted to know what another baseball-crazed nation, the Dominican Republic, thinks of the sport, so we asked Nelson Figueroa, Santo Domingo project coordinator, to weigh in on the topic.
Baseball in the Dominican Republic is considered a national entertainment. This is the sport that gathers all levels of society. Pretty much life in the DR flows around baseball and the teams of the Dominican Baseball League. As a matter of fact, we have a saying here. Dominicans talk about two things: the ìballitic,î or baseball and politics.
The children generally like to wear the colors of their favorite team. There is no place in which people donít talk about who is or isnít the best player. Baseball makes the front page of the newspaper all the time. Even politicians use baseball terms in their political material.
Everyday language uses baseball terms. For example, when a person does something illegal, people say, ìHe/she batted a foul.î In contrast, when a person does something really good people say, ìHe/she hit a home run through the 411.î The number ì411î is the measurement through the center field of the largest stadium in the country.
It starts early
In general, the life of Dominicans flows around this sport, and children start playing it at a young age.
We could probably say that children start playing at about age five, but they begin learning the basics when they take their first steps. In fact, one of their very first gifts is a plastic baseball bat and ball. Children play in parks, streets, their backyards and on organized leagues.
The organized league starts with the mini league at age 5 to 7. The organized leagues are for boys only. Girls usually play informally.
Improvising the equipment
Children usually play baseball in the streets. They use juice or milk cartons as mitts by flattening them and making a horizontal opening for the finger, similar to regular baseball mitts. Baseball bats are made with broomsticks or a piece of wood carved to the shape of a bat.
Many times the balls are rubber balls sold locally, but most of the time they are made by wrapping a small rock with paper and holding it with tape. Once that is done, they put the ball inside of a sock to form the ball.
Children use anything available for the bases: electric posts, trash, rocks, whatever wonít blow away. Sometimes they paint bases on the floor with paint or charcoal.
A famous legacy
The most popular baseball player in the Dominican Republic is Juan Marichal, the only Dominican player in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in the U.S.
The Professional Baseball League of the Dominican Republic is the major league, and the season starts in October. Most Dominican baseball players in the U.S. come from this league. At the same time, players from other countries are brought here as support.
For some time, the town of San Pedro de Macoris turned out many professional baseball players. I donít know the reason why so many baseball players came from this town. Nowadays, there are players from all over the countryófamous players such as Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez, Vladimir Guerrero, Albert Pujols, Miguel Tejada, Placido Polanco, Alex RodrÌguez, JosÈ Reyes, Omar Minaya (general manager for the New York Mets), Robinson Cano, and others.
Of course, one of the dreams of our boys and their families is for them to become a professional baseball player. It is a way out of poverty
CFCAís Santo Domingo project does not usually organize baseball games as recreation because children usually play it in their own communities.
Check back tomorrow to read an interview between Nelson and Samuel, a 17-year-old sponsored youth from Santo Domingo.
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.
Time for school
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.
|Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua|
Updated July 1, 2011