Tag: El Salvador

Aug 16 2011

5 great letter-writing ideas for your sponsored friend

Three CFCA sponsored children from El Salvador talk about letter-writing and what they want to hear from sponsors. Here are five topics they want to know more about: jobs, recreational activities, parents, grandchildren and gardening.

Brenda, CFCA sponsored child in El Salvador



How long have you been sponsored? Four years.

How often do you write your sponsor? At least five times a year.

What do you like about writing letters? I enjoy making drawings for them.

Does your sponsor write you? If so, how often? Around five times a year.

What have you learned about your sponsor through letters? She is a joyful person, very friendly. She has told me that she is a doctor and cures animals. Sometimes she cures her grandchildren too. Read more

Aug 5 2011

Bob’s notes – Mission awareness trip to El Salvador

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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.

The Pullman bus from Guatemala dropped us off at a gas station out on the highway near Santa Ana, El Salvador.

What an experience to travel over the terrain where we had walked in January 2010. Often we struggled up these respectable hills in the tropical heat.

Cristina and I noticed a welcoming group of about 100 sponsored children, elderly and families with homemade banners and songs. Of particular note were two children of special abilities who didnít miss a beat. Read more

Jul 15 2011

CFCA inspires Austin sponsors to create their own path to change

As they commit their trust, hope, resources and willingness to grow, CFCA sponsors find pathways into solidarity with families living in poverty. Jack and Martha Kern are two sponsors who exemplify this relationship of solidarity. CFCA Communications Intern Marie Biggs had an opportunity to speak with the Kerns about their commitment to help young people achieve their potential through education.

Martha and Jack Kern, CFCA sponsors

Martha and Jack Kern

Jack Kern’s Catholic faith, interest in studying Spanish and time spent in Latin America made sponsoring through CFCA a natural choice for him and his wife, Martha.

With some inspiration from their experiences as CFCA sponsors, the Austin, Texas, couple later helped found a nonprofit organization that provides support to a small village in central Mexico.

Jack and Martha began sponsoring through CFCA more than 10 years ago after seeing a sponsorship table at their church.

In 2002, Jack went on a mission awareness trip to El Salvador to visit their sponsored child, Marta.

“The desire to make more of a personal connection with Marta was one of the things that prompted me to sign up to visit her in El Salvador,” Jack said in his recently published book, “Weavers of Hope ñ Una Familia Humana ñ One Human Family.” “I wanted to learn more about her life and how she and her family lived.”

In the book, Jack describes his experiences founding the nonprofit and the people that encouraged him.

Jack wrote that he felt inspired by the joy and happiness he saw in the midst of difficult living situations in El Salvador.

He was also impressed by the CFCA staff members he met and their focus on education as a tool for overcoming poverty. Read more…

Jul 4 2011

Independence Days around the CFCA world

Happy Fourth of July to the CFCA community based in the United States!

Of course, many in our community overseas celebrate their Independence Day sometime other than today. We’d like to recognize a few of those:

El Salvador

El Salvador annually celebrates its independence from Spain on Sept. 15.

This celebration is called the “Central American Independence” because Central America was under the domain of Spain and its countries reached their independence at the same time.

For this celebration, thousands of students from public and private schools participate in the “independence parade,” organized in every major city or town.

They march to the rhythm of “peace bands” playing folk, classic and modern songs, as well as dances, acrobatics and cheerleading routines. People fill the streets with flags and smiles.


Like El Salvador, Guatemala celebrates its independence day on Sept. 15. Many schools, buildings and buses are decorated with nationalistic images: the white-and-blue flag, quetzal (national bird) and monja blanca (national flower).

Students have parades with marching bands as they sing the national anthem, with cultural presentations and firecrackers. The army participates with a military parade and air shows, usually in front of the national palace and with the president.

On Sept. 14, a night parade takes place where people light the “independence torch” in their communities. The streets are decorated with balloons and white-and-blue ornaments, with children and adults waving plastic Guatemalan flags.


India celebrates its independence from the United Kingdom on Aug. 15. Every city has a flag-hoisting ceremony where schoolchildren gather to sing the national anthem and watch the hoisting of the flag.

Sweets such as laddu are also distributed. Children in school competitions read compositions about India’s freedom fighters. Unlike in the U.S., fireworks aren’t common except in certain towns.

Apr 27 2011

Wisdom of the Ages: Juan Antonio, 80, from El Salvador

Here is an interview with Juan Antonio, 80. He is in the Hope for a Family sponsorship program in El Salvador. Watch a video of Juan Antonio dancing!

Whatís your secret for a long life?

Juan Antonio in El Salvador

One must think about tomorrow. You’ll realize that you must avoid vices, you must try to feed yourself well and in order to do that, you need to save. Saving, when possible, gives you enough to be well and healthy.

At the same time I eat all kinds of food. You need to eat a little bit of everything. I drink milk and eat rice, beans, tortillas, etc.

A secret for a long life is also to be happy by living a modest life because nowadays life is too fast. People don’t eat well and worry too much about everything.

What advice do you have for todayís youth?

I would tell the young people to live life as I have because now they live too fast. They want everything; they don’t want to save.

Don’t waste your money; use it wisely. When I was young, money in general was limited, nowadays, there is more money out there because people make more money but they spend more too.

The person who saves will have for moments of need.

What is the most important thing your mother taught you?

My mother always taught me to stay away from vices. In spite of that I had a drinking problem for a long time.

I used to work distributing sodas to the stores in the city. We had no vehicles. It was a wood truck pulled by horses.

We did not make much money, but the little money I made I used to spend on alcohol. Praise God I realized that this was not taking me anywhere, so I stopped.

My mother always taught me to be positive, to be encouraged amidst problems. She always said, “Son, you must always lift up your spirit.”

If you could visit any place in the world, where would you go?

I would like to visit the United States because that is the country where all these CFCA blessings come from. Our sponsors live there and I would love to see the place where these generous hearts live.

Tell us something special or unique about yourself.

I enjoy doing house chores, cooking and dancing. I live with my daughter and my granddaughter because my wife passed away.

I like making beans soup and rice. Taking care of my daughter and grandchild is something I like very much.

I also enjoy dancing in gym and dance classes offered by CFCA because we exercise and dance. It is nice.

What has changed since you were young?

Things have changed very much. When I was young you started work at a very young age.

I was a little boy when I was sent to work at the coffee plantations. I used to get paid 50 cents ($0.05 US) per 35 pounds of coffee beans I picked.

Nowadays, children have more opportunities. Many study, but many don’t want to; they just want to hang around.

However, life, in one sense, is better because there are many more things available that we did not have before.

What do you most like about CFCA?

The opportunity to be in a community, to be well dressed all the time with the clothing I receive, to go out with friends and enjoy life in the outings we have, as well as the benefits we receive in food because I have milk and other products.

Mar 31 2011

A former sponsored child in El Salvador looks back

Juan Carlos was sponsored through CFCA’s Santa Ana, El Salvador, office for 10 years, from 8 to 18. He is now 28 and lives outside Santa Ana with his wife and their 2-year-old son. Juan Carlos works in the maintenance department of a local hospital. Nimia works at a textile factory.

What did you like most when you were sponsored?

The birthday celebrations. My parents could not afford to celebrate, so these parties were nice. We used to get food, ice cream and gifts.

That was the best part because we used to get toys, and as with any child, toys were my favorite.

Juan Carlos and family

From left are Juan Carlos, Diego Alexander and Nimia.

We were very poor, but I remember how happy my parents were when we received food provisions, especially milk, because that was good for us.

CFCA was a blessing for the entire family, not only for me as a sponsored child.

What did CFCA do for you personally?

CFCA sponsorship gave me happiness. The possibility to have so many happy moments in my life helped me very much.

I did receive lots of help to be the person I am now. We had a wholesome support in the material, spiritual, educational and healthy aspects of my life.

This is helping me with my own family now because I can provide for them what I lacked before.

Do you think about your sponsors even now?

I often do. They were a nice couple and had three children: two boys and a little girl.

Unfortunately I never met them personally but they always sent me letters and pictures and always encouraged me, asked me questions and always replied to my questions.

The pictures they sent were nice because I could see their children grow and the beautiful landscapes they included. I particularly remember one that they sent with some beautiful mountains with snow on the top. We don’t see that here.

If you could meet your sponsors personally, what would you tell them now?

Read more

Mar 10 2011

CFCA inspires Salvadoran girl to paint her life

Roxana in El Salvador

Roxana created the painting, pictured in the background, which reflects her experience with CFCA Hope for a Family sponsorship.

CFCA recently celebrated 25 years of service in El Salvador. The sponsorship program began in El Salvador in 1985 with 25 sponsored children. Today, CFCA serves more than 12,000 sponsored children, youth and aging members around the country.

As part of the different activities organized by CFCA-Santa Ana to commemorate this special milestone, a drawing and painting contest was held for sponsored members who wanted to participate. The topic was “CFCA as hope for a family.”

Roxana Maribel, 16, won first place with her original painting, “Before and After.” It reflects her deep sense of transformation in the 14 years she has been sponsored through CFCA.

My name is Roxana Maribel. I am 19 years old and live in the city of Santa Ana in El Salvador. Since kindergarten, I enjoyed drawing and painting.

Over the years, I have taught myself different techniques. Nothing professional, but something I enjoyed as a hobby.

Roxana's painting

Roxana’s painting.

When I was told about the drawing and painting contest, I decided to participate with a painting that would somehow show myself reflected in it.

This painting reflects the changes in my life and the lives of many others, thanks to all the support I have received from my sponsor. To me, painting is a simple way to express my feelings and thoughts. I like people to see what I feel.

I feel happy that I won first place in the contest. My family was very supportive and felt happy with my achievement.

I have many dreams for my future. The main ones are to be closer to our Lord, to become a professional woman and to be able to help my family.

~Interview by Jorge Castaneda, communication center staff member; photos by Daniel Hernandez

Mar 3 2011

Nurturing potential for 25 years in El Salvador

In December 2010, CFCA celebrated its 25th anniversary of service in El Salvador. Henry Flores, director of the communications center in El Salvador and an employee of CFCA there for 16 years, offers this reflection.

I was first introduced to CFCA in 1995 when I was returning from the U.S. where I had lived and studied for seven years.

The CFCA office in Santa Ana, in El Salvador, needed to hire a translator. Though I wasn’t the best translator, I was blessed to be given the opportunity.

Henry Flores

Henry Flores

My first thought about the job was, “This should be a nice way to readjust myself to the country and make some income until I find something better to do.”

The days passed and little by little, I reconnected with my roots and started to learn from the people of my country, those who are hidden in their cardboard, rusted metal sheet and old wood houses, those we call “the poor.”

They taught me that “rich” is not about how much you have, but how little you need. This made a permanent impact on my heart and what started as a temporary job has become a 16-year passion for service.

People living in poverty constantly humble me with their reality and difficult life burdens but unbelievable resilience and faith.

In December 2010, we celebrated the 25th anniversary of CFCA’s service in El Salvador. Twenty-five is an easy number to say but the stories and miracles behind it are endless.

I have witnessed the life transformation of thousands of sponsored members and their families, becoming better trained to build their own path out of poverty with the tools provided by CFCA.

Many of the children sponsored by CFCA in these 25 years are now adults, who have been able to break the circle of poverty, live with stronger family values and understand the importance of education.

Read more

Feb 28 2011

Couple discusses rewards of sponsoring Hilario

Hilario, 13, has been sponsored for about a year through the Hope for a Family program in Santa Ana, El Salvador. During that time, he has made great strides physically and emotionally. (Read more about Hilario’s story here.)

His sponsors, Larry and Gwen Ulibarri, met him during a mission awareness trip. They have many sponsored friends besides Hilario: Daniela, Deborah and Teodora, an elderly woman in El Salvador.

Here’s their perspective on meeting Hilario.


I met Hilario in May 2010.

Larry and Gwen Ulibarri

This photo of Gwen and Larry was submitted courtesy of the Ulibarris.

My wife, Gwen, had sponsored a little girl, Daniela, and was going to El Salvador with the CFCA mission awareness trip. She invited me to go.

I was not particularly interested, but it has been very rewarding for me to have gone and taken the opportunity to sponsor a child.

I, in fact, also sponsor a special-needs child, a girl 7 years old and developmentally disabled.

CFCA introduced us to Hilario and his father, Pablo. Their place of residence was destitute and showed the dire need of son and father.

We left and joined the group to return to the office. While standing there I decided that I would sponsor him.

Iíll never forget the glow and smile on his face when he heard that! His father thanked me.

I write often. I have subsequently received two letters. Pablo sent pictures.

They were able to buy a bed, mattress and a cooking stove. His father says that Hilario is very happy and grateful for the help I have given him.

Hilario in El Salvador


I hope to return to El Salvador and see Hilario and Deborah (another of their sponsored friends). I am a man of 85 years, and God willing, I will again see their beautiful faces.


We raised four boys, three of whom are developmentally disabled. I always wanted a girl.

About four years ago a priest came to our parish and gave a talk about CFCA and the work that they do. I decided immediately that I wanted to sponsor a girl who was disabled since disabled people seem to be the last ones chosen.

I was given Daniela who, at that time, had severe asthma. Iím told now that she is a healthy young girl.

What impressed me about Hilario were his BEAUTIFUL white teeth.

My dentist said the reason for such white teeth is probably because he doesnít eat many sweets ñ including candy.

At my last checkup I showed him the first picture we had of Hilario and then the most recent one. He was amazed! I got the impression that he thought there is a 100 percent improvement in this short time.

P.S. Iím hoping to return to Santa Ana when Daniela receives her first Holy Communion. I would also like to visit Hilario, Deborah and Teodora ñ our elderly lady.

Jan 3 2011

How different parts of the world celebrate the New Year

We asked Unbound communication liaisons to describe how they celebrated the New Year in their countries. Here are three reports:


In my beautiful country Guatemala, New Year’s celebrations are prepared with great joy, and our customs and traditions give this year-end feast a special touch.

Traditionally, we receive the New Year with a delicious Guatemalan tamale on the table, prepared from corn, chicken or pork, salty or sweet with grapes and raisins, and also a hot cup of fruit punch or traditional hot chocolate.


We all enjoy dinner as a family waiting for midnight. And then … young and old enter the streets to illuminate the night sky with firecrackers and fireworks.

The tremendous noise announcing the New Year is heard across the whole country.

Beside our Christmas tree and next to the nativity scene, locally called “El Nacimiento,” we say a family prayer.

It all ends with strong hugs and often with tears of joy and emotion. -Luis Cocon


Fireworks lighting up the skies, cheers and ululations, cars honking; this is how Kenyans usher in the New Year.

On New Year’s Eve, young and old throng entertainment spots to sing, dance and drink. The towns are usually alive with activity, and music is heard from miles away.

When the long-awaited hour approaches, a countdown starts. As the clock strikes midnight, the crowd goes into a frenzy as people scream at the top of their voices and toast the New Year.

However, not everyone goes to entertainment spots. Some opt to go to evening church vigils where they sing, praise God and listen to preaching.

As the hour approaches, the faithful pray for a fruitful year filled with God’s blessings.†When midnight strikes, praise songs fill the places of worship as the New Year is dedicated to God.

Whether in churches or entertainment spots, Kenya ushers in the New Year in style.

Kenyans are a jovial lot and wherever they are, laughter fills the air as a new chapter is opened.-Regina Mburu

El Salvador

The celebration of New Year’s Eve, or Noche Vieja (old night), is big in El Salvador.

Families welcome the New Year with food, cumbia, merengue or salsa music, fire crackers and fireworks, as well as unique midnight ceremonies.

Before midnight, hundreds of families buy what is locally called “Estreno,” or brand-new clothing.

We have a tradition of buying brand-new outfits to be worn at night to welcome the New Year, to attract new and positive things all year long.

Streets are full of people at night; neighbors visit neighbors, share food and dance a little.

Children and teenagers usually spend most of the night popping firecrackers or fireworks.

As midnight approaches, some people prepare unique ceremonies. One is the egg ritual, where people break an egg one minute before midnight, dump it in a glass with water and let it sit as the year changes.

The egg yolk mutates into various forms, and people try to interpret them as trips, houses, etc., a sign of things to come in the New Year.

At midnight, everybody is outside. Family members hug one another; there are tears and laughs; the phone rings with calls from relatives in other countries to wish the family a Happy New Year; and neighbors embrace, offering peace and best wishes.

One hour into the New Year, streets are empty.

The distant sound of a few firecrackers reminds you that the New Year has arrived and that we must do our best to make it a really good one.-Henry Flores