Tag: Guatemala

Aug 20 2012

Going back to school: Mothers of sponsored children

It’s never too late to learn!

That’s one lesson that mothers of sponsored children taught Diego Felipe Coj Guarchaj, a CFCA staff member in Guatemala who has worked with CFCA for 13 years.

CFCA scholars and mothers go to school in Guatemala

Mothers of sponsored children in Guatemala are going back to school with the help of CFCA scholarships.

It began in 2007, when CFCA staffers started a literacy program in the town of Nahuala for mothers who wanted to learn how to read and write.

CFCA scholars taught the mothers as part of their community service project.

In 2008 more mothers wanted to learn, so the CFCA office in Nahuala contacted Guatemala’s national committee for literacy, a government-run institution that helps people finish their primary education.

In 2011 more than 75 mothers graduated from primary school with that literacy program.

Several of these mothers expressed a desire to continue their education, so the CFCA office encouraged them to apply for CFCA scholarships.

In 2012, Diego said 23 mothers and two fathers are now CFCA scholars. Classes include natural science, social studies, math, computers and writing.

“Twenty-three of the students are in seventh grade, one is in eighth grade, and one mother is in her first year of high school,” Diego said.

(Related link: Read more about the value of education for sponsored children in Guatemala.)

In a country where only 15.6 percent of the female population is educated to at least a secondary level of schooling (think junior high), according to the Human Development Index, the mothers’ achievements show their perseverance despite tremendous challenges. Read more

Jul 30 2012

He said, she said. . .

Our field staff does some serious research whenever we need information for a story. Unfortunately, we can’t use all of the quotes from our sponsored individuals. Instead of storing these gems in a file waiting to be archived, we decided to share some of our favorites with you.

Please enjoy a few quotes from the sponsored individuals in our Hope for a Family program!

Gregorio, CFCA sponsored aging, plays the guitar

Gregorio plays music for his pets

“I think the birds do because when I start singing or playing the guitar they start whistling.”
ó Gregorio, CFCA sponsored aging from Mexico, on whether or not his pets enjoy it when he makes music.

“Breaking the Santa Claus PiÒata and trying to collect many sweets, that’s where I have more fun.”
ó Hermes, 11-year-old CFCA sponsored child from Guatemala, who answered, honestly, about his favorite part of the CFCA Christmas celebration. Read more

Jul 27 2012

How we see success in the lives of families, part 2

We’re posting a series of blog posts on what success looks like for CFCA. Here are some goals of the Hope for a Family program, and stories that exemplify how those goals are being met in the field. We hope it encourages you, as it does us, to see hope growing in families.

GOAL: We want to empower families to develop their own means of support, so that they come to rely more on themselves and less on the Hope for a Family program.

Jorge Mario with jam in Guatemala

CFCA scholar Jorge Mario.

Jorge Mario is a scholarship student in Guatemala. His CFCA scholarship provides a modest stipend to pay for his educational expenses, but the scholarship alone is not enough to cover all Jorge’s costs.

His brother, Luis, realized this, and began a jam- and jelly-making project to supplement Jorge’s income.

Luis started the project because he dreamed of creating sources of employment and opportunities for the youth in his community.

Currently, seven CFCA scholarship students participate in the project. They operate a small business, selling the jars at a modest profit.

When combined with their scholarship, the students earn enough from the jam business to pay for their educational expenses.

Jorge Mario is working toward his bachelor’s degree in agroforestry. Most of Jorge Mario’s educational costs are for transportation to and from school, and he says the jam- and jelly-making business makes it possible for him to move forward. Read more

Jul 24 2012

Youth group’s fundraising to build 2 houses in Guatemala

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CFCA sponsors never cease to amaze us! They’re continually accomplishing everyday miracles through their compassion and support for people around the world.

In just one example, the Woodmont Christian Church youth group used a creative combination of cake and coffee sales, a Raise Funds Raise Hope campaign and a matching grant from the church’s outreach committee to raise more than $8,000 for CFCA’s project need fund.

These funds will help build two houses for families in San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala.

“When we return [to Guatemala] in 2014, our group would be very honored to meet the families and see the homes that were built with love from Nashville,” Emmie Thomas wrote to us in an email.

Other blog posts relating to Woodmont Christian Church:

Jul 22 2012

Parish group from Colorado finds loving reception in Guatemala

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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.

I find the group from Risen Christ Parish as hopeful and dynamic as its name. Here in Guatemala, we are deeply grateful for their love of our people, their presence among us, their example.

Seems like their long-term pastoral plan flows into a very natural outreach toward their neighbors at home in Colorado and in Guatemala.

These friends encountered a richly green and fertile country, but a country heavily burdened by social problems.

Entrusted with the good will and the economic help of their fellow parish members, they worked hard (sometimes under good rains) to offer three sponsored friends and their families a more dignified home. Read more

Jun 28 2012

Mayan calendars from a modern-day perspective

The Mayan civilization created several different calendars used long ago during the Mesoamerica civilization. The Maya had several sophisticated calendar systems, which are quite similar to the 12-month calendar cycle we use today.


Francisco, CFCA staff worker in Guatemala.

These calendars converged and ended on Dec. 21, 2012, although many experts believe the Maya thought this simply represented the end of one cycle and the start of another one.

Francisco Chavajay works in the auditing department for CFCA in Guatemala. Francisco is from the Mayan Tz¥utujil people and had these insights into Mayan calendars.

How does the Mayan calendar differ from the Gregorian calendar we use today?

The Maya had 20 calendars and in many of them their base number was 13. That number is a very important number in the Mayan calendars; as a comparison, 13 would be like the number 30 in the Gregorian calendar we use today.

For example, the “Cholq’ij,” or the lunar calendar, which consists of 20 months of 13 days each, has a cycle of 260 days. The Maya created the “Cholq’ij” calendar based on their observations of the moon¥s movements around the Earth.

The Ab’ is another Mayan calendar, similar to the Gregorian calendar we use today. The Ab’ calendar consists of 365 days in 18 months with 20 days in each month. Read more

Jun 18 2012

Reflections: Funeral Mass for Monsignor Gregory Schaffer

An estimated 12,000 to 15,000 people in Guatemala were in attendance June 6 for the funeral Mass and burial of Msgr. Gregory Schaffer, a longtime CFCA board member and mentor to staffers, volunteers and sponsors. Fr. Greg Schaffer's funeral

Bishop Gonzalo de Villa of the Diocese of Solola-Chimaltengo said at the time, “We are here for thanksgiving to God for Father Greg’s life; we thank the Lord for putting him as a pastor of San Lucas.”

We asked the following people to reflect on Father Greg’s life on the occasion of his funeral Mass.

Bob Hentzen, CFCA president and co-founder
I am happy and grateful to share a few memories:

I think it was 1968 when Father Greg was still a very young man. He came up to where I was teaching up in Huehuetenango [Guatemala] to work on his Spanish and Kakchiquel [Mayan language] at the school there.

I happened to meet him then. He always invited the missionaries in the country to come to San Lucas anytime we could, but in particular he liked to reserve July 4, Independence Day in the U.S., for a big wonderful gathering of missionaries, religious, diocesan and lay in San Lucas.

He would reserve a big boat and prepare a wonderful meal, and then we would basically go around the lake all day.

The ’60s, ’70s and early ’80s were so very difficult. What a miracle it was that when Father Stan Rother was martyred, Father Greg suggested to me, “Could we start the sponsorship program in Cerro de Oro?” Read more

Jun 11 2012

Sponsored child in Guatemalan community finds his own beat

CFCA began working with the Garifuna community in Guatemala about 20 years ago. The Garifuna have both African and Caribbean ancestry and have faced racial discrimination as well as other obstacles created by poverty.

(Read more about CFCA’s work with the Garifuna community here.)

Jamaire, a Garifuna child sponsored through CFCA, loves to play the drums as part of his cultural heritage. Our CFCA communications liaison in Guatemala, Luis Cocon, stopped by recently to interview Jamaire and his family.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

When I grow up I want to be a bookkeeper. I want to work hard and then come back to help my family. I will never forget or abandon my family.

What family traditions do you have that are unique to your culture?

The drums are special to us. They provide happiness and are part of any Garifuna ceremony.

We honor and remember our ancestors with drum music, food and family sharing.

If you could give a message to your sponsor, what would it be and why?

I would thank my sponsor for providing food for my family.

Interview with Jamaire’s mother, Maybelin

My name is Maybelin and I am Garifuna. On weekends I enjoy teaching children to read and write in the Garifuna language. I teach them in my home.

I do this because I want to preserve our traditions and our culture. It is sad to see these new generations lose our culture.

How did you hear about CFCA and sponsorship? Read her answer

May 25 2012

We mourn the passing of a longtime CFCA friend

UPDATE: Read our tribute to Fr. Greg on our website.

We mourn the passing of Msgr. Gregory Schaffer, or “Padre Gregorio” as he was otherwise known, and we also celebrate the gift he was for us.

Father Greg Schaffer Father Greg passed away late May 24 at age 78.

“We thank God for our loving friend and pastor Father Greg Schaffer,” said CFCA President and Co-founder Bob Hentzen in an email.

“Father Greg believed in CFCA from the very beginning. Not surprising ó he had known each of the founders long before CFCA was officially born. … I hold up the beautiful working relationship of CFCA with the parish of San Lucas Toliman as an example of love and respect for our church.”

Father Greg served for many years on the CFCA board and had a longtime ministry in San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala, where CFCAís Hermano Pedro and Atitlan projects are located.

He has lived and served in Guatemala since 1964.

Scott Wasserman, chair of the CFCA governing board, said Father Greg helped remind the board that sponsorship was far more than traditional charity.

It was about forming authentic relationships with families living in poverty, he said.

“When the board became caught up in budgets and policies, Father Greg drew us back to the lives of real people struggling heroically against tremendous odds,” he said. “His theology and work were one and the same.” Read more

May 14 2012

Enveloped in the love of Guatemalan sponsored children, families

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“Bob’s notes” are reports from CFCA President Bob Hentzen, who regularly accompanies mission awareness trip participants. You can see Bobís full update on his Facebook page.

The sinsonte birds are singing their hearts out, welcoming the early rains. They also welcome 35 CFCA sponsors, their hearts ready to learn and to share.

Excited children, elderly and families lift their hearts in prayers of gratitude for their sponsors.

In nine different regions across Guatemala, a dedicated CFCA staff serves an estimated 89,000 children and elderly. More than 500 families wait in hope to belong to CFCA.

God knows this is sacred ground, made so by the sacrifice of countless martyrs and the daily sacrifices of humble, hard-working people.

We are here to listen. May we see much more than poverty. May we see firsthand the realities of our families.

May we remain open to learn about their heroic efforts to walk that path out of poverty, hand in hand with our sponsors.

Remembering the martyrs

We remember in a special way the testimony and martyrdom of Bishop Juan Jose Gerardi 14 years ago: April 26, 1998.

Our attendance at Holy Mass at the Cathedral de la Asuncion Guatemala City draws our attention immediately to the thousands of names, mostly indigenous, etched for years into the massive pillars surrounding this historical structure, etched for life into our hearts. Read more