Tag: Henry Flores

Jul 6 2012

CFCA Communications Centers: Santa Ana, El Salvador

Henry, CFCA communications center in El Salvador

Henry Flores, director of the CFCA Communications Center in El Salvador

Although we call them centers, which sound like big operations, they actually consist of one or a few local staff members. They help us find and feature stories from our sponsored children and aging friends.

We’d like to introduce you to each communications center liaison, continuing with Henry Flores, director of the CFCA Communications Center in El Salvador.

On Jan. 10, 1981, at 3 p.m., my dad, brother and I were at an ice cream shop. My brother was 13 years old and I was 9.

We were eating a vanilla banana split when we heard high-caliber gunshots accompanied by strong detonations, similar to what grenades sound like in Hollywood movies.

Employees started to close the place. Other customers ran out. My dad looked at us, and I saw fear in his eyes.

We ran outside. Gray smoke was in the air. I felt his arm around me. It did not feel like a hug; it felt like protection. I did not know my life was changing to an unexpected future.

That was the day that a 12-year civil war started in my country, El Salvador. The local army base, about two blocks away from the ice cream shop, was under attack.

The civil war caused pain, death and the migration of thousands of Salvadorans, including me.
Read more

May 31 2012

Finding light in the darkness: Helping sponsored children in El Salvador

Henry Flores, director of the CFCA communications center in El Salvador, recently traveled to our Kansas City office. During his stay he received training and also taught us about his work with our Salvadoran colleagues. This is the transcript of a speech he presented to the CFCA staff.

Henry Flores

Henry Flores

Note: The names of the individuals mentioned in this story have been changed to protect their identity and privacy.

Francisca’s story

It is 5 a.m.

Francisca, mother of a 2-year-old boy and a 7-month-old baby, is waiting for the early public transportation that will bring her from her humble community to the hospital for children in San Salvador, El Salvador’s capital.

While she waits on the road, a speeding truck crashes into her, killing her and her 2-year-old. The crash also leaves her baby highly injured.

The driver runs away, leaving behind his crashed truck.

To this date, no reports have been received from the local authorities about his identity or current location.

A few days later, the baby died at a public hospital.

Francisca was on her way to the hospital in San Salvador to try to get one space, along with hundreds of other mothers, just for her baby to see a doctor. Read more

Aug 23 2010

Education sets you free

By Henry Flores, director of the CFCA Communication Center in El Salvador

What is the value of higher education or a university degree if you can’t find a job?

In many parts of the world, students go through extreme situations just to go to school. They struggle with monthly tuition, poor nutrition, lack of access to technology and research tools for assignments, and, in some cases, access to a nearby school.

Mauricio, a sponsored child in El Salvador.

Mauricio, a sponsored child and student in El Salvador.

But if it is this difficult to go to elementary and high school, it becomes much harder to access college education. High tuition in private universities and limited access to public universities make the dreams of many teenagers seem impossible. In spite of all these burdens, many have enough determination to obtain a college degree.

However, having a college degree does not necessarily guarantee that you will have a job. It doesn’t even mean that you will find a job. After studying for years, investing in that education and finally graduating, just to discover that there is no job available is the reality for many students worldwide.

If this is the case, why is a degree important? Because education sets you free. A developed society is based largely on the fact that its citizens are educated or are being educated. Education allows people to make thoughtful decisions, based upon their rights, their benefits and†their knowledge. Education has the capacity to open a whole new world. Maybe that knowledge will not be useful at the moment, but it helps the individual to build a better future by making intelligent decisions, passing their knowledge down to future generations and reaching new horizons they never thought possible.

I remember two years ago meeting Antonio, who was 38 years old at the time. He is married to Ana Margarita, and they have three kids: Herber, Bryan and Tania. Antonio suffered from poliomyelitis (polio, the viral disease that can only be prevented by immunization) and had a leg disability. In spite of his reality and problems, he understood the need for an education and, with much effort and support from his family, he graduated as a computer and network specialist.

Even though he had not found a job for more than a year, he is a better man who can offer himself as an example for his own children and whose wife is proud of him. He can lead the family toward a better future. He is ready for that one opportunity to rise. He is now transmitting the importance of education to his children, and he and his children can make better decisions for their country in the future.

Education is the first step toward a better future for people. Education is the center where all possibilities become connected and a door to opportunities opens up. For some, those doors can be smaller, and opportunities can be much less, but still, being educated means being ready to conquer the world we want for ourselves, when that one chance comes by.

Aug 9 2010

‘Encuentro’ unites CFCA staff from different countries

An update from Henry Flores, director of the Communication Center in El Salvador, during July 24 and 25. Peter and Teddy, mentioned in the update, will be joining with Walk2Gether shortly.

July 24

It is 3:30 a.m. and I’ve just arrived at the Bolivia International Airport of Santa Cruz, on my way to Cochabamba, Bolivia. The CFCA’s Hope for a Family Program continues to build options for its members into their own and individual process to self-sustainability; this is why, during this week, staff members from different countries will get together in what we call ‘Encuentro’ ó encounter ó where we will learn and teach each other about the many initiatives and programs being implemented at the different projects.

It is very exciting to be part of this worldwide community of compassion, and I am looking forward to this week of learning, feeling excited about the many ideas, projects and programs that will be developed from here to all the families of CFCA around the world.

July 25

After a very good night of sleep to recover the energy for travelling more than 24 hours yesterday, this morning I met Peter, CFCA coordinator in Nairobi, and Teddy, project coordinator in Uganda. We had a wonderful conversation and learned from each other about the challenges that our countries, and especially women in each of them, have to face.

Teddy is a very young smart girl who, to my surprise, had been sponsored by CFCA and now she is the project coordinator. And Peter, a 40-year-old man, has been working very hard in creating opportunities for the mothers in his project to find a path to self-sufficiency.

I am always surprised by the potential that is unlocked by CFCA in each of its staff members. God has blessed us all to be part of this community.

Feb 4 2010

An endearing spirit

By Henry Flores, director of the Communications Center in El Salvador

Manuel was a 16-year-old boy, living in El Salvador, who, in spite of his severe muscular dystrophy condition, lived with hope for the future to come.

ìI want to be a radio technician,î he said, ìI like it, and I can learn.î

Manuel and his grandmother, Mercedes

His 85-year-old grandmother and only relative, Mercedes, kindly smiled and believed in his words, ìManuelito learns very fast and has fixed a little TV which he connects to a car battery because we have no electricity.î

A few weeks ago, after complications from hepatitis and kidney problems, Manuel passed away, leaving a great example to the world he left behind. Through his shining personality and kind smile, he was able to enter people’s hearts, which motivated many to sponsor more children in his community, others to contribute to the construction of four homes for families who were living under cardboard and plastic in the area, and sparked the creation of a new fund for children with special needs.

Because Manuel was the first sponsored person in that area, the CFCA staff and Manuelís community members saw him as the ìfatherî of their community. In his honor, the CFCA community he lived in changed its name from Community La Linea (train tracks) to Community Manuel.

Deep in my heart, I feel Manuel had a mission, and he accomplished it. He made us aware of the problems of his neighbors, and CFCA was able to help many because of him.


I pray to the good Lord to help me find my mission in this world, as well as the understanding to carry it with the same love, hope and joy that Manuel had.

Editor’s note: The winter issue of “CFCA Spirit,” mailed this month, features a story about Manuel and Mercedes. CFCA did not receive news of Manuel’s death until after the publication was printed.

Dec 30 2009

Walking with hope

Henry Flores, director of the Communications Center in El Salvador, traveled to Guatemala for the start of Walk2gether. Below is his reflection of that first day.

About two years ago, Bob Hentzen, CFCA president and co-founder, announced his desire to walk from Guatemala to Chile. Dreams, plans, logistics, organization, hope and physical training started to be in the minds, souls and bodies of thousands of staff members and families around the world.

Time has gone fast and, yesterday, we began Walk2gether, a pilgrimage of 8,000 miles through 12 countries in Central and South America. At 2:30 a.m., hundreds of people were walking around the halls of the CFCA center in San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala, excited for the pilgrimage to start.

Waking up to the sound of the marimba, traditional music of Guatemala, was fantastic, the vibes of the music touched my heart. As Bob took his first step into the walk, fireworks, firecrackers, flowers, smiles and tears were merging all together into a sense of deep spirituality as sponsors, staff members and CFCA families were connecting to the road, connecting to Mother Nature.

What an inspirational message it was for me to see how the families were coming out of their homes or gathering along the highway to greet Bob and the pilgrims, some other ones were walking for miles and miles with us, and when I was looking at the road ahead of us, I only thought of how much more we need to do, of how many more people we need to reach out to.

The first 25 miles of the walk are finished. There are 7,975 more to go, lots of challenges to be faced on the road, thousands of families to meet, and the promise of the Hope for a Family sponsorship program is carrying us and calling all of us involved in CFCA to continue our mission to help create a path to out of poverty and self-sufficiency for our sponsored families, with dignity and love.

Jul 16 2009

Serious fun: part 4

By Kelly Demo, CFCA preacher

Soccer has grown from an obscure game played by a handful of kids to being the most popular, organized sport for children in the U.S. With more than 3 million youth registered each year in formal leagues, soccer has firmly established itself as part of the American childhood.

Without knowing it, kids who play soccer here in the U.S. are aligning themselves with the millions, perhaps billions, of children worldwide who play soccer (more commonly known as ìfootballî). However, these kids in developing countries donít always experience soccer with minivans, uniforms, coaches and juice boxes waiting for them when they are done. These are the kids who find any round object and a group of friends and play wherever they can find an open space. They run barefoot, kicking the ball through a goal they have fashioned out of scrap metal or their imaginations.

Henry Flores, director of the CFCA Communications Center in El Salvador, says that CFCA staff will often organize soccer games with the scholarship students because they find this to be a great way for staff to connect with the youth.

ìWith these games we are telling the students, ëWe want to spend time with you!í î Henry also observes that soccer is only fun when you play with others. It is a community sport. It unifies responsibility, ability and discipline.

Marissa Gargaro plays soccer during a mission awareness trip to El Salvador.“Plus, you donít need lots of equipment, just a 25-cent ball and a small space in your community. You often see children in the different communities who spend hours playing street soccer. When a vehicle is passing trough you hear, ëGAME OFF / GAME ON!í to let the children know.”

Often, when there have been teen mission awareness trip groups, the staff will organize soccer games because it is a simple way to break the ice, create community and strengthen bonds of friendship. “And,” says Henry, “You need no translator for it.”

In your next letter, have your soccer kid ask their sponsored friend about “football” in their country. Do they enjoy playing? Does their country have a national soccer team? Talk with them about the idea that they are in solidarity with their friend simply by playing soccer. What similarities does your child see in the way their friend plays football, and how soccer is experienced here in the States? What are the differences?

Related links
Serious fun, part 1
Serious fun, part 2
Serious fun: Creative play

Jun 23 2009

What is the good news?

By Rev. Kelly Demo, CFCA preacher

Time and again in scripture, and in my life, I find that people define God through the lens of their own life. Scripture says Jesus came to bring good news to the poor. On my trip to El Salvador, I asked several people what this good news is.

Their answers told me much about where they are in their lives and their relationship with God.

Liberation and salvation
I first asked this of a charismatic priest who celebrates Mass in the town of Tacuba. He is loved by the community, and sees himself as a servant of the people. What is the good news Jesus brings to the poor? ìLiberaciÛn y salvaciÛn.î

He said that without God we are all poor, and that we are all equal in the eyes of God. As a priest, it is his job to pastor everyone in the church, both wealthy and poor. So, the good news for him is equality.

A real presence
For Henry Flores, the good news was when Jesus said, ìI will always be with you.î Henry is the director of the CFCA Communication Center in El Salvador and has been a project director in El Salvador for years. He said that prayers are answered every day in very tangible ways, be it money, food, or just a helping hand. ìSomeone needs help and help always comes.î

It was Henryís job for many years to make sure that the children receive what they need. It is natural that the good news for Henry is that real presence, the help of Jesus in their daily lives.

A better life waits
Tim Clancy sponsors 10 children through CFCA. He is a deeply generous and caring man. The good news for the poor in Timís eyes is that, while things here on Earth are bad, a better life awaits them with God in heaven. Tim talked a lot about his frustration at not being able to do more, despite his multiple sponsorships. But the good news for Tim is knowing that God will make it better for the poor in the next life.

0109HenryFloresCH587523(6)Everyone is important to God
I asked Rosa, a 34-year-old mother of three boys, two of whom are sponsored. She is the poor for whom the good news was given. Her answer took my breath away. ìIt is that God will never throw me away like an old piece of bread.î

The good news that Jesus brings to Rosa is that, no matter what the world sees when they look at her, she knows that, in Godís eyes, she is important.

I am deeply grateful for those I have met on my journey who have shared their stories with me. It is in these stories that I find the good news.

What do you think is the good news Jesus brings to the poor?

Jun 17 2009

The courage and love of a father

By Henry Flores, director of the communications center in El Salvador

In June, we celebrate Fatherís Day in many countries in Latin America, and it’s in these countries where millions of children don’t have access to proper education, nutrition, health and unfortunately, many of them donít even have a father.

More often than not, the typical Latin American family has only one parent at home ñ the mother. This stark reality is based on many factors, including the oppressive poverty and cultural standards.

The precarious financial situation of many families forces fathers to migrate from the rural areas into the cities or other countries. Others work away from home and return only a couple days per month, and still others simply become part of the statistics of those who donít care for their children.

In spite of this reality, there are fathers who stay to face the challenges and burdens of their life and families. They stay home with their wife and children to be together, to be a family, instilling in them values, creating awareness and helping to build a strong society by offering united families.

At CFCA, we are blessed to witness the courage of many of these men who strive every single day to be good examples of a hard-working spirit, a family leader and loving paternal figure, not only for their own children, but for other children in their communities.

HectorI recently met Hector and his wife, Maria Esperanza. They are raising five children. Hector works in agriculture, and with the help of small loans, he works 2.5 acres of land, planting corn and beans, producing enough to sell part of it to pay his debts and keeping a little of his production for the family consumption. Hector travels by horse for almost two hours to the land he rents to grow his crops. He usually works long days, under very high temperatures and extreme humidity, starting early in the morning and returning home late at night.

Hector has a fierce love for his wife and children. He protects them and ensures that they have what they need. And, education is his first priority. ìSometimes my children help me in my plantation, but school is first, so I work alone most of the time.î
Hector's family
The financial situation of the family is difficult, but the dreams of this father for his children are the motivation he needs to work hard. ìThings can be difficult, I work hard. It is my hope that my children will be educated and have a better life, and I just need to work harder,î Hector said.

We praise our Lord for the gift of fatherhood, for the opportunity to be loved by a father and I thank You, my Lord, for the blessings of being a father.

The third Sunday of June marks Fatherís Day in many countries worldwide, including the United States. Today, June 17, those in El Salvador and Guatemala celebrate their fathers. We, at CFCA, would like to honor all fathers, including Henry Flores and Hector, for the courage and strength they provide to their families.

Read about Danielís father, who strives to see his children graduate.

Apr 21 2009

CFCA’s community of compassion

By Henry Flores, director of the CFCA Communication Center in El Salvador

When Ines, 88, lost her home, Raymunda, 84, invited Ines to stay on her property. The two are good friends now. Ines said of Raymunda’s kindness, “Raymunda offered me not only her land, but she offered me her heart.”

Ines and Raymunda are living examples of CFCA’s community of compassion.

Read about the Benedictine students’ spring break in El Salvador.