In the United States we still have a few months before we celebrate Labor Day, but many countries, including Costa Rica, the Philippines, Kenya, El Salvador and others, observed the holiday on May 1. In honor of Labor Day, Rafael Villalobos, coordinator for Unbound in Costa Rica, shared a reflection about his own work at Unbound.
I want to start by sharing a quote from Confucius, who said, “Choose a job that you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
This has been my work experience with Unbound.
It’s not just a job, it’s a mission, a lifestyle, something that inspires and gives meaning to life.
The Labor Day holiday, celebrated every year on the first Monday in September, honors the social and economic achievements of American workers.
As we pay tribute today to the contributions workers have made to the United States, let’s also remember workers everywhere who struggle to find productive and meaningful work.
By Leticia Salazar Fonseca, CFCA social worker in Costa Rica
|Leticia delivering mail to children in Desamparados|
My name is Leticia, and I have been serving CFCA for more than eight years. It is early in the morning, and I get up thanking our Lord for another day of life. I put my life in His merciful hands as I prepare a cup of coffee.
To be part of the CFCA team has been an immense blessing for me. We feel that what we do is not just a job: it is a mission in our life. I get ready to visit communities in the morning and to distribute benefits in the afternoon. Today we will visit the communities of Desamparados, Los Alpes and La Managuita.
In our home visits, we offer hope and dignity to all our sponsored families. This is why, early in the morning, we arrive at the community of Los Alpes. With the help of the mothers, we prepared breakfast for a little over 100 sponsored children and, while we do that, they all are talking about the trip to the water park they enjoyed last week. They had the opportunity to share with their friends and to enjoy the pools, horse rides, trails, etc. We had 12 buses full of smiling angels who waved at anybody who would look at them. To get out of their violent and aggressive communities and to be able to enjoy a healthy environment has a great meaning and value for them.
While we were with the children, we were notified that one of our sponsored elderly, Jose, had lost his home and belongings in a fire. Apparently robbers broke into his house the night before, while he slept at his relativesí, and decided to burn it to erase any evidence. We went to visit Jose and found him sadly looking through the rubble of his house and remembering his 50 years of marriage.
Last year, Joseís wife passed away, and this has him very depressed, ìI lost little things and memories that one saves,î Jose said with tears in his eyes. ìGod loves me; he did not let me die in this fire. No matter what happens, we must trust Him, because better things will come.î
Jose lost eight guitars he handmade. ìThe material things burned down but the formula to make my guitars cannot be taken away, it is saved in my memory,î Jose told us. Amidst the pain, it is incredible to see the solidarity of the sponsored families in the area who were already trying to find clothing and goods to help Jose. CFCA is already finding ways to support him, too.
Dear Blog readers,
Greetings from Bhagalpur!
My name is Joachim Hansdak. Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to acquaint you of the journey I have been taking to visit families for the last two years. There is wonderful mixture of hardship and thrill in this work, and the work itself is very much fulfilling. It is my pleasure to give you the real stories, photos and other related information.
I have not deliberately avoided writing about hardships in this entry, lest the readers are moved with sympathy, but honestly I can say the eastern half of the project is relatively safe and smooth when traveling. The western half of the project is bit of concern, though to date nothing untoward has happen. But when I read newspapers, I do find some mishaps in these very places and roads I had just crossed. I just believe ìGodís work done in Godís way will never fail,î and perhaps this is the reason I have yet to come across any hardships.
Challenges in reaching out to families
Traveling to the subproject office does not pose much of a problem, but when I visit individual sponsored childrenís family home, it is. Further it also depends on what part of the year one is traveling. May and June are scorching months with temperatures soaring as high as 38 degrees Celcius or 101 degrees Fahrenheit.
|Some of the roads Joachim must travel can be very narrow and bumpy, which can make traveling difficult and time-consuming.|
Most of the villages are situated in rural, hilly and forest area. The path leading to these villages gets narrower and narrower. Majority of sponsored families are living scattered in this forest and hilly areas. So reaching the sponsored familiesí homes is very difficult, difficult in the sense that it is time consuming.
Monsoon commence from mid-June to mid-September. Since the roads are not concrete the motorcycle can get stuck in the loose soil. The families are engaged in cultivation so I avoid visiting for this period of time. Still if urgency is there I visit the family come what may, sometimes I leave my motorcycle in one village and walk to reach the concerned family.
Hospitality is warm as ever, and I forget the tiring journey I have just taken. I get to see elderly people working in the field, double or triple my age. Nothing can be more embarrassing than to say I am tired from the journey. There are some times I donít find them at home because information of my visit failed to reach them. Also, some people do some unskilled jobs, which may happen to be available on the very day I visit, and people cannot resist a handsome wage of Rs 80.00 (US$1.77).
Mode of transport
Most of the visits I have made to the subprojects have been by motorcycle, with occasional walking. But when we travel in group we take our office jeep. Of course there is a big cost difference between journeying by motor cycle and Jeep.
The furthest subproject Chirkee (CKI) is around 264 Kilometers and time taken to reach it is six hours. By the time one reaches there, one will have visited or passed by no less than a dozen subprojects. Motorcycles give one a liberty to choose multiple routes, and that can reduce the cost, but time spent traveling is more or less the same.
Frequency of visit
Apart from urgent visit, on average I visit all the subprojects twice in a year. Apart from my personal visits, I join the team visits also. The subproject staff usually do most of the family visits as and when required.
Without being immodest, on my personal visits, safety has never been a problem. I have grown up with bad roads, rain, thunderstorms, scorching heat, chilling temperatures, traffic jams, noise and pollution. My own family members and others in my village work under these trying condition. As a young boy just few years ago, I had also worked in the field under these very conditions. Yes, I would say I am ill at ease for safety reasons when I have traveled with Ilene (a CFCA-Kansas staff member) or for that matter traveling with mission awareness trip participants. Now that cell phones are operational everywhere, my concerns have eased somewhat. As I noted earlier, the western half of the project continues to be challenging. I make sure that journey is completed before dusk.
In the end, I would like to ask what is a Pilgrimage? Who do I see the in the form of poverty-ridden and needy person? Who do I visit in hospitals? For whom do I devout my time and energy? What is “living oneís faith”? Come and see a piece of heaven created here.
Each new trip taken unfolds a new experience, a new facet like a well-cut diamond: whichever way one views it, there are new colors to behold.
Bhagalpur field staff
By Natasha Sims, blog administrator
Of all the roles I fill at CFCA in the communications department, the one I love the most is overseeing the CFCA blog, which means I plan the stories you read, edit everything and occasionally cajole my co-workers into writing something for the blog.
My goal for every post is to enhance your sponsorship experience (for those of you who are sponsors). For those of you who are not, I hope that each entry is a small window into the CFCA community of compassion. I value each and every one of our readers. These posts are my thanks for reading.
I began working for CFCA when I graduated from college two years ago, and I am continually impressed by this organization. I love the stories of the sponsored individuals who heroically fight poverty each and every day. I cheer for the sponsors when they open their hearts to someone they have never met. And I applaud all our staff members who work diligently every day to serve your friends.
After two years, it still never ceases to amaze me how hard our field staff work. They don’t have “office hours;” they have “every hours.” And I think they deserve our gratitude and admiration for their diligence.
This Labor Day, I want to honor how dedicated these men and women are to serving those living in poverty. This week through the blog, I invite you to walk with them and experience their determination firsthand.
I hope you enjoy the journey.
Today, much of the international community is celebrating Labor Day, also known as International Workers’ Day. Labor Day recognizes the social and economic achievements of laborers. Though much has been accomplished for workers, including safer working conditions and representation through labor unions, workers like those in Tanzanian rock quarries still labor under very difficult conditions.
Mary Dawn Reavey, the Dar es Salaam project coordinator in Tanzania, gives us a look at the working conditions of people who break rocks for a living.
Story by Reavey, and video by Freddie (sponsored) and Emma (formerly sponsored).
Freddie, Emma and I interviewed and filmed some guardians of sponsored children who break rocks for a living. Because many parents die from AIDS, their children are often raised by guardians such as uncles, aunts, brothers or sisters.
At a quarry outside Dar es Salaam, workers break rocks near the road to be more accessible to potential customers. To protect them from the blazing sun, the workers construct a covering with sticks and old flour sacks.
They pound rocks for at least eight hours a day, starting around 6 a.m. to avoid the intense midday heat. CFCA is helping many of these guardians start small businesses, allowing them to significantly reduce the time they spend breaking stones, or stop altogether.