Tag: mothers groups

Maria Sabina and her son Ronny in their home in El Salvador.
Mar 16 2016

A home for her heart and work for her hands

Maria Sabina and her son Ronny in their home in El Salvador.

Maria Sabina and her son Ronny in their home in El Salvador.

The next time you are at a child’s birthday party and the kids are swinging wildly at a piñata, take a moment to think about Maria Sabina. That brightly colored donkey, fish or bird might just have been made by her own two hands.

The mother of a child in the Unbound sponsorship program, Maria Sabina lives with her husband and two sons in a village in north-central El Salvador. Her son Ronny, 10, has been sponsored by Jackie in Florida since 2012.

Maria Sabina belongs to the Unbound mothers group in her community. As in other locations throughout the Unbound world, her group provides a structure for the mothers of sponsored children to come together and offer each other moral and emotional support.

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A woman wears a sign saying, "I am a drunkard," as part of a mothers group discussion about discrimination and words that hurt.
Jan 18 2016

Honest discussion about discriminatory words

A woman wears a sign saying, "I am a drunkard," as part of a mothers group discussion about discrimination and words that hurt.

A woman wears a sign saying, “I am a drunkard,” as part of a mothers group discussion about discrimination and words that hurt.

Fat. Illiterate. Drunk. These are just some of the words a group of mothers in Guatemala called each other during a recent workshop. But there was no malice behind their words. Rather it was an exercise created to open up discussion about how words like these can affect a person.

There are more than 10,500 Unbound mothers groups around the world. When children are sponsored through Unbound, their mothers have the opportunity to join a group of women from their communities. The groups provide a space for mothers to connect with others who face similar challenges and find solutions together.

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Aug 24 2012

Good news around the CFCA world

Just a few of the awesome ways that sponsored children, aging friends and their families are serving as agents of change in their local communities!

1) Recycling efforts in southern Guatemala

Recycling in a CFCA community in GuatemalaA CFCA community of approximately 1,800 sponsored friends has had great success with a recent recycling initiative.

In just two months they were able to raise $1,100 from picking up and recycling plastic bottles!

Omar Tojin, a CFCA staff worker in this community, said that 90 percent of all the sponsored friends in the program are participating.

The money raised from the recycling initiative goes to buy wheelchairs for sponsored children and elderly who have special needs.

2) Eco-stoves in Suyapa, Honduras

By the end of August, 195 families in Suyapa, Honduras, can breathe easy, thanks to 195 brand new eco-stoves being built by CFCAís Suyapa project.

What’s an eco-stove, you might ask? Great question! Read more

Nov 22 2010

CFCA board member travels to India

Carolyn Zimmerman, a CFCA board member, recently went on a mission awareness trip to India. CFCA President and Co-founder Bob Hentzen took time out from Walk2gether in Peru to attend the Mothers Annual Conference in Hyderabad. While there, the Hyderabad project held a Walk2gether solidarity walk.

1) How did you hear of CFCA, and how did you become a board member?
I read a newspaper story about CFCA and knew that a co-worker and friend had recently become a sponsor. I decided with my husband, Jon, to sponsor a young girl in Guatemala, a country we had visited about 20 years ago.

Coincidentally, a few months later, Sister Therese Wetta, a former CFCA board member and a classmate from Saint Mary College in Leavenworth, asked if she could nominate me for the CFCA board. I agreed, and after making my written application, I was selected.

2) What was the Walk2gether solidarity walk like?

Carolyn Zimmerman, CFCA board member

Carolyn Zimmerman

The solidarity walk happened in Hyderabad and our traveling team was expecting to participate. However, there were some security concerns at the time and it was decided that instead we would meet up with Bob and the Walk2gether solidarity walkers at the Mothers Annual Conference, which began late morning.

3) How would you describe the mothers groups and the Indian news media’s coverage of the conference?

These groups are very interesting and inspiring to me. I believe they are an important development in CFCAís hopes for the future of the sponsored children. The women are achieving a new dignity and confidence as they learn practical skills and ways to navigate their world to benefit their children. There is a sense of community and common purpose.

At the annual conference, there was quite a bit of media attention, especially because of Bobís presence and the participation of the stateís Home Minister, who is evidently supportive of CFCA in Hyderabad. She recognizes the value of the organization and the progressive nature of the work.

4) Had you ever been to India before? If not, what were you expecting and how did the experience measure up to your expectations?

This was my first trip to India. My knowledge of the country was ñ and still is ñ limited. My sources were a childhood book, The Secret Garden, whose heroine Mary returned to England after her parents died of cholera in India, and the movie Gandhi along with some of that great manís writings. I had also been reading a recent novel, Shantaram.

Stories of overpopulation and abject poverty have long dominated Western media; those stories and the current situation with Pakistan led me to be a little anxious about the trip.

The experience confirmed some old impressions of India ó teeming cities, in-your-face poverty, abysmal slums, and child beggars swarming among the cars at traffic stops ó but also revealed many beauties.

I appreciated the co-existence of many religious traditions. In Calcutta we were awakened before 5 a.m. by an Islamic call to prayer from a nearby mosque; then we heard the sweet singing of our Catholic sister hosts in the upstairs convent chapel. Passersby on the streets wore distinctive dress, identifying them as Muslim or Hindu.

Color was everywhere, especially in the womenís saris and other traditional dresses worn daily. On a humorous note, I was often asked by families if I would be in a picture with their children; I must have been the whitest person theyíd ever seen.

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May 10 2010

The wisdom of mothers

We believe in the wisdom of mothers.

That’s a powerful statement, but one that we believe wholeheartedly. Mothers know what’s best for their families, and we are here to help support them in their determination to provide a better life for their children. One way we support them is through mothers groups.

The idea of mothers groups began in the Hyderabad, India, project. (For more information about mothers groups, watch these videos.) Mothers groups have since spread to our projects in Central and South America, the Caribbean, Mexico and Africa. The women are proving themselves capable, successful and supportive. They are wonderful role models for their young children.

On today, International Mothers Day, we want to highlight the accomplishments of some of the women in the St. Anthony mothers group. Head over to our Facebook page to see photos and read more about their success.

Members of the St. Anthony mothers group

Mar 8 2010

Kenya mothers group makes shoes

By Janet Tinsley, project director, Africa region

On a sunny day in the informal settlement of Kibera in Nairobi, the Vision Mothers group members file into a small courtyard in front of one of their memberís homes for their monthly meeting. The 30 women and one man, all wearing the same cloth wrapped around their waists, heads or shoulders, find seats on benches in the shady areas of the courtyard and open the meeting.

About two years ago, the Nairobi project team introduced the idea of mothers groups to the mothers of the Kibera subproject and asked them to begin forming groups and register with the local government. The project staff intentionally left these responsibilities in the hands of the mothers, insisting that they choose for themselves which group they would join, raise the funds for registration (around $20), and complete the registration process before asking the project for further support.

At the Nairobi project, the mothers group model operates from the basic belief that mothers are capable, resourceful people.

“We realized that whenever we called a parent meeting, it was the mothers who showed up,” Peter Ndungo, Nairobi project coordinator, said. “In our culture, the mothers are the ones [who are] most concerned with the well-being of children, so it made the most sense to work with them.”

At todayís meeting, the topic for discussion was finding a space to rent for their shoemaking business. Earlier this year, the group started learning to make and sell shoes as a way to add to their group loan fund.

The Vision Mothers came up with the unique idea for the shoemaking business through trial and error. Their original idea was to start a trash removal service in their community, but they soon realized that there were already many other groups doing this.

“We didnít want conflict with the other groups, so we decided to change our business idea,” the group chairperson explains.

Shoemaking, a craft that is typically dominated by men in Kenya, is a nontraditional endeavor for the women. Nonetheless, the Vision Mothers saw shoemaking as an opportunity to make good profits and provide a much needed commodity for their community, but CFCA families are only some of the many customers they hope to serve in Kibera.

Some tools of the shoemaking trade

Some tools of the shoemaking trade

With the sale of their first batch of shoes, the group made a profit of about $130, and in the future, they hope to use the profits to start a resource and training center that would include a meeting hall and computer training for the members and the community.

Today is International Women’s Day! Read (and watch!) more inspiring stories about the women of CFCA:

Strength and power
An opportunity for women(Part 1)
Support in a time of need (Part 2)
Mothers share their talents to improve their community (Part 3)
Creating role models close to home (Part 4)

Oct 27 2009

Dreams come true for La Realidad

By Jeri Blanch, CFCA sponsor

Last year I had the privilege of going on a mission awareness trip to El Salvador to visit my sponsored children. One of the communities we visited was La Realidad, which had grown up around the town dump. The people ate scraps of food and used items from the dump. Their houses were made of cardboard. In order to find any type of employment, the parents had to leave the area to work. That meant that the children were left unattended during the day. School attendance was basically non-existent. Crime, including violent crime and murder, was rampant. The people lived without hope in the most abject poverty.

The turning point came about seven years ago when CFCA started working there. Food was provided to the families of sponsored children. The children started going to school and were required to attend extra tutoring classes after school. A soccer team was formed. Sheet-metal housing replaced the cardboard. As money became available, the sheet-metal houses were replaced by more substantial cinder-block homes, one family at a time.

Mothers display bedding they made.When we were there last year, CFCA and the parents were getting ready to embark on a new venture. The mothers wanted to be able to work within their own community so they could look after their own children, as well as become financially self-sufficient. It was decided that learning to sew would be a way to accomplish both goals. CFCA was going to purchase the sewing machines and the first batch of material and provide someone to train them. After that, the women would purchase additional material with the profits earned from the sale of their finished products.

This year, I returned to El Salvador on a mission awareness trip. We went back to the community of La Realidad, so I had the opportunity to see the progress that has been made there. The women have been trained to make bedsheets, purses, hats, pillows and other similar items. They have the sewing machines in their homes, so even the mothers with very small children are able to both work and tend to their children. As a group, they set their own monthly goals, which they have consistently met. A certain amount of the money they earn is placed in a savings account, and they are taught how to most effectively manage their money.

Clothing the El Salvador mothers group made.Each of the women in turn stood up and told us what this project means to them. They are excited not just about what they have accomplished so far, but they are very excited about the future, both for themselves and for their children. They are looking forward to learning how to make school uniforms and other articles of clothing. The one father who has decided to participate wants to specialize in tailoring. They are hoping for an expanded market for their finished products and are thinking about ways to accomplish that.

In the community of La Realidad, which translates as “The Reality” in English, the dreams of the sponsored families are indeed becoming the reality, thanks to CFCA.

Oct 19 2009

Bob’s notes – Visit to India

Mission awareness trip to India
Oct. 2-13, 2009

The drought this year and just recently the worst flooding in 100 years have caused serious problems for families such as father Narsing, mother Radhika , their 7-year-old sponsored daughter, Archana, and her 5-year-old brother, Pradeep. They plant mainly rice on a 3-acre plot. The family also cares for the grandparents. We are indeed honored to be associated with this beautiful family.

At the inauguration of the CFCA Community Centre in Balanagar Zone-Subproject JGG, we enjoyed a large fiesta. Sponsors handed out Christmas presents. Especially impactful for the sponsors were the 100 or so sponsored girls living at the Divine Word Home. Just a short time ago, they were the throwaway children, the rag pickers in the garbage dumps of Hyderabad. They not only know their sponsorís name, they also know their CFCA ID number.

After telling us her sponsorís name, Veronica said:

“Our golden age began when Mr. Prakash and Mr. Suresh visited us in August 2002. They saw our poverty and our need. Soon CFCA started to look for sponsors. This has helped us leave our rag picking. Now we are attending a prestigious English medium school. We promise you that we will remember you always in our prayers and that we will make good use of this precious chance you are giving us Ö so that we will be able to help others as you help us today.”

What itís all about
Mothers groups in India
At our project in Hyderabad, mothers of sponsored children are taking leadership roles to help their families and communities. More than 600 mothers groups and 10,000 members help manage and operate CFCA programs in Hyderabad and outlying areas. Mothers groups join with social workers to assess needs and design benefit plans. Besides giving mothers a voice in the sponsorship program, the groups help raise the status of women in their communities. Savings plans and low-cost loans to fund small business startups or meet critical family needs are also part of the groups. CFCA currently impacts the lives of more than 11,500 children, youth, aging and their families here.

Visit to Subproject CCP
We heard testimony by a young woman, Jeevan, who is a former sponsored girl and now works as a professional staff nurse. Remarkably, Jeevan herself sponsors a little boy named Malesh. Jeevan is Catholic and Malesh is Hindu. We also heard a high-energy speech by a mother who, before CFCA involvement, was so shy she could not leave her house. Now she is more confident and very active in her mothers group.

Janagam subproject
Bob with his sponsored child and her familyIn Addabata village, I was able to visit my own sponsored child, Archana, together with her mom, dad and little brother. They are a young farm family struggling first with drought and now with flooding. They traveled the 5 kilometers (3 miles) from their home to the main highway on their aging scooter.

After lunch at the major seminary, we visited the 37 aging and 56 children at the leper colony at Karunapuram. The enthusiasm of these lepers and recovering lepers is inspiringóreminds me of recently canonized St. Damien of Molokai.

Visit to CFCA Project Warangal
The Warangal project has started to form mothers groups and at present, there are 65 groups. They have monthly meetings to discuss topics like health, cleanliness, livelihood programs, developing kitchen gardens, childrenís education and community activities. Each mother deposits 50 rupees (about $1) into an account every month and CFCA matches that amount. The buildup of these funds will allow the mothers to obtain micro-credit loans from the group in the future.

Iím looking forward now to our board formation day and regular October board meeting. Following the board meeting, I will meet my wife, Cristina, in Guatemala, and we will head for the mission awareness trip in Chile. Before signing off, I want to say that I am deeply grateful to have shared parts of this India trip with Ilene and Sara from CFCAís International Department in Kansas City.

God’s blessings,

Bob Hentzen

Sep 22 2009

Seeing is believingÖand I am a believer

By Kelly Demo, CFCA preacher

I have preached on behalf of CFCA for more than a year and a half now. I knew how CFCA worked and how it changed lives and transformed entire communities. I got it.

Or, at least, I thought I did until I went on a mission awareness trip to El Salvador. Only then did I truly understand the goodness, the Godliness of what is happening in our projects. I offer two examples.

On the first full day in El Salvador, our little band of travelers was taken to a small area in Santa Ana. CFCA has had a strong presence there for many years now. We were warmly welcomed by the sponsored children and their families and introduced to leaders who have risen up from the community to take on planning and visioning responsibilities. The atmosphere was one of excitement and pride. The mothers group was eager to show the skirts, purses and towels they were learning to sew. We were told about the community sewing co-op that is starting up, and children came forward to present each of us with a bag that had been sewn by the mothers.

I looked at the parents and children and saw a community of hope that was looking to the future and knowing that, while things may not be easy, there were others who were walking the journey with them.

Cut to scene two. CFCA has just entered into a relationship with the people of Chilcuyo, a town about an hour outside Santa Ana. We were the first group of sponsors to visit, and there were no sponsored children (yet!). We were again greeted by the beautiful children of the town, but there was anxiety underlying the excitement. They did not know what to expect. They had never received a group from CFCA, but more than that, there was a palpable anxiety to life in this town. There was fear. Fear of crime, of hunger, of isolation, and of the future.

When I compared these two towns, I saw clearly how CFCA is making an impact on entire communities, by impacting one person at a time. As each person develops, so develops the town, the area, the country and, in time, the world.

Aug 17 2009

Bob’s notes – visit to Guatemala

Guatemala mission awareness trip
Aug. 1-8, 2009

A solidarity walk, including an estimated 1,500 CFCA scholars and families, took place in San Marcos two days before the arrival of the mission awareness trip group, and was televised on three local stations. The next day, the CFCA rural livelihood project turned over 75 young bulls and cows to the San Marcos mothers groups.

Guatemala livelihood project

CFCA has two projects and 103 subprojects in Guatemala. A total of 94,500 children and aging are sponsored, plus 56 vocations candidates. Those awaiting sponsorship total 5,407.

Lots of inspiration
We are most grateful for the presence in San Lucas of the parish groups of Church of the Risen Christ, Denver, Colo., and Holy Trinity, Lenexa, Kan. A few notes shared by participants:

From Rich Swan: ìThank you, CFCA, for touching my familyís hearts. Kara and Chris are who they are partly because of our first trip back in 2003. Thank you for helping us help you to reach others at at Church of the Risen Christ and in Denver.î

Another sponsor: ìWe all experience Godís love in different ways. I love seeing Godís love and joy in the Guatemalan way of life.î

Another sponsor: ìThe experience I had with my sponsored child was amazing. It warmed my heart to see how much I mean to the family. They were so kind and respectful. I look forward to seeing them for years to come. The experience made me rethink what is important in life.î

From Ilene: ìThis week has been very special for me. I have been able to open myself up to be here in this place and see what is really important in this life. Thank you for a fabulous experience and thanks be to the Holy Spirit for bringing me here.î

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