Tag: mothers groups

Apr 8 2009

A present-day transformation

Lenten reflection: Week 7
By Rev. Kelly Demo, CFCA preacher

ìLord, remember not only the men and women of good will but all those of ill will. Do not only remember all the suffering they have subjected us to. Remember the fruits we brought forth thanks to this suffering ñ our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, our courage, and generosity, the greatness of heart that all of this inspired. And when they come to judgment, let all these fruits we have born be their reward and their forgiveness.î
-Words scratched on the wall of a concentration camp in Germany

Transformative power: that is what bursts forth out of the tomb on Easter morning. The power of God to change that which was ugly to something beautiful. Changing darkness into light and destroying death to give us the chance for a real life. That is what we celebrate on Easter morning. Somewhere amidst the candy and Easter eggs we find the message that no matter how hard we try to get rid of God, we cannot and that God will transform our lives and our world if we only let God in.

If a woman in India is a widow or comes into a marriage with little dowry, she is seen as a burden and written off as worthless. This is a rather practical consideration for a family living on the edge because she is seen as not contributing to the family and is, instead, just another mouth to feed.

For the thousands of women who participate in CFCA mothers groups, however, they are given the chance to begin small businesses and bring income to the family. They are literally transformed in the eyes of their family members, as well as in their own eyes. They are given a new-found dignity and respect.

There are elderly in our projects who, after a life of hardship and struggle, were slipping away all alone, bereft of help or companionship. But, they are now part of a life-giving CFCA community where they can watch out for each other and care for each other.

And then there are the children. Hundreds of thousands of children that our sponsors have watched over the years transform into confident young adults. Our sponsors have seen the change from the first pictures of the small children, dressed in borrowed clothes, looking much too small for their age. Sponsors have watched them grow, overcome obstacles in their path and reach maturity with the ability and confidence to use their God-given gifts and talents.

Through womenís empowerment in the mothers groups, a childís maturity into adulthood and the companionship of the elderly, we are given the opportunity to watch, in present day, the transformative power of God that burst forth from the tomb on the first Easter morning. It is an amazing thing to watch God in action.

Happy Easter

From all of us at CFCA around the world, we wish you a most blessed and glorious Easter!

Mar 25 2009

Relationships are essential for a full life

Lenten reflection: Week 5
By Rev. Kelly Demo, CFCA preacher

ìAnd I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.î ñJohn 12:32

Our God, who is relational by nature, chose to become a member of the human family as an expression of intimate love. We, Godís children, are also relational and the yearning of our hearts for closeness to God and to one another is a reflection of our nature and Godís deepest desire.

Because of this, relationships are the very essence of life. Godís two greatest commandments are not about what work we do, or what we eat, or even how we are to worship God. Our two greatest commandments are to love God and each other.

We believe this is the greatest gift that CFCA has to offer to the world. The reason the founders chose the sponsorship model was because it is relational. One does not simply write a check and forget about it. Sponsors are called into personal relationships with someone they didnít even know existed before sponsorship. They are given the opportunity to love God by loving another of Godís children. Sponsor and sponsored friend carry one another in their hearts and allow the other to change them for the better.

CFCAís structure in our projects follows this model as well and feeds the need for relationships among those we serve. For example, mothers in Merida, Mexico, tell us that the CFCA mothers groups are the most important part of the program to them. Most of their families moved from villages to the city, and that move isolated them from the social fabric that had sustained their ancestors for generations. The mothers groups are recreating that sense of community that is so essential to a full life.

Lent gives us a chance to stop and examine our relationships. It is often easier to give up chocolate for Lent than to rebuild and heal relationships.

Author Stephen Levine writes, ìIf you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?î

Reflection questions:
1. How would you define your relationship with God? Is God your teacher? Friend? Distant relative you only see on holidays? Guide? Do you like that relationship or do you want it to change? What needs to happen to bring about that change?
2. Is there a friendship that you have lost and mourn that loss? What might God be calling you to do about that?

Mar 12 2009

Creating role models close to home

Mothers groups offer the mothers of sponsored children a support system, both financially and emotionally. Dan Pearson of international programs says mothers groups allow the women to demonstrate their strength, which society, as a whole, does not always recognize. But perhaps one of the most important benefits of mothers groups is that the mothers themselves become strong, female role models for their daughters. Part four of four videos

Mothers share their talents to improve their community (Part 3)
Support in a time of need (Part 2)
Watch an introduction to mothers groups (Part one)
What do we mean by “empowerment?”

Mar 11 2009

Mothers share their talents to improve their community

By coming together in the mothers groups, mothers in India can share their natural gifts and talents to help their community, says Dan Pearson of CFCA’s international programs. Josephine and the mothers group in her community work to improve their community by lobbying the city to pave the road from their village to the main road. Josephine also notices the number of homeless children in the community and starts an orphanage to care for them. Part three of four videos

Creating role models close to home (Part four)
Support in a time of need (Part 2)
Watch an introduction to mothers groups (Part one)
What do we mean by “empowerment?”

Mar 10 2009

Support in a time of need

Dan Pearson of CFCA’s international programs introduces us to Preethi (a fictional name to protect her privacy), mother of a sponsored child and a member of one of India’s mothers groups. The women in her mothers group offered Preethi and her family a loan, protection and support during a time of great need. Now Preethi and her family have stable jobs, steady income and her child is attending school. Part two of four videos

Creating role models close to home (Part 4)
Mothers share their talents to improve their community (Part 3)
Watch an introduction to mothers groups (Part one)
What do we mean by “empowerment?”

Mar 9 2009

An opportunity for mothers

Dan Pearson, a member of CFCA International Programs, returned from a six-month assignment in India to learn more about CFCA programs, particularly mothers groups. He saw that the mothers will find their own direction when they have the opportunity to take action. Part one of four videos

Creating role models close to home (Part 4)
Mothers share their talents to improve their community (Part 3)
Support in a time of need (Part 2)
What do we mean by “empowerment?”

Jan 26 2009

Bob’s notes – Visit to India, part 2

Mission awareness trip
Jan. 6-18, 2009

After spending a most enjoyable week with the sponsors in South India, Cristina, Alvaro Aguilar (Guatemala) and I flew to Hyderabad. We were privileged to visit subprojects, families and mothers groups, together with staff members from CFCA-Kansas and CFCA-Bhagalpur.

Words from a sponsored mother
ìNormally every program ends with the vote of thanks Ö but today this word thanks comes right from the bottom of every motherís heart. Itís not only financial and material knowledge that is given Ö but we are taught how to earn our living, how to educate our children, how to build a good and happy family and how to be a good mother.îóAgnes, Rosevilla Mothers Group

Small mothers group (SMG) leaders conference
This has been a day of inspiration and celebration with about 900 mothers group leaders present and a very high level of energy, identity and ìbuy-inî with the CFCA program.

Inspiring to me were the 20 little girls from subproject BLP, former street children. Sister Margaret shared their stories: This one was abandoned in the railway station. This one was found in the city market. These precious children (ages 2 to10) had prepared a few songs and a birthday cake for Mr. Prakash and they literally became part of my song Esmeralda Ö really because they have lived and are living similar realities today.

Community based
The mothers can be seen walking from their home to the meeting place. The transparency of the program, together with the joy and confidence of the mothers, speak clearly that this program is healthy and sustainable. I believe it can be said that they are truly community-based when our own CFCA colleagues living and serving in their own community give the example of walking with poor without religious, caste or any other prejudice.
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Jan 23 2009

Bob’s notes – Visit to India, part 1

Mission awareness trip
Jan. 6-18, 2009

Sponsors learn the reality of south India; mothers groups become CFCA model
The creativity and dedication of the CFCA community in India has become an ìexpansion-of-vision centerî for staff members from Bolivia, U.S.A, Honduras, Kenya and now Guatemala. Two of our colleagues from Guatemala (Jorge Armas, coordinator, and Alvaro Aguilar, regional director) were invited to participate in the experience of this mission awareness tripófollowed by a more in-depth study of the Hyderabad model of mothers groups. Jorge took ill the night before departure and was not able to travel.

Group orientation
We are happy to be here in Chennai (Madras). All the diocesan priests from the Archdiocese of Chennai together with their archbishop are on retreat at the same convent conference center where we are staying. Father Cyrus Gallagher, a CFCA preacher, was able to concelebrate Holy Mass with them this morning.

12-hour train ride
We made it to the train station in plenty of time for our 12-hour overnight trip to Palay and a good rock-me-to-sleep night on the train in triple-decker sleeping bunks. Athletic types generously scampered upward.

Visit to a familyís home
About 50 kilometers out of Palay, we visited subproject SPT. About 30 mothers and five elderly received us at the humble home of Petchi. For sponsors Gene and Jean, this was a very historical moment, after 11 years of sponsorship of Petchi. Gene said that this day has been one of the ìgreatest in his life.î

The mothers became teachers and the sponsors learners, as we enjoyed a beautiful and meaningful dialog for a couple of hours. One of the special gifts Jean had prepared for Petchi was an anthology of their relationship over these past 11 years. Iím sure it will be treasured.

The profound joy of belonging to CFCA was expressed by children and their mothers, who were clad in sharp-looking blue saris. Following dancing, dialogue and emotional sharing, sponsors were very quiet in the van as we made our way back to Palay in the night under a beautiful Pongal/Harvest Moon.

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Jan 12 2009

Kenyaís gradual return to peace

By Janet Tinsley, CFCA international project director for Africa

After the disputed presidential elections of December 2007 that were marred by allegations of corruption, the president-elect, Mwai Kibaki, and opposition candidate, Raila Odinga, formed the Grand Coalition Government in an attempt to quell the violence that erupted in January 2008. However, since its inception, the coalition has been tenuous at best, with many worrying that any disagreement between the parties could send Kenya into another violent tailspin.

During the year following the post-election violence, which resulted in more than 1,000 deaths and more than 350,000 internally displaced persons, people wishing to heal and move on have largely been forced to take reconciliation efforts into their own hands. In a demonstration of their perseverance, communities around the country have formed ad-hoc, cross-tribal support groups with the common goal of gradually bringing peace back to their community. Coming to terms with what happened last year is taking time, but gradually, people have returned to their communities and begun the arduous task of putting their lives and communities back together.

The government, however, has been relatively silent with regard to reconciliation and national healing following last yearís violence. It wasnít until November that legislation was passed to form a commission on election violence, and commissioners have yet to be appointed. As a result, very few of those who instigated the violence have been tried or prosecuted, and many Kenyans fear that the main perpetrators will go unpunished.

Post-election violence contributed to a significant slowdown in agricultural production and tourism during the first half of 2008, which had a major impact on Kenyaís already struggling economy. Kenya was also impacted by skyrocketing fuel and food costs as well as the global economic slowdown. Exceedingly high food prices, food shortages, and several thousands of internally displaced persons in the aftermath of the elections made 2008 a very difficult year for Kenyans.

Nevertheless, Kenyans are resilient and optimistic. The economy is already showing signs of starting to bounce back, and peace is returning for most of the population. While most were ready to put 2008 behind them, it seems that people are hopeful that 2009 will be a better year.

Read about how CFCA mothers groups are helping heal divisions in Kenya.