Tag: mothers

May 9 2011

Mothers grow small businesses in the Dominican Republic

This video features a mothers group in our project in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

The narrator in the video, Altagracia Flores, is a charismatic social worker in the Santo Domingo project. She and other CFCA staff members work closely with mothers of sponsored children who want to start or improve their livelihood or business.

They can access small loans from the group fund, which consists of the mothersí individual contributions and a CFCA matching amount.

Altagracia shares with us the example of two mothers who have succeeded in improving their small businesses and their families’ living conditions.


May 6 2011

CFCA in Costa Rica learns from mothers group experience

Costa Rica mothers groups

John Arias Madriz, member of the CFCA-Costa Rica team, center, leads a prayer in the mothers group in a community served by the Santa Ana project during a training trip to El Salvador.

Mother’s Day is May 8. We believe in the wisdom of mothers and work to provide opportunities for mothers to use their wisdom for the good of their children and families.

In the past year, CFCA in Costa Rica has been exploring mothers groups as a vehicle to encourage the participation of mothers of sponsored children.

“Our mothers come from difficult realities,î said Rafael Villalobos, the Costa Rica coordinator. ìMost are single mothers and live in violent environments. Our primary goal is to create groups where the mothers identify with each other, learn to solve their problems and live with peace and solidarity.î

Earlier this year, staff members from the Costa Rica visited CFCA communities in El Salvador to learn from Salvadoran mothers groups.

“During our visit to El Salvador, we saw how women are empowered,” Villalobos said. “They have voice and vote in the decisions made in CFCA. This is important because mothers are no longer just recipients of benefits. They are building their childrenís future.”

Since they began in 2001 in Hyderabad, India, CFCA mothers groups have evolved and spread to other parts of the CFCA world. They were introduced two years ago in El Salvador.

“We see a bigger sense of belonging to CFCA among mothers of sponsored children who are part of our mothers groups,” said Yessenia Alfaro, CFCA coordinator in El Salvador.

“This model has enabled the mothers to be active participants in building a better future for their children, and to discover their hidden talents and put them to the service of their own community.”

The CFCA mothers group is a community self-help group that offers mothers of sponsored children an opportunity to organize themselves and participate in the planning and decision making of CFCA benefits and activities.

Mothers in Hyderabad now have choices about their childrenís benefits, and microfinance programs offered by the groups provide access to loans for small business startups, college tuition or emergency expenses.

The visit to El Salvador has allowed the Costa Rica team to see the potential of mothers groups as a tool for families to build a path to self-sufficiency.

“We returned home and shared the beauty and the value of mothers becoming the leaders of their sponsorship program, their communities and their childrenís pathway in life,” Villalobos said.

Mar 8 2011

A CFCA tribute for International Women’s Day

Today (March 8) is International Women’s Day. As we celebrate this day, we recognize women around the world who are leading their families and communities as they pursue a full and meaningful life.

Read these inspiring stories about women who have been helped through CFCA and are returning that help:

Maria CristinaBy all accounts, Maria Cristina should not have graduated from school or successfully completed her medical degree.

She should have been one of the 60-plus percent of Guatemalan youth who drop out of school by the sixth grade.

But Maria Cristina is unique. This is even more significant given that she is a woman and a member of the indigenous population in Guatemala.

FaridaWhen Farida fell into a deep depression after her husband abandoned the family, her son, Aftab, encouraged her to seek help from the CFCA mothers group.

With the support of other mothers in the program, Farida gradually recovered her self-esteem. She†learned to sew and tailor clothing through a class at the CFCA resource center.

Farida now gives back to her community. She adopted an orphaned street child, cared for him and enabled him to attend school. She runs a sewing business and is building a home for her family.

Guatemalan sewing mothers groupIn Guatemala, spirited mothers have formed a group to improve the lives of their families ó one garment at a time.

In 2009, eight of the women officially formed a new mothers group. They called themselves ìCreaciones la BendiciÛn,î or ìBlessed Creations.î

The women borrowed $1,800 for one year from CFCA to purchase fabric and an industrial sewing machine. They have sewed more than 11,000 T-shirts for Walk2gether, CFCA President Bob Hentzen’s 8,000-mile trek through Latin America.

Jan 24 2011

Sponsor describes ‘God story’ behind latest sponsorship

We recently offered readers an opportunity to receive a free 2011 desk calendar if they blogged about us or entered our daily comment drawing by posting a blog comment. That opportunity is now closed, but we received many wonderful responses. This blog submission from Cheri Duchrow particularly moved us.

I started sponsoring children in 2003. I thought it was a good thing to help someone else and it would be good for my daughter.

Cheri Duchrow

Cheri Duchrow

Little did I know how these children would move the Holy Spirit in me. For almost two years, I had good intentions of writing but somehow did not make room in my schedule to do so.

Slowly but surely the Lord kept calling me to grow in relationship with Him and His people.

I heard speakers reflect on Exodus 16 where the Lord provides manna for His people and we are to only gather what we need. God honors radical risk-taking acts of faith evident in many biblical stories.

He led me to speak about child sponsorship, advocate letter writing and honor the relationships He had given me through these individuals, my extended family members.

I have witnessed many God moments at a sponsorship table. My latest child sponsorship has its own God story.


Joshiammal, Cheri’s sponsored child


Florence, Cheri’s sponsored child in Mathare

I had read about others’ experiences in many countries where people make a living in city dumps and live in the slums. These break into the silence of my soul, and I cannot shut out the images.

One trip focused on Kenya and the Mathare slums. Even though I sponsored several individuals, I thought surely I could press myself and sponsor one more. When I called there weren’t any individuals available there.

Though I thought about Mathare on occasion, I let it slip into the background and the business of life took over.

Several months later I received one of CFCA’s informative magazines outlining several success stories. One talked about a program for the children in the Mathare area.

This was God shouting through the darkness, reminding me of the work He needed to do through me. I made a note to call CFCA to check into sponsoring there.

Another week went by. On a Sunday night I went to CFCA’s website, which had started to put pictures of the individuals needing to be sponsored.

I thought I would see whether any individuals from Kenya lived near Mathare. I thought maybe a girl or boy about 9 or 10 would be nice.

Then there was her photo. It wasn’t the photo that caught my eye but her name – Florence.

Read more

Nov 29 2010

Texas sponsors reflect on meeting Joy in Kenya

Harry and Joanne Ehmann are CFCA sponsors who live just outside Dallas, Texas. This year, they decided to participate in a CFCA mission awareness trip to visit their sponsored friend Joy, who lives in Kenya. Their long-distance friendship with Joy has made a positive impact on their lives. You can read more about their story of friendship here.

The following is an excerpt from our conversation with these wonderful members of the CFCA community.

1) What ultimately led you to sponsor through CFCA?

Joanne: We were moved by the CFCA presentation made at St. Michaelís a few years ago and felt this was one way we could share some of the blessings God had bestowed upon us. Initially we had selected a young girl from Madagascar, but after a year of sponsorship, CFCA notified us that her family had moved out of the area.

Joy and Harry Ehmann

Joy and Harry Ehmann

Joy and Joanne Ehmann

Joy and Joanne Ehmann

We had the option to choose another or let CFCA choose for us. We asked CFCA to provide another girl for us. This is how Joy came into our lives. This also reinforces for us the conviction that through CFCA God chose Joy for us.

2) How has your sponsorship impacted your life?

Harry: Sponsorship with CFCA has enriched our lives. We enjoy the personal letters back and forth that really bring home our connection to her and her family. CFCA gives us the opportunity to give back in a meaningful way as we remember Christís words in Matthew 25:40.

3) What was it like to meet Joy in person?

Joanne: Wow! We were both so thrilled. It was like a reunion even though this was the first time weíd actually met. We had anticipated this moment in the days and months leading up to it, and thanks to the CFCA staff, we felt fully prepared. This only heightened our excitement.

As the bus pulled up we were met with singing and dancing by the mothers group. The moment I got off the bus I recognized Joy. She was even more beautiful than her pictures! … We both felt so much love for both Joy and her family and were thrilled to be able to meet her and hug her entire family.

4) Do you have a favorite memory or moment from the trip?

Harry: I guess other than our initial meeting my favorite memory was when our trip leader, Stephen, explained that due to the recent rains and muddy road conditions, it was not possible for us to ride the bus to visit Joyís home on the slopes of Mt. Kenya.

He told us that Joyís mother said it was only a ì20 minute walkî and conceded that her reckoning might be a bit short of what we could actually expect. And yet we all piled out to walk with Joy and her sisters and mother along the muddy road under overcast skies to their home about 4 miles and one hour away.

… We felt a sense of fellowship with the members of our group who risked the red mud glomming to their shoes, the slippery paths and the threatening clouds to share with us what Joy and her family experienced themselves on a regular basis.

It struck me later that our little trek personified the CFCA slogan of not just carrying the poor, but walking with them instead.

5) What was it like to see her living conditions and the impact you are making?

Read more

Oct 21 2010

From beneficiaries to partners: How CFCA views sponsored friends

Dan Pearson, operations/program development director for CFCA, explains how CFCA programs are moving toward greater autonomy and partnership with those being sponsored. Rather than seeing them as “beneficiaries,” we see them as “partners.”

Nonprofit organizations often divide their stakeholders neatly into two categories: donors and beneficiaries. But CFCA has always viewed things a little differently.

Dan Pearson

Dan Pearson

CFCA has always seen sponsors as more than simply donors. Sponsors are first and foremost human beings with a desire to connect with other human beings.

Part of CFCA’s mission is to give sponsors a way to grow in love through a personal connection to a child or elderly person in another part of the world. In that sense, sponsors are also beneficiaries of sponsorship because we can receive emotional and spiritual benefits as we provide encouragement and material support to a friend in another country.

Similarly, CFCA has never seen sponsored children and their families as simply beneficiaries. The word “beneficiary” implies someone who passively receives assistance from another person. But sponsored members and their families are not passive. In fact, they are some of the most active people I have met.

Sponsored children often get up early and walk long distances just to receive an education. Their parents work long days (often in jobs that are physically demanding) to provide for their childrenís basic needs. Yes, these families benefit from the program. But they are much more than beneficiaries.

Sai and his family

Sponsored child Sai, second from right, and his family in Hyderabad, India.

Part of the message in CFCA’s Hope for a Family program is that the families of sponsored children are our partners.

The mother of a child partners with a sponsor to achieve a childís goals for the future. She is a trustworthy partner because:

a) she has demonstrated her absolute commitment to her child’s future,

b) she understands her child’s unique gifts and the particular challenges her child faces, and

c) she is extremely skilled at overcoming challenges.

The proof of a motherís trustworthiness as a partner in the development of her child is in her tireless dedication. She spends nearly every waking hour dedicated to the cause of her children. Then she goes to bed, wakes up early, and starts over again.

The label “beneficiary” doesnít do justice to that kind of active dedication to a cause.

When one sponsor and one family join forces to change one child’s life, all other labels dissolve. They are simply human beings working together to make one small piece of the world a better place.

We welcome your feedback! In the comments below, please tell us how you view the “beneficiaries” vs. “partners” distinction. If you’re a sponsor, have you always viewed sponsorship as a way to partner with others? Why or why not?

Jul 8 2010

Hope for my family

By Ruth Hubenthal, Sponsor Services Representative and CFCA sponsor

Rose petalsI had the opportunity to go on a mission awareness trip to Bogota, Colombia last week, and I met Juliana, the girl that I have sponsored for the past two and a half years, along with her family. I wonít say that the trip was life changing in an earth-shattering-kind-of way, but there was a more subtle change, soft, like the rose petals that surrounded us along the entire trip.

I spent a day with Juliana and her mother, Elizabeth, and we shared stories about our families and about challenges we had to overcome, about our likes and dislikes, about plans we have for the future. We felt that we were a part of the same family, and said as much to each other. What I told her is that I saw hope in her eyes and in her voice, and in turn, that gave me hope. Hope for a family. Hope for MY family.

Elizabeth is going to be a grandmother at 35. Her oldest daughter, Deisy, is going to have a baby in November. Deisyís only 15. But this family doesnít sit back and feel sorry for themselves: they are already talking about the baby, talking to the baby and planning on how to make his or her life better and brighter. Deisy and the babyís father are both planning on continuing school, Elizabeth intends to stay home with her grandchild, and give that opportunity of education to her children.

Ruth with Juliana and her motherItís a simple story, a reality that is not uncommon in these communities, but I think that Elizabethís sacrifice of her personal goals and dreams to give her family a better life, is, in a way, fulfilling her goal. As a mother, I understand that, and I understand that itís not always easy. Thatís what gives ME hope as I support this family. That the love of a mother can help make the world a better place, that sponsoring Juliana and giving the family an opportunity to overcome their poverty can encourage them to stay hopeful.

Mothers like Elizabeth plant seeds of hope in their children and cultivate that hope. And the end result is as beautiful as the roses that are planted and cultivated in that region of Colombia. Itís tangible, and itís just the most beautiful feeling.

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

Apr 8 2010

Mothers walk together

By Christine Sementelli, CFCA sponsor.
Christine accompanied the Walk2gether team in Costa Rica for a week.

Christine Sementelli (left) and Zaida met in Costa Rica during Walk2gether and bonded over motherhoodNo matter where one travels, mothers have the same concerns, cares, thoughts, worries and desires for their children. While on my recent Walk2gether adventure in Costa Rica, I met Zaida, an extraordinary and simple mother. She resides in Bagaces, a town northwest of San Jose, Costa Rica.

She is a supporter of CFCA, which was evident by her 3:30 a.m. arrival time to the small and quaint town center for a long, tiring walk. Many are dedicated to CFCA in this town! Everyone proudly wore their blue CFCA T-shirts and baseball caps. The streets were filled with excitement, including the echoing of music from large speakers attached to the back of a car. Little did I know that this first day of walking would end up including some of the most memorable moments of my week!

I was more than ready for the walk, mentally, physically and spiritually. After completing my first 10K and enjoying a traditional Costa Rican breakfast, we began the second 10K of the day. The sun was up as we continued along the rocky, gravel-covered path through the extremely rural and poor areas of Bagaces. Out of nowhere, an arm was put around me, and I was swept into a conversation with Zaida that would last for hours.

At first there was a lot of small talk. The words that one would share when meeting a fellow mother for the first time, be it in small town U.S.A. or Bagaces, Costa Rica. What else would two moms start a conversation with besides, ìHow many children do you have?î and, ìHow old are they?î

We continued discovering more about our children. Isnít this so typical of mothers? The common bond of our children allowed us to talk for an extended period of time. I was honored to meet her youngest child, and I could see that Zaida was proud to introduce her to me, just as I would have been proud to introduce my own daughters to my new friend. As time went on, we talked about other topics, but somehow the conversation always led back to our children.

Each day on our journey, Don Roberto (Bob Hentzen) would stop and compassionately and respectfully listen to the CFCA parents tell their personal stories and their perspectives on how CFCA is helping and can better help in each community. Each community is unique and Bob knows this. He knows that one of his biggest allies is the CFCA mothers.

Zaida respectfully and confidently sat down next to Don Roberto and shared her story, her desires, her concerns and her ideas regarding her own children and the children of Bagaces supported through CFCA. Zaida is like so many mothers. We do whatever we can to make a better life for the ones we love the most.

Our day continued, and we were extremely comfortable with each other. Our energy was never-ending, even though the songs blasting from the oversized speakers were the same ones we began listening to at 3:30 in the morning. We put our arms around each other and shouted the now so familiar words, ìMi corazon, tu Corazon.” — my heart, your heart — became our battle cry. Arm in arm, we knew we had forged a friendship, a friendship based on the love for one thing all mothers around the world have in common: the love for their children.

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