Tag: mothers

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

Aug 31 2009

Bob’s notes – visit to Nicaragua

Mission awareness trip to Nicaragua
Aug. 15-22, 2009

Ever since I visited the Christian Brothers in Bluefields in 1961, I have regarded Nicaragua as a country of poets, musicians, artists, gentle people and good baseball players. I am delighted that we are able to work with and walk with close to 10,000 Nicaraguan families. We also work with a large number of Nicaraguan refugees in Costa Rica. I am privileged to be on this trip, and I look forward to our walk through Nicaragua in 2010.

Listening to Nicaraguan staff
Even though about half our group got to the Palmera Retreat House quite late last night, we were all up bright and early this Sunday morning for prayer and orientation. We reflected on
1 Corinthinthians: ìLove is kind and patient, never jealous, boastful, proud or rude. Love isnít selfish or quick tempered. It doesnít keep a record of wrongs that others do. Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil. Love is always supportive, loyal, hopeful and trusting.î

A good breakfast featuring gallo pinto (rice and beans) sent us on our way north 2.5 hours to the subproject in San Lorenzo.

San Lorenzo
The families of the 316 sponsored children and 15 aging appreciate the program very much.



Arielís testimonial is an example of this gratitude: ìI am the son of humble parents. I have been sponsored since 2007. I am in my first year of secondary education. In order to reach school, I have to walk one half hour and ride a bus another half hour. My dream is to become a professional in order to serve my community, without neglecting the parents who have given me life.î

We have been movingÖ
Monday found us visiting the subprojects in Chinandega and Tuesday in Leon. On Wednesday, we visited the areas of Masaya and Granada, and on Thursday Ö on to the the city dump area of Acahualinca. CFCA began serving in the Acahualinca neighborhood nine years ago.

This sponsored family of 12 children in Acahualinca neighborhoodó9 children and parents in the photo. Working hard, they struggle to make it on about $3 per day total income.

This is a sponsored family of 12 children in Acahualinca neighborhoodó9 children and parents in the photo. Working hard, they struggle to make it on about $3 per day total income.

There are so many stories of inspiration in this neighborhood. On the part mothers and grandmothers, I would call it heroism. We have three children sponsored in a family of 12 (ages 8 months to 17 years). The father, Juan, 45, works as a helper in a restaurant at the Oriental Market, earning the equivalent of US$100 per month. The mother, Leticia, also worked at a restaurant until the birth of their newest baby. They face the harsh reality of sometimes not being able to make ends meet, but harboring in their hearts great love and a drive for self-improvement that encourages them to keep trying. They are a united and loving family, who show qualities of responsibility and honesty. We are honored to have the family as part of our CFCA family in Nicaragua.

Shortening distances
We spent this beautiful day in Project Masaya, celebrating Mass with sponsored families and staff. A cultural program followed, featuring poems and folk dances. One poem written by famed Cuban poet Jose Marti and recited by 9-year-old Laura stole the show:

“Cultivo una rosa Blanca
En junio como enero
Para el amigo sincero
Que me das su mano franca.
Y para el cruel que arranca
El Corazon con que vivo,
Cardo ni ortiga cultivo;
Cultivo la rosa blanca.”

“I cultivate a white rose
In June and January as well
For the sincere friend
Who offers me his honest hand.

And for the cruel person who rips out
The heart with which I live,
I cultivate neither thistle nor nettle;
I cultivate a white rose.”

Visits to families resulted in the shortening of distances between sponsors and children and the sponsorship of one new little girl, 7-year-old Neyling. We met 10 of our scholars at the attractive CFCA center in Masaya.

We say “hasta luego” to Nicaragua with many prayers in our hearts. May the Lord bless the people of Nicaragua and our sponsored families. May the Lord bless these dear sponsors on their journey forward and in their advocacy efforts, and may the Lord bless each of you, our beloved CFCA family.


Bob Hentzen

Jul 15 2009

Do all projects have livelihood programs?

Ask Sponsor ServicesQ. Do all projects have livelihood programs? How do the programs work?

A. CFCA’s livelihood initiatives have steadily grown to the point that approximately half of projects now have livelihood programs. The programs are made available to families with a desire and ability to participate.

CFCA’s primary emphasis is sponsorship in which one sponsor partners with one child or aging person and gives that person encouragement, love and financial support in the form of monthly sponsorship benefits.

Because the family is the primary caregiver, livelihood programs are designed to help families generate sustainable income for themselves. They may enhance their ability to gain employment, create a new source of income through starting a business or supplement existing income.

Programs may include skills training, business development training, access to loans, savings to create a loan fund, income-generating activities and individual empowerment to help members develop livelihoods based on skills.

Capital to launch businesses may be provided through CFCA projects, through savings and loan cooperatives created by sponsored members or through sponsor donations.

Donate to CFCA’s livelihood program fund.

Jul 13 2009

‘He is permanently part of my heart now’

A mission awareness trip to Colombia profoundly impacted sponsor Karen Greiber. The following is from a letter she wrote describing her experience.

Hi Everyone,

The trip was amazing — I can’t begin to find the right words. It made a huge difference to me and really changed my perspective on things.

Mom and I flew to Medellin, Colombia. Everywhere was so green and gorgeous! When we arrived, I was told that Karen (my sponsored child from Cali) was already at the project. She and her family had traveled seven and a half hours just to meet me. They said Karen was so excited to meet me that she didn’t sleep at all the night before.

Karen and her sponsored friend, Karen during a Colombia mission awareness tripI had just started sponsoring Karen in December 2008. I had only received one letter and barely knew her.

When we arrived at the project, a huge crowd was waiting for us. The next thing I knew, I was being pushed toward Karen. I gave her a big hug. We walked through the crowd together with everyone cheering. Karen and I tried to communicate through my minimal Spanish. Thank goodness there were many in our group who spoke Spanish and helped translate.

Karen is 12 and filled with smiles. I grew to love her and her mom. I learned that Karen’s family lives in one room that they rent. Her mom works as a housekeeper when she can find work, usually two days a week at most. Karen has three younger siblings. I was told that her family was so grateful that Karen found a sponsor. Most people want to sponsor younger kids.

Later, I learned that only 40 percent of kids go to school in Colombia and only around 30 percent attend higher education. Karenís sponsorship means that she can stay in school. She can even consider going on to a university.

The Cali project is beginning sewing classes for mothers. They were just training instructors. A year from now, they plan to teach sewing in Karenís subproject. Then, Karenís mom can take sewing classes to learn a new trade so she can earn more for the family.

At the second subproject we visited, we entered an auditorium-like place to thunderous applause. I often fought tears while I was in Medellin. The gratitude was so overwhelming.

After the performance, everyone from the crowdóat least 100 peopleócame up to say ìthank you” and give hugs and kisses. Bob Hentzen, CFCA president and co-founder, said the crowd saw us as a representation of all sponsors, and it was their way of saying thank you to their own sponsors. So many people talked about their sponsors. They showed us their letters and told us how much they meant to them.

Rafael with his water-bottle tower.We flew to Cartagena from Medellin. There I met my other sponsored child, Rafael. Rafael meant a lot to me before the trip, but he is permanently a part of my heart now. I love him more than I can put into words!

Rafael has the most beautiful smile. He is all boy, but very respectful, polite and all-around a good boy. His mom is an excellent mother. In Cartagena we were allowed to spend three days with our sponsored children as we went to the different subprojects.

When we went to Rafael’s village, he really came to life. It was so awesome to see him just being a kid! I met his entire family. How I treasure the time we spent there! Susana, Rafael’s mom, welcomed me into their home and family.

People may say we saw some of the worst parts of Colombia, because we saw some of the poorest areas. I disagree: I think we saw some of the best. We spent time with everyday people who were generous, loving and genuine.

I left Colombia absolutely loving the people and the country. I hope someday to return.

God bless,

Visit your friend! Check out our mission awareness trip schedule here.