“Bob’s notes” are reports from CFCA President Bob Hentzen, who regularly accompanies mission awareness trip participants. You can see Bob’s full update on his Facebook page.
It’s a joy to share with you the beautiful people of Nicaragua.
With a population of more than 5 million, statisticians rate Nicaragua as the largest in geographical size and economically poorest of Central America.
It is popularly known as the land of volcanoes, poets, artists and good baseball, but let’s add beautiful harmonies and colorful dances to that list.
CFCA serves 9,626 children and their families in Nicaragua, along with 856 aging friends. Currently, 1,280 families are on our waiting list for sponsorship. Read more
Liz Quirin, editor of The Messenger, newspaper of the Diocese of Belleville, Ill., is a recipient of an Egan Award for Journalist Excellence from Catholic Relief Services.
The award was announced today at the Catholic Media Conference in Indianapolis.
Liz received the prestigious award for Catholic journalists for a 2011 article she wrote about a group of mothers of sponsored children in the CFCA Hope for a Family program in Nicaragua.
The article was entitled “Stitching Together a Future for Families in Nicaragua” and featured a group of mothers involved in a sewing initiative.
Liz was one of three winners. She won in the category for publications with regional circulation of less than 35,000.
Winners will receive a trophy and a trip overseas to witness firsthand the work of CRS. The entries were judged by a prestigious panel of judges from the secular media.
More info about the award: www.crs.org/newsroom/egan-award/
Unbound serves more than 10,000 sponsored children and elderly in Nicaragua. Our staff members there sent us this tasty recipe for “indio viejo,” or a corn-based, slow-cooked stew!
The Nicaraguan people are experts at making a variety of food dishes based on corn. This is a culture inherited from their ancestors.
In rural communities, corn-based meals are consumed daily. One of them is indio viejo, which is usually served as the main dish with rice, fried plantain and coleslaw salad. Sometimes, however, it is served as a secondary dish.
This recipe is for five people. See the full recipe
For many families we serve around the world, mothers are the light of the household and work hard to provide their families with the basic necessities they need to survive.
We’d like to highlight the importance of mothers by sharing this inspiring tale of a Nicaragua mothers group that is giving back to the community.
Through their united efforts, these mothers of sponsored children sold tamales door-to-door and purchased a food basket for a boy with special needs and his family.
And that’s just the beginning of their incredible story: Nicaraguan mothers group works to help others
Last week Harvey Correia wrote a beautiful blog post about his family’s first mission awareness trip to Nicaragua, where they met their sponsored child, Claudia, and also sponsored two more children: Juan Francisco and Neyling. Here he recounts the story of how Claudia and her “family” from the U.S. got to celebrate her quinceaÒera,the celebration of a girl’s 15th birthday and transition into adulthood.
We enjoyed visiting Claudia so much in 2009 that we returned on a mission awareness trip the following August so we could visit all three of our sponsored children.
We visited Claudiaís home on this trip and met her mother, a sister and a brother. Unfortunately, we learned that her father was quite ill and had been unable to work for nearly a year because of his ailments.
This obviously brought sad feelings, but we also had some new joys by seeing our children bond together while we traveled with CFCA for the next few days.
We treasure a photo of Claudia walking with her arm around Neylingís mother.
During this trip we met a fellow sponsor, and through him we met more sponsors through Facebook contacts.
One of these contacts had photos of a quinceaÒera celebration for their sponsored girl from Nicaragua, and we decided to pursue helping our girl Claudia celebrate her quinceaÒera.
We just returned from our most recent visit to Nicaragua and had a wonderful time. We visited all of our children and had a wonderful time at the quinceaÒera Mass. Read more
By Harvey Correia, CFCA sponsor
My wife, Linda, and I began our family relatively late so when there was a CFCA presentation in our parish while Linda was pregnant with our only child, Michael, we liked the idea of expanding our family through sponsoring a young child.
We sponsored Claudia, a 17-month-old from Nicaragua, in August 1998 when our son was 6 months old.
Although we were not especially active sponsors in writing to our sponsored friend, we treasured the letters received, first written by an older sister and, as Claudia grew older, from Claudia.
We did pray for Claudia and her family in our daily prayers, and this helped strengthen our bond with Claudia as well as help teach Michael our beliefs in social justice.
The annual photos have been a great treasure and formed a great album showing Claudia’s progress.
By Kristi Sands, CFCA sponsor
I’ve sponsored Maria for 12 years and Isabel for two months through CFCA. They have the same name ó Maria Isabel ó but the younger one goes by her middle name.
Both live in Nicaragua ó a country that 12 years ago I had little interest in and had difficulty pronouncing.
While sponsors aren’t required to write, I knew letter writing would be essential to building a relationship with Maria, my first sponsored child.
Sometimes I was tempted to give up. Communication through letters that CFCA staff members then translate isnít always easy. I felt there were huge gaps in our ability to get to know one another.
Letters took a long time (generally six to eight weeks) to arrive. When I learned that one person does translations for an entire regional project, and that he/she generally translates 30 letters a day, that helped put things in perspective.
So despite the frustrations of not being able to read or write in Mariaís language, I felt inspired to stick it out.
God had given me this precious relationship and responsibility, and I intended to see it through to the end. Gratefully, communication eventually improved.
I didnít know that Maria planned to go to college until she announced she would be studying accounting at a university. She also wants to get her master’s degree and become a CPA.
I tucked that away as something to ask another sponsored child much earlier. I didnít know that college was an option for her, so I never asked what she wanted to do when she grew up. Read more
When Kenia was 14, her mother moved to Costa Rica with Keniaís oldest brother to find work and left Kenia and two brothers behind. For the past two years, Kenia has been raised by her brother, Juan Carlos. Kenia and Juan Carlos are sponsored through CFCAís Hope for a Family program. Kenia talks about how the separation has affected her and her family.
How did you feel when your mother and older brother left Nicaragua for Costa Rica?
It was very sad and very difficult. But because of the country’s economic situation, they were forced to leave.
How do you feel now?
I have had to get used to it since, even though she is far away from us, she calls us always and is always waiting for us to call. It is very difficult, but life is like that. One never thinks that these things could happen.
From left are Raul, Juan Carlos and Kenia.
Do you miss your mother?
Yes, because she has been a very good mother, a fighter, who in spite of all that has happened, has always fought for her children’s well-being.
I always imagine that the New Year or some other vacation period is coming so that she can return and we can be together again.
Do you have family to care for you, or only Juan Carlos?
Yes, thank God that besides my brothers, Raul and Carlos, some people will give me support and strength to carry on. They are not relatives but it is as though they were. They are always watching out for me, and I am very grateful. They are the couple who are pastors of the church that I attend.
How do you help your brother at home?
We will help each other, whether with household chores, which we divide among ourselves, or with our studies with which my brother Carlos helps me as I help my younger brother Raul. So we have learned that despite things that happen, love and the unifying element of family always prevail.
Where do you go to school?
I study at an institute about four blocks from my house. I am in the fourth year of secondary school, which is a little difficult for me, but with some effort I will make headway because our lives are like a race in which you have to struggle to win the prize.
What do you want to be in your life?
God willing, next year I will graduate from secondary school. At first I wanted to study to be a teacher, but also to be a nurse, and I have decided to study nursing.
What are your dreams and hopes?
To see myself fulfilled, to obtain a professional career, work and help my mother and little brother, since my mother has been that source of strength in those moments when I feel that I cannot continue. I remember what she does for me and I continue on.
Other wishes are to have the opportunity of knowing different countries, to mix well with people and to have new friends.
Read the story about Kenia’s brother, Juan Carlos.
Jesly meets Laura, her sponsor, in Nicaragua.
One of our sponsors, Laura, discusses a recent trip with her daughter to Nicaragua, her home country, to visit their sponsored friend.
My name is Laura and I was born in the beautiful country of Nicaragua. I have the great pleasure of sponsoring a child from my home country; her name is Jesly and she is 6 years old. Recently, I traveled to Nicaragua to see my family and took the opportunity to schedule a visit to meet Jesly. The main goals for my visit were not just to meet Jesly but also to introduce my 5-year-old daughter Julia to the gratifying experience of helping others in need.
Jesly lives in a town called Esteli, which is about a three-hour drive from the capital of Managua where my family lives. When we arrived at the Managua project, my daughter, my brother and I decided to drive ourselves accompanied by a CFCA guide. We drove for a long while, passing through green valleys and mountains, and a couple of rain showers! I think I saw more of my country that day than I had in years!
When we reached Esteli we were met by the local CFCA coordinator. By this time the rain was pouring and when we pulled up to Jeslyís home, currents of mud were everywhere. I found Jesly, her mom Belky, and her little brother Jonathan waiting for us. I found Jesly to be a sweet, shy and beautiful little girl. I was so glad that I had brought my daughter to meet her. The humble home and surroundings made me reflect on the plight of so many people in Nicaragua and around the world. I was told of how CFCA provides assistance to families in need and Jeslyís family in particular.
Jesly meets Julia, Laura’s daughter.
I was able to give Jesly a few toys and some clothing that I had brought for her. In no time, she and my daughter were playing with the dolls we had just ripped out of their packages! It warmed my heart to see how two little girls from different backgrounds could be brought together with the simple and universal act of playing with dolls.
When I was back at my parentsí home, I reflected on the dayís events. I was so thankful for the opportunity to meet Jesly and especially for being able to share the experience with my daughter. I spoke to Julia about the importance of helping those in need; that there are many people who need assistance and that a lot of them are kids just like her. I pray that this experience will stay with her as she grows up and that she recognizes how blessed we are in our family with everything that the Lord has provided for us.
I would like to thank CFCA for making this journey possible.