Tag: Nicaragua

Jul 1 2010

A carnation for poverty

ClareEarlier this year, Clare Nowalk, 13, was assigned a service project by her teacher. She decided to sell carnations after Mass and host a tie-dye workshop, with proceeds from both activities benefiting CFCA. Her decision was a natural fit said her mother, Jenny. In addition to her family’s sponsorship of a child in Nicaragua, Jenny had started talking about Walk2gether with the family.

“I got really excited about Walk2gether,” Jenny said. “I would follow Walk2gether and read what others had to say. I found the comments so inspiring.”

Clare sold approximately 100 carnations, and spent several hours teaching elementary school students how to tie-dye shirts. Below, you can read what Clare has to say about her activities.

Thank you for your hard work, Clare!

It all started when my teacher assigned our reading class to each do a service project. My family supports a little girl named Jarling through CFCA. I decided that I could help boys and girls like her. My mom and I decided I could sell flowers after church on Valentine’s Day. We earned at least $100, but that was just the beginning. Next, I worked with two seniors from Culver Academies to do a tie-dye workshop at my school. It was a huge success, and a whole lot of fun.

My overall total was at least $700. I enjoyed it a lot. I hope to continue helping others and I want to do the workshop again.

Feb 27 2010

Walk2gether team aware of tsunami warnings

We received the following report this morning from Karen Allemang, the lead Walk2gether coordinator, about how Bob and the Walk2gether team are impacted by the tsunami warnings resulting from the 8.8 Chilean earthquake.

I called down to Nicaragua and spoke with Adolfo, who is with the walkers. He’s driving one of the vehicles and is the technical expert. The tsunami warning covers an extensive area including Central America. Aldolfo said that they had heard the news earlier this morning when they started walking. They are only 15 or 20 kilometers from the coast so they are keeping an ear to the news stations. They aren’t overly concerned for their safety, but are aware of the warning. I let him know that the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center shows that a tsunami has been generated but doesn’t specify where in the Pacific. He sends greetings to all.

Feb 10 2010

A call from the Philippines

VeronWhenever Veron Telar, Manila project coordinator in the Philippines, can access the Internet, she tries to send email updates about Walk2gether to Trisha Pitts, the regional director for the Philippines. Veron is walking through Central America with Bob and the Walk team.

Feb. 6, 2010

Dear Ma’am Trisha,

Thank you for the very inspiring message and for sharing my journey with the CFCA. Thank you also for the appreciation, prayers and support of everyone in Kansas and in the projects.

We are now here in Nicaragua and have finished our first 40 kilometers here yesterday. So far, we have walked 1,051 kilometers after crossing the mountainous 575 kilometers of Honduras. It was a great time walking with the Honduran CFCA sponsored families and staff in the projects. I am privileged to meet my co-coordinators and the rest of each project team.

I deeply appreciate your support to the Manila project team as you are constantly communicating with my team.

We received a call from the Philippines last week during the mission awareness trip to Antipolo. It was really a great joy for me to talk with Ma’am Malou (Antipolo project coordinator) and share with them some of my journey and experiences on the Walk. Sir Bob also gave his message to the Philippines team. I believe they are having a wonderful mission awareness trip.

My prayer is that this year’s trip brings hope, joy and life-giving experiences to the sponsors, CFCA families and to all my co-workers in the Philippines. I am very proud to represent them in Walk2gether, and also all of our co-workers in Kansas and in projects around the world. It is very inspiring to walk, as every co-worker of each project that we have visited has requested me to continue walking for them. I am very thankful and will always be appreciative for this great opportunity provided by my CFCA family.

This is all for now. I will be in touch again in the next few days. I hope my emails do not take most of your time. I just want to tell my experiences in this beautiful journey. I would like to add that the Walk, to me, is a healing process of the many challenges in my personal and work experiences, and I am very hopeful that this will surely be a great success for me and for every CFCA community, co-worker and sponsors, as well.

Thank you very much. My best regards to everyone.



Dec 29 2009

Let’s all go for a Walk2gether

CFCA staff in Kansas City walk around the warehouse.CFCA staff members in Kansas City took a symbolic walk of solidarity on Dec. 29, the same day that the 8,000-mile Walk2gether started in Guatemala.

Approximately 60 employees met in the community room at 9 a.m. to hear a report about the launch of Walk2gether, pray for the safety of the walkers and then make a short walk of solidarity.

Because a pre-Christmas blizzard left high snow drifts and dangerous ice on sidewalks, the walk was held inside instead of outdoors as originally planned. The Kansas City walkers followed a mile-long route marked by yellow boot prints inside the warehouse that is part of the CFCA headquarters.

The walk in Kansas City occurred at about the time the Guatemala walkers, led by CFCA President Bob Hentzen, were scheduled to make their first stop for breakfast. They began at about 4 a.m. and were due to walk 24 miles on the first day of the journey.

Other CFCA projects and employees held their own symbolic events for the Walk2gether kick-off.

At the Monrovia project in Liberia, staff and sponsored members spent the day volunteering at community hospitals.

In Ecuador, the Guayaquil project hosted solidarity walks 10 kilometers in length in areas where they have sponsored members.

The Bluefields subprojects in the northeast corner of Nicaragua will have a night vigil, where families, sponsored members and staff will join together in prayer. Throughout the duration of the walk, they will hold morning prayers and ask God to give both physical and spiritual strength to the walkers and to all of the families who will accompany them on this journey.

One employee, Jerry Gladbach of the Child Services department in Kansas City, made his own show of support for Walk2gether. He strapped cleats onto winter boots and walked 1-1/2 miles to work over snow and ice.

“I’m trying to be in solidarity with the walkers,” Gladbach said.

During the community meeting in Kansas City, CEO Paco Wertin led a prayer of blessing for the walk and its participants.

“Bob’s walk of unity unites all cultures, genders and creeds,” Wertin said. “It’s a way that helps us hear the cry of those living in poverty. He is carrying a message that you are not alone. Because they walk, we walk.”

Visit Walk2gether.org to learn more about why Bob is walking.

You can also send messages of support and encouragement that Bob will share with the families of sponsored members and the CFCA staff in the communities he visits.

Dec 23 2009

Walk2gether begins in one week

The walking begins in one week!

On Dec. 29, CFCA President Bob Hentzen will embark on Walk2gether, an 8,000-mile, 16-month journey through 12 countries in Latin America.

CFCA staff and BobExcitement and anticipation are building as families and CFCA staff in Guatemala prepare to bid Bob and his fellow travelers “Buen Viaje.” More than 65 sponsors participating in the mission awareness trip will also be on hand for the launch.

Meanwhile, CFCA staff in Kansas gave Bob an official send-off when he visited the headquarters in late November. Read more here.

Check out the new Walk2gether website, where you can follow Bob on an interactive map, and explore links to his electronic journals and to videos, slideshows and stories about the realities, people and activities in the countries he visits. You can also send messages of support and encouragement that Bob will share with the families of sponsored members and the CFCA staff in the communities he visits.

Walk2gether is a way to help counterbalance the isolation of people living in poverty, and show them that someone cares. The walk will help build community and strengthen the bonds of unity between CFCA’s sponsored members, sponsors and staff. It will also symbolize and promote the unity of countries, races, languages, genders and creeds. Visit Walk2gether.org to learn more.

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

Aug 11 2009

August isn’t back-to-school month for everyone

As U.S. students prepare for the onset of school, students in other countries have already taken mid-terms.

That’s right. For students in many countries where CFCA works, school does not start in August or September.

The school year in Central America started in January or February. Those lucky children are only two months away from the end of school. Schoolchildren in India and the Philippines are already into their third month of the school year. And students in Kenyaówell, they follow the British system and attend school all year, with long breaks at the end of each quarter.

Find the school calendar for your friend on the graph below.

School calendar

Related links
Time for school

Jul 7 2009

Bob’s notes ó Visit to Honduras

Mission awareness trip to Honduras
June 20-27, 2009

Counting Cristina, myself and CFCA volunteer Dani, we are 37 sponsors this week in Honduras. With this number of sponsors on hand, we have a large number of sponsored families to see. We begin our journey in the North up near the Atlantic coast, and wind up in the Ocotepeque project, a dynamic little corner of Honduras within eyesight of both El Salvador and Guatemala.

As the level of awareness deepens in the course of a CFCA mission awareness tripóand after spending time with their sponsored family within the CFCA contextósponsors naturally start asking, ìWhatís my place in this story Ö what can I add to this song Ö ?î

An important role of the CFCA staff in each country is to help the sponsors understand the ongoing reality of their people. With their true calling and special grace, I find the interpretations of CFCA staff to be filled with hope, a practical and strong spirituality and resilient humor.

Charged political situation
Right now, Honduras is in the middle of a deep and powerful ideological war. In Central and South America, there are deep stirrings Ö in Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Honduras. It comes down to a real battle for minds and hearts. The situation in Honduras could result in real upheaval. So, we pray, and we work.

Sponsors and sponsored individuals unite in prayer in Honduras.

This group of 34 sponsors truly has been a symbol of Godís love. Even with great distances, poor roads and storms, they have been generous in visiting many families and communities. Thanked to the point of discomfort, they have represented all of the sponsors, in solidarity with the CFCA family.

From Puerto Cortez to Ocotepeque
This mission awareness trip is hosted by Project Ocotepeque. This project is organized in 13 subprojects with a total of 3,794 children and 109 elderly sponsored, and 161 scholars assisted.

Sponsored children and elderly man in the Ocotepeque project

According to the CFCA trip brochure, ìThe primary purpose of the Ocotepeque subprojects A, AU, and B is the formation and education of the children and their families. CFCA helps more than 800 children from these communities go to school, and develops relationships. Parents are trained in activities like tailoring, crafts, and farming, so that they might have their own businesses and increase the household income.î

At our gathering for families and sponsors in San Marcos, Fanny of Santa Rosa offers an original poem written by her mother: ìThis message is for people that see us and know about our needs Ö people who inspire us to reach our dreams Ö people from whom we have received a letter, a picture Ö thank you for helping in our personal growth Ö we are fortunate to have you here with us Ö we love you Ö God bless you always.î

Staff estimates that more than 1,000 CFCA members joined the group in a 6-kilometer solidarity walk on June 25. The walk finished up with Holy Mass, a nice lunch for all, music and a chance to enjoy a water park. There is tremendous interest in Walk2gether (our 8,000-mile pilgrimage beginning December 2009).

There is great adventure in experiencing the profound learning and love of the sponsors, the CFCA families and the entire CFCA staff. I am grateful.

Cristina and I are now off to the National Encuentro (staff formation) in Bolivia.

Godís blessings.

Bob Hentzen

Jul 2 2009

Celebrating freedom

On the Fourth of July, Americans will gather to celebrate Independence Day with fireworks, parades and picnics. Although the United States and the countries CFCA partners with do not celebrate independence on the same date, we share many customs and events.

In Central America, most countries celebrate their independence on Sept. 15 with parades and music. The running of the Central American Freedom Torch from Guatemala to Costa Rica, taking a total of 14 days, reenacts the news of their independence spreading through Central America.

South Americans celebrate with large celebrations, flying flags, parades, fireworks and feasting. In India, all cities have Flag Hoisting Ceremonies run by politicians and other officials. Indian schoolchildren gather to sing songs and watch the hoisting of the flag.

Under colonization, Haitians were forbidden to eat soup, a meal reserved for the upper classes. Now on Independence Day, it is traditional to eat soup to demonstrate the equality of all citizens.

People of the Philippines celebrate their independence with ceremonies, historic exhibitions and memorial events. Festivities begin with a flag-raising ceremony and parade in the historic city of Cavite, where Filipinos first proclaimed their independence.

We would like to encourage you to research how the country your friend lives in celebrates its independence. And from all of us at CFCA, we wish you a safe and wonderful Independence Day.

The Independence Days of the countries CFCA partners with are listed below.

Jan. 1
Feb. 27
Dominican Republic
May 24
June 12
June 26
July 5
July 20
July 26
July 28
Aug. 6
Aug. 15
Sept. 7
Sept. 15
Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua
Sept. 16
Sept. 18
Oct. 9
Dec. 9
Dec. 12


Updated July 1, 2011

May 27 2009

My trip to Nicaragua

By Suzanna Vermeul-Wilson, CFCA sponsor

I have traveled to many places in my life. I have met all kinds of people in many different circumstances. I have served the poor, and I have seen people living in poverty. In my job as a social worker, every day I see children in circumstances that they should not have to live in. I see suffering and sadness, I see human tragedy. The trip that I took to Nicaragua has had an effect on me that I cannot explain. Long after I returned home, I continue to be drawn to that place, to those people.

Suzanna, her husband and their sponsored childMy husband did not want to go on this trip. I asked him several months prior to the mission awareness trip if he would want to go. He did not answer me for some time. After about a month passed, I asked again, and he said that he really didnít want to go. I asked that he consider it, that I really wanted to go ñ that I really wanted him to go. He capitulated, and I bought the tickets the same day! At the first meeting with our sponsored child, my husband cried tears of joy. When we returned home and filled out our evaluations, he stated that this trip was a ìlife-changing experience.î I told him that seeing him there, with those children, his tears of joy and his strong feelings about it made me love him more than ever.

I keep wondering if this intense feeling I have will fade. There is not a day that has passed since our return that I have not thought or prayed for the children and people of Nicaragua. I feel compelled to do something ñ Iím not sure what that is. I have been finding sponsors for children, but that does not quench the thirst that I have. I feel indescribably drawn to these people, to this country, to the simplicity which is their life. I find myself considering things in a new way ñ questioning the day-to-day decisions that our society makes: the waste, the excess, the rampant consumerism and materialism of our society.

I experienced such an intense feeling of relationship with all the people that I met on this trip, with the country, with their ways, it is a feeling that I canít really describe. It was wonderfully satisfying to meet our sponsored child and to see what our monthly assistance has done for him and his family. I felt a connection with him, yes, a happiness from him to meet us after all these 11 years of sponsorship. I felt the warmth from his family and their gratitude and a sense of connection that only our good God can give to people.

I feel that there is something I am called to do. There is a longing inside of me, a constant tug at my heart. I feel like Iím searching for something in a fog. I keep waking in the night with an anticipation in my mind. During the day my thoughts constantly drift to Nicaragua. At home, at work, even in my leisure time, I feel a strong pull that Iím supposed to do something with these feelings. Iím not sure what this is ñ what it means, or how I can be of further service. Every day I want to be back in Nicaragua. Is it the Lord somehow calling to me? I am listening, Lord ñ what are you trying to say to me?