Tag: solidarity

Mar 11 2011

Walk2gether touches the tropics, rainforests of Bolivia

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Bob Hentzen recently wrote to the CFCA headquarters from the road in Bolivia. You can see the full update on his Facebook page.

Itís a pleasure to be in touch from Bolivia.

The going has been challenging with high altitudes, swollen rivers and steaming tropics. Yet each morning we have walked with confidence and wonder into the morning sunrise and enjoyed spectacular beauty of the rainforest.

We have been accompanied and inspired by walkers from different nations – devoted sisters from Poland and Colombia, volunteers from Switzerland and the USA, orphans and youth with different abilities, CFCA sponsors from Minnesota and Iowa.

Through these photos we offer you the smiles of our young people, the determination of our mothers and the joyful exhaustion of our walkers.

I thank you for your solidarity as we move on now to the CFCA projects in Brazil. We will enter Chile at Tambo Quemado on March 22. The Atacama Desert awaits us.

We ask for your prayers.
Bob

Walk2gether is now in Brazil. The walkers arrived there March 9.

Dec 22 2010

Donate in honor of a loved one

Donate in honor of a loved oneThis Christmas season, have you considered a donation in honor of a friend or family member?

When you make a donation to CFCA in honor of a loved one, you are also giving families living in poverty the gift of hope.

Your contribution will support and strengthen our programs with children, youth and the aging around the world.

You can even print off a card to let the person you are honoring know about your gift.†Click here to make your donation.

Dec 15 2010

Advent reflection: Embrace the humanity that led to our salvation

Larry LivingstonEvery Wednesday during the Advent-Christmas season, we will post a reflection from Larry Livingston, CFCA church relations director. We hope these reflections help you on your own journey through Advent.

ì…the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.î (Isaiah 7:14)

With the Fourth Week of Advent we enter into the final few days of preparation for our celebration of Christmas and the gift of the Incarnation. As the prophet Isaiah proclaims, and as Matthewís Gospel reiterates (Matthew 1:18-24), God is with us!

Try as we might, we can never fully wrap our minds around such a wondrous reality. The best we can hope to do is humbly reflect on what it means, for each of us and for the world, that God has entered into such intimate solidarity with the human family.

Being human ñ that is to say, being a spiritual person with a physical body ñ has its own particular challenges. Humans experience hunger and thirst. We endure sickness and disease. We canít fly without machines, nor can we move through walls.

Unlike our spiritual cousins, the angels, to be human is to be bound by the limitations of the material world.

And, of course, humans are mortal. More to the point, we know we are mortal.

Samuel and his family

The family of Samuel, second from left, a sponsored child from Kenya. Samuel is physically challenged.

No matter how we try to distract ourselves from it, the reality of death is ever present within our consciousness. So much of what we do, for better or worse, is influenced by that awareness.

But there is so much more.

To be human is also to be blessed with imagination and ingenuity. We have the ability to hope, to dream and to work to make our dreams come true.

While we have limitations, we also have the will and the resourcefulness to overcome those limitations in highly creative ways. We are storytellers, poets and visionaries.

We are also capable of great and generous acts of kindness. We are compassionate beings whose natural impulse is to love, and we seek out others with whom we can dwell in loving communion.

Yes, in our sinfulness we are also capable of acts of selfishness and cruelty, but like a magnet that always seeks true north, the genuine inclination of most human beings is toward the good.

At CFCA, we are blessed to be reminded on a daily basis of human goodness. In the resolve of sponsored persons, in the loving support of their families, in the resourcefulness of their communities, and in the willingness of sponsors to invest in their hopes and dreams, we see the best of humanity.

The CFCA world proclaims, with joy, that God is truly with us!

In Jesus we come to know that it is not the denial of our humanity that leads to salvation, but rather the full embrace of it.

May this Christmas be a time to embrace in ever deeper ways the God who dwells within each of us and among all the people of our good world.

Dec 1 2010

Advent reflection: Dare to dream of a better world

Larry LivingstonEvery Wednesday during the Advent-Christmas season, we will post a reflection from Larry Livingston, CFCA church relations director. We hope these reflections help you on your own journey through Advent.

ìÖhe shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the landís afflicted.î (Isaiah 11:4)

The second Sunday in Advent presents us with one of the most evocative images in Scripture. In this lovely reading from Isaiah (Isaiah 11:1-10), the prophet paints a magnificent picture of wolves reclining alongside lambs and babies playing in safety around venomous snakes.

He describes a peaceful land of hay-eating lions and gentle leopards, where former predators recline without aggression and the former prey roam without fear.

Isaiah uses this picturesque image to stir the imagination as he foretells the coming of the Messiah.

Writing in a time of upheaval for Israel, with the glory days of David long past and the kingdom largely decimated, the prophet seeks to both admonish and reassure the people.

Just wait until the Messiah ó the Son of David ó comes! He will restore glory to Israel and bring order and harmony to the land.

Flash forward to 2010. Disorder reigns and harmony is in short supply. Lions still eat meat and wise parents still keep their children away from snakes.

More than 2,000 years after the birth of the one Christians embrace as the Messiah, the world is no better than it was in Isaiahís day. So what gives?

Martha and Suzanne

Martha, left, from Nicaragua, and her sponsor, Suzanne

The people who first knew Jesus were forced to grapple with that same question. And, ultimately, those who chose to follow him had to let go of some deeply rooted, preconceived notions.

They had to empty themselves of their expectations of the Messiah as a great king or military leader in order to embrace a savior more powerful than they could have imagined. They had to take a leap of faith to discover the true Christ.

It is the same for us. At times we are tempted to wrap ourselves in our own preconceptions like a security blanket, especially at this time of year when the sentimentality of the holidays is hard to resist.

But if our Advent preparation ó our reflection on the coming of the Christ ó never gets past the baby in the manger, we canít grow in our awareness of who Jesus is and what he truly means for each of us and for our world.

We, too, must take leaps of faith. We must push our comfort zones and dare to dream, like Isaiah, of a world different from the one we now see.

Those who participate in CFCAís Hope for a Family program ó sponsors and sponsored persons ó have taken the leap of faith necessary to embrace the dream of a world where people share their blessings with one another and help lift each other up.

And their dream is coming true, one relationship at a time.

Nov 30 2010

A family transformed through CFCA’s work in El Salvador

We have two new stories on our website, hopeforafamily.org. Even though they focus on two people – Santiago and his son, Cesar – they are all about one incredible family.

Santiago's family

Santiago and his family

Santiago, from El Salvador, credits CFCA sponsorship with giving his family a support network of local CFCA staff, sponsors for his children and other families in the CFCA program.

ìI think the best gift that I could have received from God is to have a group of people who support me,î he said.

His oldest son, Cesar, is planning to study accounting and English. He’s a CFCA scholar and has received educational assistance, clothing and school supplies.

ìWithout CFCA, my parents could not cover these needs and I would have to drop out of school and go out and work to help my parents bring up my siblings,î Cesar said. ìThis is a real impact on my family and on my life.î

In the future, Cesar hopes to start a family, own a home and buy a car.

Read Santiago’s story here.

Read Cesar’s story here.

Nov 10 2010

Walking in solidarity with our CFCA sponsors

By Ruth Hubenthal, CFCA Sponsor Services

I love talking to sponsors. Not only do I work at CFCA, but Iím a sponsor too.

Sponsors are hard-working, extraordinary people with big hearts and open minds.

You will see many stories about how amazing our sponsored members and their families are, about how they struggle to overcome difficulties, and live day to day to raise their families. But you know, CFCA sponsors are just as amazing.

Ruth Hubenthal

Ruth Hubenthal

You see, sponsorship is not just about sending a monthly amount of money, although this is very important. It is about having a respectful relationship with someone you may never meet.

So many sponsors have lost a loved one, but rather than shutting down their hearts, they open them up and allow sponsored members and their families a share of that love and compassion.

That takes courage. That takes passion. And I am fortunate enough to hear these stories every day.

The amount we as sponsors send each month may not be a whole lot. However, to sponsors like me who have babies, or to sponsors on a monthly pension, it takes budgeting, commitment and patience to send that amount.

But sponsors see what good stewardship CFCA dedicates itself to, and they know in their hearts that itís the right thing to do. Itís worth every penny.

Our president and co-founder, Bob Hentzen, is in the midst of his walk from Guatemala to Chile to show solidarity with sponsored members and their families.

Everywhere you go in the CFCA world, solidarity walks are taking place.

Sponsored members and their families in the Philippines, India, Mexico, Kenya and other countries are all walking to show that they are a true part of this community of compassion.

But you know what? They are also walking in solidarity with their sponsors.

They are walking to show their support of the incredibly brave, generous people who are giving them a second chance ñ their sponsors.

They are walking in solidarity with you.

Nov 8 2010

Walk2gether sparks gallery of T-shirts

So we all know that CFCA President and Co-founder Bob Hentzen is passing through 12 countries on an 8,000-mile walk called Walk2gether. Weíve had UnivisiÛn, Fox 4 KC and the Kansas City Star report on him.

What you may not have heard about is the fashion statement that CFCA is making in the process!

Many of the countries in which Bob is walking have made Walk2gether T-shirts for CFCA staff members, sponsored friends and their families to wear as badges of honor.

Enjoy the sample gallery slideshow that weíve created:

Local companies and some CFCA livelihood projects have benefited from the design, manufacturing and distribution of these T-shirts.

One report in particular touched us: Benjamin Nestor, a sponsored youth in El Salvador who is in a wheelchair, created the Salvadoran T-shirtís design.

Henry Flores, director of the CFCA Communication Center in El Salvador, told us that Benjamin taught himself how to use Photoshop, a graphic design program.

ìA group of friends gave Benjamin the computer and he started to play with it,î Henry wrote. ìHe is awesome!î

Note: One of the benefits CFCA provides sponsored members is clothing. Many of them especially enjoy wearing their T-shirts designed with the CFCA and Walk2gether logos!

Oct 27 2010

Philippine sponsored members keep Texan sponsors in their prayers

We received this message from our CFCA project in Antipolo, Philippines:

“We are thinking at this moment of the people, particularly our sponsors, in Texas. We have seen in the news the huge tornado that hit the state of Texas. We hope and pray our sponsors are safe.

Please know we keep them in our thoughts and prayers for their recovery as we understand how one feels when affected by calamity.

Sincerely,

CFCA Antipolo Family

PHILIPPINES”

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?

Sep 22 2010

Brother writes letter after sponsored youth dies

This translated letter is from the brother of a sponsored youth, the late Santos SalomÛn, in Guatemala, from CFCAís Hermano Pedro project. The brother is writing to Santosí sponsor after Santosí recent death. Please remember Santos and his family in prayer.

“Hi, my name is Luis Felipe. I am the brother of Santos SalomÛn. I am writing you on his behalf since he can no longer write. Receive my most cordial greetings and wishes for success and blessings in your daily endeavors.

Santos SalomÛn

Santos SalomÛn

“The reason I am writing is to thank you with all my heart for the help you sent my brother and our family for so long. It was a blessing because all that he received, thanks to your financial support, was for the benefit of our home and especially for him because your support enabled him to study medicine in the university.

“His strongest desire was to become a doctor. Even though he wasnít yet a doctor, he visited the sick. He said that God was with the sick. He asked me to accompany him several times but I was bored. But he said there is no better medicine than God and a smile. When we were together, he always infected others with his joy. His happiness was the best doctor for me, but no more.

“We should remember that our lives are not our own, but loaned to us from God, so we must live according to his will and not according to our own. Luis knew this until the very end. One day on his way to studying, a bus on which he was riding collided with another bus. God decided that it was time for him to go. I think that God wanted someone to make him laugh.

“I experienced so many things with Santos, from talking to a girl on the way to church, playing soccer together, visiting the sick, bringing joy to the elderly, singing on our way home, and selling ice cream together.

“I was filled with pride when he did his charity work, especially with those most in need. They were small gifts, but they meant a lot. He gave ice cream to children, gave his seat on the bus to an elderly woman. I was always at his side, aware that he was preparing me for my new task.

“I understood one day in church when the priest explained that there are moments when we no longer live in Jesus. He lives in us. This teaches us to live. This is what I learned from my brotherís example. I told myself that Santos lives no more, but rather it is Jesus Christ who lives in Santos. The days he didnít go to church were because he had something urgent to do because he preferred to go to church to do his job in life. He said that God gives us wisdom to do it and without it, we canít begin our job.

“Our whole family grieves his death, but we know that he is an angel of Jesus and he takes care of us from heaven. He no longer belongs to the CFCA family, but I invite you to sponsor another child. We know that you are a great person. You will do it. May God bless you. We bid you farewell with respect, gratitude and love.

Attentively,

Luis Felipe, brother of Santos SalomÛn”