Tag: South America

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.

Jun 10 2009

Bob’s notes – special report, part 2

Mission awareness trip to Colombia
May 24-June 1, 2009
Part 2

This mission awareness trip focuses on CFCA projects near Medellin and Cartagena, Colombia. The next Colombia trip in July will visit the area of Bogota. I find the CFCA teams in these projects very devoted and very organized. Please keep CFCA Colombia in your prayers.

Project Madre Paula
During our gathering at the university, we experienced flowers, mothers and a warm welcome. Mary Luz Palacios is the coordinator and the brand new mother of Emanuel. In the Madre Paula project we have 1,078 children, 150 aging and 11 seminarians.

Introductory words by Mary Luz:

“It is very moving for us today to have this chance of meeting each one of you. We are totally convinced of the importance of these visits. Every child, elder, dad or mom manifests particular needs … our mission is much more than granting material benefits … we make every effort to respond to the multiple needs, worries, sorrows, joys and dreams behind each face.”

Can you believe it? I came to Cartagena over 50 years ago as a young brother and teacher at Colegio La Salle. We just passed the school, still huge as ever up there on the hill.

Gathering at home office
Welcome and prayer acted out by the seven children sponsored by members of this group. Isabel Hernandez, coordinator, said:

“Thanks for the confidence. Thank you for coming. Let us live fully this beautiful experience.”

Adrian Velazquez with Jordan and his mother.

Adrian Velazquez with Jordan and his mother (left).

Visit to Pasacaballos
In a town located about 15 miles from Cartagena the people deal with high levels of malnourishment, drug addiction, domestic violence and high level of school dropouts. On the upside, I find 387 children, aging, scholars bright-eyed, grateful and eager to overcome any obstacle. Teenager Loraine spoke in pretty accurate English with a simple message: “I love you.” Scholars are working with sponsored aging in basic reading and writing.

In the third family my group visited, 18-year-old Jose Vicente, sponsored since second grade, expressed the highest form of admiration for his aging campesino grandfather by stating that he plans to stay in farming. Next year he plans to enter the university to become a professional agronomist and then become a CFCA sponsor. Late in the day, we visited a CFCA livelihood bakery. The eight mothers involved here look sharp in their white outfits and face masks. Their location for sales looks good, and they have a large variety of breads. They also enjoy professional assessment by two business majors from the University of Cartagena.
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Feb 3 2009

Notes from the Field #6 – Ecuador

Sarah Marquart, CFCA project specialist, talks about Maria, a sponsored aging woman in Ecuador. She received dentures from the dental program funded by CFCA. Now that her smile has been restored, she is truly a happier woman.

Oct 6 2008

Blog for CFCA and join the discussion on global poverty

Join the discussion about global poverty on Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2008.

We know that people in the blogosphere can learn so much through your CFCA sponsor experiences: what it’s like to join with families living in poverty; telling about how your own view of poverty has changed through your sponsorship, and how poverty now has a personal meaning for you.

Blog Action Day ’08 gives bloggers around the world a chance to focus one day Wednesday, Oct. 15 – on one topic – poverty.

Blog Action Day ’08 gives bloggers around the world a chance to focus one day  Wednesday, Oct. 15 – on one topic – poverty.

Here’s how the Blog Action Day Web site describes it:
“Blog Action Day is an annual nonprofit event that aims to unite the world’s bloggers, podcasters and videocasters, to post about the same issue on the same day. Our aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion.”

To be a part of the event:

  1. Register your blog on the blog action day site (blogactionday.com) between now and Oct. 14.
  2. Start preparing your blog message based on your experiences as a CFCA sponsor.
    (e-mail us if you have questions)
  3. Post your blog entry on Oct. 15.

At the end of your blog post, please feel free to include the following description of CFCA:

CFCA is a Kansas City-based international movement serving people living in poverty in 25 developing countries. We help families put food on the table, send their children to school and have a decent place to live so that together we can end the cycle of poverty. Founded by lay Catholics acting on the call to serve the poor, CFCA serves people of all faiths. To learn more, or to sponsor a child, visit www.cfcausa.org.

If you don’t have a blog, but would like to start one to post your message about poverty, here are a few blog sites that make it quick and easy:

Thank you for joining CFCA and sharing your personal story to help the world gain a better understanding of poverty and ways to help.