Tag: Venezuela

Field report
Aug 12 2017

Serving families in Venezuela amidst crisis

Field report

As government security forces clash with protestors and inflation continues to rise, tension and economic instability in Venezuela are escalating rapidly.

The 3,500 families Unbound serves in Venezuela face the daily hardships of food scarcity, transportation interruptions and power outages.

Our program in Venezuela is based in Barquisimeto, a city of more than 800,000 residents located 225 miles west of the nation’s capital, Caracas. We serve sponsored members and their families there through the efforts of 26 local staff members. Keep reading

An image of upturned hands.
Jul 22 2017

The resilience of the Venezuelan people

A letter from our program coordinator in Venezuela

An image of upturned hands.
Updated August 3, 2017

You may have seen news reports on the increasingly volatile situation in Venezuela over the past several months. Unbound is helping the families we serve there get through skyrocketing inflation, widespread food shortages and large-scale protests that have been occurring on a near daily basis. The Unbound program in Venezuela is located in Barquisimeto, where we serve more than 3,400 families.

Staff and families there face daily hardship caused by unrest and economic instability, such as lack of food, transportation or electricity. Teams in our headquarters in Kansas City and in nearby Colombia and Bolivia are doing their best to support the staff in Barquisimeto, who are working tirelessly to ensure sponsored members continue to receive benefits and support.

Eliezer J. Lobo R., Unbound’s general coordinator in Venezuela, recently wrote a letter addressed to those who sponsor children and elders in his country. He provided an update on how the situation there is affecting our sponsored members and their families, and how the families and our staff are innovating and adapting within the current reality. Because we know others have concerns about the situation in Venezuela, we’re sharing the letter here as well.

As we see over and over, despite the challenges, the families we work with are full of hope. They envision a better future for their children and for themselves. Unbound is there to partner with these families as they work to achieve their dreams, and we’re there to support them through their struggles.

We ask that you keep these families, and all the people of Venezuela, in your thoughts and prayers.
Read Eliezer’s letter

Jun 7 2010

Walk2gether gives staff members a challenge

Dear blog readers,

Sunilde and Judith

Sunilde (left), Barquisimeto project coordinator in Venezuela at the border with Judith, Bogota, Colombia, project coordinator

With an emotional encounter between Colombian and Venezuelan colleagues in Paraguachon, Colombia, Walk2gether ended its time in Venezuela, leaving behind in each of us a process of profound reflection, inspired by shared moments and all the things weíve seen during this long journey.

Also, this encounter between colleagues reaffirms that there are no borders when our unity comes from God. The most important thing is that with this experience, we understand a little more about the challenge set before us by CFCA to give hope to families.

Likewise, the walk allowed us to affirm our own reality in the context of strengths and weaknesses clearly evidenced on the route/trip.

ï Beautiful landscapes
ï The presence of our CFCA families (parents, guardians, boys, girls, teenagers and the elderly), giving us their support and solidarity at all times.
ï The support we received from people and families who arenít a part of the sponsorship program.
ï The logistical support on the part of the sponsored teenagers and scholarship students.

ï The large quantities of trash observed along the route of the walk.
ï Dead animals, the majority of which were run over on the highways.
ï Violence along the roads committed by the drivers of the vehicles.

Challenges raised by the Walk
We are called from this point forward to a series of very significant challenges in our community-level intervention and especially, in our work with CFCA families:

Social challenges
ï Learn to live in community.
ï Respect diversity in its different manifestations: ethnic, political, religious, cultural and others.
ï Relationship with the environment of which we are a part.
ï Emphasize a true culture of peace.
ï Quality education for all.
Challenges to life
ï Respect life. Encourage a culture of life to counter the culture of death that reveals itself to us in the form of violence and threatens individual security.
ï Protection for the lives of animals.
ï Respect for human rights.
Environmental challenges
ï Elimination of trash, starting with the communities where we work.
ï Beautifying the communities.
ï Care and conservation of natural resources.

I say goodbye with sincere thanks for this experience, and for Bob and Cristinaís presence among us as symbols of peace and brotherhood among all people.

Sunilde PÈrez
Barquisimeto Project Coordinator, Venezuela

May 5 2010

Singing at the border

After Walk2gether entered Colombia, Henry Flores, director of the CFCA Communication Center in El Salvador, contacted Judith Bautista, project coordinator for Bogota, Colombia, to see how the walk is going.

How was the experience of Walk2gether entering Colombia?
JudithIt was very exciting. It was Saturday, and I was in company of Isabel, another CFCA-Colombia staff member. We did not expect the walk to arrive until the next day. We were at the border, reviewing some plans and, suddenly, we turned toward the Venezuelan side of the border and saw a group of people with traffic vests and flags, and Bob was leading them. I got really excited, they were singing and we started singing back. It was incredible, emotional. All of us from the CFCA team in Colombia, about 60 people, walked to meet them. We laughed, hugged each other. There was joy, smiles and tears, this was an unbelievable moment for me.

Did the Walk2gether group have any problem crossing the border?
They did not have any problem entering Colombia. One thing we were told by the border authorities is that they needed us to keep informing them of the location of the walk every other week so they could be alert.

How was it for you to work with the CFCA Venezuela team to organize the walk?
It has been great! They are a great team: hard-working women and very close to their communities. The project coordinator in Venezuela, Sunilde, and I have an excellent relationship, when we saw each other at the border we both cried, and it was hard to say goodbye.

Sunilde and I have a lot in common. We both share the same spirit for CFCA, the same values, and we both enjoy working with the sponsored members of CFCA. Our dream of finding options for our communities is something that unites us. She is a woman who has done much for the communities in Venezuela.

Sunilde shared with me the rough moments they experienced in Venezuela while walking. In some places, people, in general, understood about the walk, but some who didnít understand were rude to them.

So, working with the Venezuelan team gives me a sense of admiration because in spite of all their challenges, they are doing so much good for the students, families, communities, etc. Their sponsored children and elderly are people with brave hearts.

What is the feeling of the CFCA Colombian team of welcoming the walk?
Looking at the walkers crossing into Colombia is something that we were dreaming about for a long time. In Colombia, we are excited and happy, hearing our voices united in song with the voices of the Venezuelan team was beautiful.

Ending one section of the walk and beginning a new phase is admirable. The feeling is something hard to describe, it is something that you feel in your heart and soul.

Seeing both flags, Colombian and Venezuelan, waving in the middle of the border between both countries, was like being in limbo, where nothing else mattered. I remembered that borders can be drawn by the men but, in spite of them, CFCA reaches across, like a big family, and words are inadequate to describe this feeling.

The flag of unity of CFCA tells us that something very special is happening in the world and in all of the countries where Walk2gether visits.

Apr 23 2010

Venezuela murals honor Walk2gether and environment

Walk2gether has left a lasting impact in Venezuela in the form of five murals located along the walk route.

The murals, each about 2 meters by 4 meters, were designed by a sponsored scholar and a CFCA volunteer from Spain. The majority of the work was completed by sponsored youth and scholar students, with some help from parents and CFCA staff.

Working on the CFCA murals in Venezuela

It took one full weekend and nearly 40 gallons of paint to complete the murals. The mural team split into five groups and spent a Saturday sketching the murals and began painting (the surface was prepped the weekend before). They completed the painting the next day.

Venezuela murals, in progress

The murals symbolize scenes from the walk with a focus on nature and the importance of preserving our environment.

The murals focus on nature and protecting the environment.

Sunilde PÈrez, Barquisimeto project coordinator, said of the environmental theme in the murals, “We are all united as one community.”

The central theme of the walk is to remind families that they are not alone. The CFCA familyómade up of sponsors, staff, volunteers and other sponsored membersóis with them every step of the way.

“We are all in this together,” Sunilde said. “Everything that we do has an effect. When the walk passes through, it affects all of us, as well as our environment.”

Apr 15 2010

‘To be more’ is more important than ‘to have more’

Dear sponsors,

We, at the Barquisimeto project, welcomed with special affection our dear friends, Bob and Cristina Hentzen. Their presence among the Venezuelan sponsored members is a solid witness of faith and hope. This movement is being called Walk2gether: together in our joys, together in our sorrows, together in good times, together in bad times.

Therefore, to us, Walk2gether means:

Creating links of unity and brotherhood.

To be witness to life among our sponsored members.

To recognize in each sponsored member their dignity and their right to a life full of opportunities.

To empower all who bring life to the sponsorship program so they may bear faithful witnesses to their own growth and development.

Through these meanings we join in solidarity with Bob when he says, ìBy walking with the poor, we are telling them they are not alone.î

Walk2gether represents a way of faith, solidarity and hope for all of us that are a part of CFCA in Venezuela.

Walk2gether encourages us to see with kind eyes the needs of our people.

Walk2gether is an activity that holds up humanity at all times, above all else. It gives special meaning to CFCAís statement that ìto be moreî is more important than ìto have more.î

Sunilde PÈrez
Project Coordinator
Barquisimeto, Venezuela

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 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