Tag: Walk with the Poor

Dec 7 2010

Walk2gether: Peruvian children cheer on Bob

Catherine QuirogaCatherine Quiroga, CFCA director of information services, sent us this reflection from Peru. She has safely returned to the U.S. after joining Walk2gether, which continues in Peru.

We walked into Lima to a residence home for girls (Nuestra SeÒora de Misericordia, or “Our Lady of Mercy”).

When I arrived on Thursday morning, we came here to ride out with them (or them with us) to meet Bob. We stuffed 20 people into a van probably intended for 15 ñ girls, a couple of moms, a couple of Catholic sisters, Luis (from Ocotepeque, Honduras) and myself. What a welcome to Peru!

They fashioned extra seats in the van by putting in little wooden school chairs. This was in addition to girls sitting on one anotherís laps. They were all so friendly, good-hearted and joyful.

Walk2gether in Peru

A Peruvian group joins Walk2gether out in the desert.

Bob told me the residence home had contests ñ the group that could come up with the best cheers for Bob would get to join him for a day.

When we found Bobís entourage (thankfully, close to a rest time), they cheered him on appropriately. Lots of hugs, hellos, etc. Ö After a brief rest, we got them vested up (with safety vests) and we were off.

When we stopped for lunch at 30 km (about 18.6 miles), one mom could barely move. Her feet seemed to be made out of wooden blocks. Ö. But she wouldnít give up.

She finished out the entire 35 km (about 21.7 miles) ñ so sweet, so determined to be a part of this movement and show her gratitude to Bob. She joined us again today. Both she and her feet fully recovered.

Back to today …

We drove to the residence home after yesterdayís walk and stayed the night here. And although many of the girls said they were going to walk with us today, none showed up at 3 a.m. when we were leaving.

At some point in the morning, a somewhat small bus stopped on the other side of the highway and our first group joined us (about 15-20 in this group).

A little bit later up the road, I saw something ñ a huge sign … more kids. Introductions, songs, cheers, more vests handed out, more water and onward … a little further down the road, the familiar blue van ñ kids from the residence home. What a joy to see them again!

Walk2gether in Peru

Girls from the residence home meet Walk2gether.

As we neared Lima, another group ñ more girls from the residence home walking to meet us! What a delight!

We now had anywhere from 70-100 people ñ moms, kids and vehicles. … Thankfully we also had a police escort.

As we prepared for a water/rest stop, they moved us further along to a safer place ñ there was now time for rest and more water.

I do hope I can get the pictures uploaded of the welcome we received at the residence home in Lima. Both sides of the entrance lined with kids, teachers, other CFCA subproject coordinators along with a band. What fanfare.

They treated us to a nice program ñ more band music, introductions, speeches, etc. before they finally released us!

Nov 22 2010

CFCA board member travels to India

Carolyn Zimmerman, a CFCA board member, recently went on a mission awareness trip to India. CFCA President and Co-founder Bob Hentzen took time out from Walk2gether in Peru to attend the Mothers Annual Conference in Hyderabad. While there, the Hyderabad project held a Walk2gether solidarity walk.

1) How did you hear of CFCA, and how did you become a board member?
I read a newspaper story about CFCA and knew that a co-worker and friend had recently become a sponsor. I decided with my husband, Jon, to sponsor a young girl in Guatemala, a country we had visited about 20 years ago.

Coincidentally, a few months later, Sister Therese Wetta, a former CFCA board member and a classmate from Saint Mary College in Leavenworth, asked if she could nominate me for the CFCA board. I agreed, and after making my written application, I was selected.

2) What was the Walk2gether solidarity walk like?

Carolyn Zimmerman, CFCA board member

Carolyn Zimmerman

The solidarity walk happened in Hyderabad and our traveling team was expecting to participate. However, there were some security concerns at the time and it was decided that instead we would meet up with Bob and the Walk2gether solidarity walkers at the Mothers Annual Conference, which began late morning.

3) How would you describe the mothers groups and the Indian news media’s coverage of the conference?

These groups are very interesting and inspiring to me. I believe they are an important development in CFCAís hopes for the future of the sponsored children. The women are achieving a new dignity and confidence as they learn practical skills and ways to navigate their world to benefit their children. There is a sense of community and common purpose.

At the annual conference, there was quite a bit of media attention, especially because of Bobís presence and the participation of the stateís Home Minister, who is evidently supportive of CFCA in Hyderabad. She recognizes the value of the organization and the progressive nature of the work.

4) Had you ever been to India before? If not, what were you expecting and how did the experience measure up to your expectations?

This was my first trip to India. My knowledge of the country was ñ and still is ñ limited. My sources were a childhood book, The Secret Garden, whose heroine Mary returned to England after her parents died of cholera in India, and the movie Gandhi along with some of that great manís writings. I had also been reading a recent novel, Shantaram.

Stories of overpopulation and abject poverty have long dominated Western media; those stories and the current situation with Pakistan led me to be a little anxious about the trip.

The experience confirmed some old impressions of India ó teeming cities, in-your-face poverty, abysmal slums, and child beggars swarming among the cars at traffic stops ó but also revealed many beauties.

I appreciated the co-existence of many religious traditions. In Calcutta we were awakened before 5 a.m. by an Islamic call to prayer from a nearby mosque; then we heard the sweet singing of our Catholic sister hosts in the upstairs convent chapel. Passersby on the streets wore distinctive dress, identifying them as Muslim or Hindu.

Color was everywhere, especially in the womenís saris and other traditional dresses worn daily. On a humorous note, I was often asked by families if I would be in a picture with their children; I must have been the whitest person theyíd ever seen.

Read more

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 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?

Oct 13 2010

Sponsor reflects on what it means to “walk with the poor”

Everyone at CFCA is grateful for every sponsor who has chosen to partner with us. Here is a beautiful reflection from Matthew Potter, CFCA sponsor and volunteer.

“To walk with the poor.” Thatís a phrase that sometimes just trickles from our lips without really thinking about it.

Sherry, Evanson and Matthew

From left are Sherry Sopha-Potter, Evanson from Kenya and Matthew Potter.

We watch Bob Hentzen lace up his boots and head on down the road knowing that he does, indeed, walk with the poor.

Do we, as CFCA sponsors, walk with the poor, even though we arenít on the road with Bob?

In fact, we do. The most obvious way is when we make our contribution each month in support of our sponsored friends.

We took on this responsibility in a conscious action with the intention of helping someone who needs some assistance, and with the knowledge that sharing in our good fortune is a directive given to us by God.

Jesus tells us, “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” (Luke 12:48, New American Bible)

The money we send to CFCA each month goes to help a real, live person. Someone whose name we know, who goes to sleep each night and wakes up each morning.

Someone who laughs, cries, celebrates joyous occasions and worries about what challenges life will bring today. In other words, someone a lot like us.

Our lives are richer because of our relationships with our sponsored friends.

We walk with our friends each time we make our contribution, each time we write a letter, each time we pray for them.

They help us along the journey with their love and prayers.

Even though we may not travel the road with Bob, through our sponsorship and our faith, we most assuredly do walk with the poor.

Sep 13 2010

Walk2gether finds company in Kenya

Meru celebrates Walk2gether.

People walk in Meru, Kenya, in solidarity with CFCA President Bob Hentzen as he continues on Walk2gether.

From Michigan to Meru, Kenya, people associated with CFCA are creating their own versions of ìWalk2gether,î CFCA President Bob Hentzenís ongoing journey from Guatemala to Chile (Bob is now in Peru). Here is a report by Regina Mburu, communications liaison in Kenya, of a 16-mile solidarity walk.

ìBy walking with them, we are saying you are not alone, we are listening to you and we are learning from you.î ñ CFCA President Bob Hentzen, who has been walking since Dec. 29, 2009.

In a show of solidarity with this noble course, the CFCA-Meru community organized a walk on Aug. 20, 2010.

A Kenyan woman weaves a basket.

A woman weaves as she walks in Meru, Kenya.

The 25.5-kilometer (16-mile) walk in the rural setting of Meru attracted many members of the CFCA community. Led by a group that held high the CFCA Walk2gether banner, the participants braved the hot sun and dusty roads. This day held great significance to them.

Some women decided to make their walk more interesting by weaving as they walked, their hands busy at work but their feet swift as they enthusiastically joined Bob in his pilgrimage.

ìAs I joined the Meru CFCA community in this walk, I could sense the deep sense of commitment and pride the community has towards the foundation, walking the significant distance is a demonstration of oneness with Bob,î said Marios Wanjiku, Meru project coordinator.

At the end of the walk, there were cultural presentations made to crown the day.

ìWe are glad to take part in Bobís journey; we pray that walking together will help us understand each otherís needs better,î Wanjiku said. ìWe hope that Bob will feel encouraged as he carries on with his mission.î

Editorís note: Read about another recent solidarity walk in Michigan.

May 25 2010

Welcome, Allie and Sami

We’re very excited to introduce two volunteers, Allie and Sami, who will help out on our Walk with the Poor Facebook page this summer. They will be the ones behind the discussion questions, status updates, comments and more. After you meet Allie and Sami here on the blog, head over to Facebook, and leave a message to welcome them!

Allie Kline
My name is Allie Kline, and I’m a junior communication major at Missouri State University. In my free time, I like to hang out with my friends and family, watch St. Louis Cardinals baseball and read. I’ve been involved with CFCA since 2000. I have been sponsoring Allison in Costa Rica since 2006 and visited her and her family on a mission awareness trip in 2009.

SamiSami Freese
My name is Sami, and I live in Denver, Colo. I’m in between my junior and senior year of high school, and I’m 17 years old. I did speak at NCYC, so those of you who were there, hi again! Those who weren’t, hello for the first time! I’ve been sponsoring with CFCA since I was 8, and I went on a mission awareness trip two years ago. CFCA and sponsorship is a big part of who I am, and I’ve realized I can help those in need. It has been an eye-opening and deeply humbling experience, and I hope to share it with you.

May 21 2010

A cathedral of hope

Jerlin Julieta, 17, from Costa Rica, is a senior in high school and a CFCA scholarship student. To fulfill the service component required of all CFCA scholarship recipients, Jerlin, who graduates this year, helps the project staff in several different areas. She accompanies social workers on home visits, and she helps with office work. She is the leader in her community, especially in activities related to the other scholarship students in the area. Together, they help with monthly meetings, celebrations, etc.

Rafa Villalobos, San Jose project coordinator, said that Jerlin means a lot to the project staff. They felt especially protective of her after her father died.

“In the midst of great difficulty, she has moved on, overcoming obstacles,” Rafa said. “When Don Roberto heard her testimony during a mission awareness trip, he said her story was a cathedral of hope.”

In the video below, Jerlin talks about how the CFCA scholarship program has helped her through many obstacles in life and how receiving a good education is allowing her to achieve her dreams.

Nov 16 2009

We’ll see you at NCYC

NCYC alert: The CFCA treadmills are back!

The National Catholic Youth Conference (or NCYC, as it is more commonly known) is a three-day event, full of prayer, fun and oh, did we mention, 20,000 high school students. The biennial conference comes to Kansas City, Mo., Nov. 19-21, and CFCA is excited to be at NCYC again this year.

Back to the treadmills, two years ago, NCYC participants were invited by CFCA to walk on treadmills to raise money for students living in poverty. This year, we’re doing it again.

We’re hosting an interactive exhibit (Exhibit 9) in the Reign Forest where students can learn more about sponsorship, watch videos of students around the world and walk on treadmills to raise money toward the sponsorship of Walk with the Poor students.

To top it off, CFCA sponsor and Colorado high school student Sami Freese, 17, will deliver a key-note address at the Saturday general session for all NCYC attendees. We can’t wait!

At NCYC 2007, youth walked a total of 2,234 minutes on the treadmills. This year, while they walk, they’ll get to watch this video of Sami telling about why she sponsors through CFCA.

Join us on Facebook!

Aug 12 2009

Praying for the future of youth

By the CFCA Prayer Team

Maykel of Nicaragua hopes to be an entrepreneur someday. In India, Rosy dreams of being a police officer. Industrial engineering is the path to which Edwin in Bolivia is called.

Many teens and young adults are partnering with CFCA sponsors to achieve their dreams and change the world for the better. As we celebrate International Youth Day on Aug. 12, let us recognize those young people who soon will be taking the reigns of adulthood and leading the world to a brighter future.

For a glimpse of those students with whom we are partnering in this endeavor, go to www.walkwiththepoor.org. Read their stories and pray with us that they achieve their goals.

Please pray:
Gracious God, you see your children growing up in an unsteady and confusing world. Show them that your ways give more life than the ways of the world. Help them to accept setbacks, not as a measure of their worth, but as a chance for a new start. Give them strength to maintain their faith in you and keep alive their joy in your creation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


CFCA Prayer Team

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