Nov 24 2008

Bob’s report: Visit to India

Mission awareness trip†
Nov. 5-18, 2008

Societyís forgotten experience ëbeautiful transformationí

ìThey are the leftovers of society, but we are moving them to center stage. We want them to be fully human and fully alive.î óSuresh Singareddy, project coordinator, Hyderabad, India

An extra bonus on this trip is the chance to meet for the first time our new sponsored girl in the Hyderabad project. From an hour away in the countryside, 6-year-old Archana came on motorcycle with her mother and father.†

Suresh told the sponsors: ìThe government calculates that we have approximately 55 million child laborers in India. Yet at CFCA we get to see the beautiful transformation in children and families.î†

Early Christmas for former child laborers

During visits to subprojects, sponsors handed out Christmas presents for the families in attendance. Of special impact for the sponsors were the 100 or so sponsored girls living at the Divine Word Home. Just a short time ago, they were the throwaway children, the rag pickers in the garbage dumps of Hyderabad but now they attend a prestigious English medium school.

ìWe promise you that we will remember you,î Veronica told our group. ìYou always will be in our prayers, and we will make good use of this precious chance you are giving us so that we will be able to help others as you help us today.î

mothersgroup

We attended the huge 2008 Annual Day Gathering on Nov. 9, with an estimated attendance of more than 7,000 mothers. I told the mothers theyóand posthumously Father Francis Thumma, former project coordinatoróare the recipients of the 2008 Pilgrimage of Faith Award from CFCA.

Remembering Mother Teresa, Jerry Tolle

In Calcutta, we celebrated Holy Mass, at the tomb of Mother Teresa. The Missionaries of Charity invited us to visit their compound, including the simple room where Mother slept, prayed, wrote, counseled and rested. Later, as we crossed the famous Howrah Bridge, I could not help but remember co-founder Jerry Tolle and the first time he and I walked across that bridge at night, toting our luggage.†

ëMy experience in a mothers groupí

One mother, Stella, tells us she didnít go far in school but gained confidence acting as a secretary, speaking and working in the CFCA mothers groups. A loan let her buy a cultivation pump and subsequent farm profits allowed her to buy chicks.

ìI feel proud of being a member of mothers group,î she said. ìCFCA is life-giving, for it gives life to me, to my family, to my village and to our nation.î

ëNow he is my soní

At one stop, sponsor Natalie Frederickson told the audience, ìI came to India as his sponsor, but now he is my son and his family is my family. This week has been the best week of my life. Öî

Childrenís Day in India

In New Dehli Nov. 5 at subproject Salaam Baalak Trust, we learned that these children are becoming successful as computer programmers, photographers, actors, city guides, tailors and apprentices in various trades. All the children who spoke spontaneously mentioned that they wanted to become professionals and help other street children.

christinareiss

Sponsor Christina Reiss, her sponsored girl Deepa (front left) and her family demonstrate the deep joy of sponsorship.

Realities in India

Parents living in poverty are often forced to send their children to work in the fields or in factories to supplement the income of the family. More than half of the children in India complete less than five years of schooling. One of the uses of CFCA funds is to provide these intelligent and talented children a chance to experience the joy of education.

Mothers of sponsored children are taking leadership roles to help their families and communities.†More than 250 mothers groups and 8,000 members help manage and operate CFCA programs in Hyderabad and outlying areas. Mothers groups join with social workers to assess needs and design benefits. Besides giving mothers a voice in the sponsorship program, the groups help raise the status of women in their communities. Savings plans and low-cost loans fund small business startups and meet critical family needs.

Our gratitude and prayers go out to you.

Bob Hentzen

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