Mission awareness trip to Colombia
July 19-25, 2009
From the moment they emerge from the crowded exit doors of the Eldorado Airport in Bogota, sponsors are put at ease by the poise and talent of our young CFCA co-worker, Jamie Mora. Now in the middle of post-graduate studies (languages), Jamie handles several translating jobs, plus teaching, and is the main economic support of her family. Jamie leaves no doubt that the presence of the David Malka family, her loving sponsors for 15 years, and her CFCA Bogota family, has played a major role in her lifeís journey.
In Colombia, many peopleóespecially in the rural areasósuffer from malnutrition, poverty and insufficient education. Colombiaís biggest challenge continues to be the struggle against guerilla warfare, city gangs and illicit drug cartels. Most of the countryís wealth is concentrated in the hands of drug traffickers.
Public elementary education is tuition-free, and children are required to attend for five years. However, many children do not attend past age 7. Instead, they help their parents on the family farm. Parents also find it difficult to afford school supplies and various school fees. In remote areas, children may learn through radio broadcasts of school lessons.
CFCA has six projects in Colombia with 2,203 children and aging awaiting sponsors.
Judith Bautista, coordinator of the Bogota project gave us an overview of Colombia: 7,000-plus sponsored children; squatters searching for food in local markets; very young population; we have grandmothers who are 25 years old; educational system failing and 8th graders sometimes cannot read; overcrowdedóeven up to 70 in a classroom; in Bogota only 1 percent of students eventually find work in the field they studied; very serious problem of domestic violence; robbery is the most common crime of teenagers; children are set up by unscrupulous adults to commit crimes because of the impunity of their age.
Our solution to some of these challenges is the CFCA communities of compassion in the neighborhoods, the love of the staff for the families and the solidarity, love and power of our mothers groups.
Spirit of Sopo
I was impressed with the great community spirit among the CFCA families of Sopo. The main sources of income are the flower industry and farming, especially dairy. CFCA walks with 430 children and their families in this community.
Mothers are meeting twice a week, once for program activities in which they read the sponsorship manual piece by piece, the other for livelihood projects planning and execution. Today, they had organized a solidarity walk through the beautiful and green countryside and the trek took the better part of two hours with a marching band, four teens on stilts as giants and stops to welcome the next group of walkers.
Iím happy to report that members of this group sponsored five additional children during the week. Listen to these thoughts offered by sponsors on this trip:
ìI think of CFCA as my surrogate parents and grandparents, knowing they will instill the religious values in my child, along with the other values.î
ìI feel the Lord is calling me to go through a new door.î
ìTrust in God. I am learning to trust in othersÖespecially for love rather than having to go it alone.î
As Cristina and I head back to Guatemala via the scenic route through Lima and San Salvador, please join us in prayer and solidarity with our families in Honduras. We look forward now to seeing the groups from Holy Trinity Parish in Lenexa, Kan., and Risen Christ Parish from Denver, Colo., and then our next mission awareness trip to Guatemala on Aug.1.