By Jeri Blanch, CFCA sponsor
Last year I had the privilege of going on a mission awareness trip to El Salvador to visit my sponsored children. One of the communities we visited was La Realidad, which had grown up around the town dump. The people ate scraps of food and used items from the dump. Their houses were made of cardboard. In order to find any type of employment, the parents had to leave the area to work. That meant that the children were left unattended during the day. School attendance was basically non-existent. Crime, including violent crime and murder, was rampant. The people lived without hope in the most abject poverty.
The turning point came about seven years ago when CFCA started working there. Food was provided to the families of sponsored children. The children started going to school and were required to attend extra tutoring classes after school. A soccer team was formed. Sheet-metal housing replaced the cardboard. As money became available, the sheet-metal houses were replaced by more substantial cinder-block homes, one family at a time.
When we were there last year, CFCA and the parents were getting ready to embark on a new venture. The mothers wanted to be able to work within their own community so they could look after their own children, as well as become financially self-sufficient. It was decided that learning to sew would be a way to accomplish both goals. CFCA was going to purchase the sewing machines and the first batch of material and provide someone to train them. After that, the women would purchase additional material with the profits earned from the sale of their finished products.
This year, I returned to El Salvador on a mission awareness trip. We went back to the community of La Realidad, so I had the opportunity to see the progress that has been made there. The women have been trained to make bedsheets, purses, hats, pillows and other similar items. They have the sewing machines in their homes, so even the mothers with very small children are able to both work and tend to their children. As a group, they set their own monthly goals, which they have consistently met. A certain amount of the money they earn is placed in a savings account, and they are taught how to most effectively manage their money.
Each of the women in turn stood up and told us what this project means to them. They are excited not just about what they have accomplished so far, but they are very excited about the future, both for themselves and for their children. They are looking forward to learning how to make school uniforms and other articles of clothing. The one father who has decided to participate wants to specialize in tailoring. They are hoping for an expanded market for their finished products and are thinking about ways to accomplish that.
In the community of La Realidad, which translates as “The Reality” in English, the dreams of the sponsored families are indeed becoming the reality, thanks to CFCA.