Mission awareness trip to Costa Rica
Nov. 7-14, 2009
CFCA has been working to build hope for families in Costa Rica since 1991 and as of November 2009, we have 6,099 children sponsored together with 436 aging. Currently, 716 children and aging are on the waiting list for sponsorship in Costa Rica.
According to staff, there is a very high index of domestic violence in Costa Rica, including abuse of women and children. The country has excellent medical care but itís heavily concentrated in the capital. Many rural areas have big challenges with dysentery and typhoid fever. In addition, residents here face a high cost of living and marginalization of immigrants.
Sunday, Nov. 8óAlajuelaóSubproject Sabanilla
On Sunday, we visited Sabanilla. A strong earthquake in January 2009 destroyed crops and forced businesses to close. One year ago, CFCA began to support this community.
The trip through the coffee plantation was very pleasant. However, we ran into a terrific storm that made the path down the mountain very muddy and slippery. It became a great exercise in community, getting everyone down the mountain safely. We all survived, albeit wet and muddy.
Down the road in the community of Los Angeles, we enjoyed a wonderful lunch and show with all the families in this region. The mothers worked all day yesterday and from 3 a.m. to prepare all the food and the hall for this special occasion.
Monday, Nov. 9ó La Esperanza, Limon
In the bus as we left San Jose, we reflected on St. Matthew 25: “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.î This text is pivotal to the mission of CFCA. We want to walk with, to be close to those who are exploited and marginalized. Walking with them, we want to express that God loves them, that they are taken into account, that they matter, that there is hope in their lives.
Subproject Limon is located on the Atlantic coast of Costa Rica. CFCA serves in different communities in this area: Punta de Lanza and Namaldi, Colonia Puriscalena, San Miguel and La Esperanza. The indigenous people (Cabecar Ethnic Group) work the land and sell banana leaves to wrap tamales. They are paid very little for their work: 15 cents for 2.2 pounds of banana leaves. They live off the main road. Flooding of rivers is one of the challenges in this area and CFCA social workers walk four to five hours to reach the homes of the indigenous sponsored. The presence of CFCA in this community encourages the families to keep moving forward in hope.
Tuesday, Nov. 10óLos Chiles
Los Chiles is a rural area where cattle, oranges and pineapples are raised next to the border with Nicaragua. The harvests last for the first four months of the year, and it is very difficult to find work the rest of the year. The majority of CFCA mothers are sole heads of families. They scratch out an existence for their children by doing laundry and ironing in the neighborhoods. The CFCA presence here has been vital. They have received important help to send their children to school. We have been working with the campesino families to improve their bean harvest. CFCA buys part of the harvest and uses it for CFCA families in the villages.
Our first gathering was at our usual spot under the large Guanacaste tree. Sponsored mother Gabriela sang several of her inspiring songs, first with a group of four children and later with her 6-year-old son, Andres. Gabriela and Andres will be featured in our concerts during the walk in Costa Rica.
During our family visits through the rain, the strength and heroism of mothers shone. Every home was inspired and managed by a single mother or grandmother.
Maleku indigenous group
CFCA serves 242 sponsored children and 13 aging in Project Guatuso where the indigenous Maleku people live. Many of the sponsored children walk three miles one way to attend school and three miles back home.
It seemed like all of the sponsored families were present. The gathering place and community center in each indigenous community is called the Palenque. We were treated to a guided tour through the forest, trying out medicinal plants, and the guide captured a tiny red frog said to be poisonous. A cultural performance was given in one of the palenques (drumming, dancing, a symbolic hand-to-hand battle to become chief). On foot, we crossed the river twice over sagging plank bridges. Then our empty bus crossed over slowly. We then enjoyed a gathering of nearly all the families. Rafael led the children in singing with his own version of yippiÖyai..yaiÖyippy, yippi yeyÖsung to the tune of ìSheíll be cominí round the mountain.î
Thursday, Nov. 12
Entire day of sharing with sponsored children, families and staff.
The focus this day was on Hope for a Family and Walk2gether. This new walk will be a living symbol of CFCAís commitment to uphold the dignity of our families. It will also encourage the union of countries, races, genders and creeds. We want to offer to our families a sense of identity and belonging Ö and a feeling of hope for the future.
The journey forward
Cristina continues to serve in Central America, as I go on to Zamboanga in the Philippines. Please keep us in prayer.