Dec 20 2011

Small groups help CFCA adapt to a changing world

A small-group model is making big changes in the lives of families around the world.

CFCA small group models in Kenya

CFCA staff member Lillian Naka, standing, conducts training with a mothers group in Nairobi, Kenya.

Implemented more than 10 years ago in India and the Philippines, the small-group model gives parents and guardians of sponsored children more ability to shape the CFCA Hope for a Family program in their areas.

“We are finding it’s easier for the families to have a voice when they are organized in small groups,” said Dan Pearson, director of international programs. “It’s hard for us to listen to 300,000 families, but with small groups, the families take the lead, the project can follow them and we can follow the project.”

The small-group model (also called community-based groups, self-help groups and mothers groups) empowers individual group members and encourages interaction and mutual support among families.

“It’s important for sponsors to know that when a child becomes sponsored, in addition to the supportive distance relationship with the sponsor, the child and family are drawn into a real community that impacts them on a daily basis,” Pearson said.

The decentralized structure also allows CFCA headquarters in Kansas and the project to respond to families’ needs more efficiently.

“The world is changing too fast for an organization of our size to wait for the direction to come from one place in Kansas,” Pearson said. “This structure allows CFCA to experiment and adapt all over the world. That’s the only way we’re going to be resilient and to keep up with the changes in our world.”

The following stories illustrate how the small-group model has been adapted to the needs of three communities:

Stage 1 ñ Building trust in Bogota, Colombia

In this stage of small-group development, group formation begins. Members build trust and self-esteem, learn roles and responsibilities, elect officials, assume responsibility for birthday and Christmas parties, letter writing, photos and other aspects of the CFCA sponsorship program.

Stage 2 ñ Mutual support in Nairobi, Kenya

In this stage of small-group development, group members open bank accounts, complete documentation and begin individual savings accounts. CFCA then matches their individual contributions. The Nairobi project has gone well beyond this stage and is now well into stage 3.

Stage 3 ñ Community life in Antipolo, Philippines

In this stage of small-group development, there is full integration of Hope for a Family values with sponsored friends and their families. Loan application training, entrepreneurship and skills training, individual loan program, annual reports, disbursement of dividends and larger loans for extended terms are implemented. In addition, experienced families train and mentor new groups.

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