Henry Flores, director of the CFCA communications center in El Salvador, recently traveled to our Kansas City office. During his stay he received training and also taught us about his work with our Salvadoran colleagues. This is the transcript of a speech he presented to the CFCA staff.
Note: The names of the individuals mentioned in this story have been changed to protect their identity and privacy.
It is 5 a.m.
Francisca, mother of a 2-year-old boy and a 7-month-old baby, is waiting for the early public transportation that will bring her from her humble community to the hospital for children in San Salvador, El Salvador’s capital.
While she waits on the road, a speeding truck crashes into her, killing her and her 2-year-old. The crash also leaves her baby highly injured.
The driver runs away, leaving behind his crashed truck.
To this date, no reports have been received from the local authorities about his identity or current location.
A few days later, the baby died at a public hospital.
Francisca was on her way to the hospital in San Salvador to try to get one space, along with hundreds of other mothers, just for her baby to see a doctor.
A TV news anchor on the 9:30 p.m. program reports that a little girl, a 10-year-old, has been sexually assaulted by her stepfather.
Neighbors whose identities were protected say the girl’s mother was afraid to report the crime because relatives of the girl’s stepfather had threatened the mother, saying they would kill her and her children if she went to the authorities.
The next day at our CFCA offices in Santa Ana, I am informed that the girl whom I saw on TV last night is sponsored by CFCA. Her name is Juanita.
What to do?
Two years ago Andrea, who was 11 at that time, was taken to an orphanage in the company of her 7-year-old sister.
Their 12-year-old brother was brought to a religious community. Their father was accused of molesting these children.
A few months ago, a new law for the protection of children and youth had been approved. The law said that children should and must be reunited with their parents for their best interest.
Andrea and her siblings were reunited with their mother and came back to live in their home. Unfortunately Andrea, now 13 years old, is pregnant after being sexually assaulted by her own father.
Andrea is a CFCA sponsored child.
This is the reality I come from. One that discourages you constantly, one that does not allow you to dream, one that makes you feel powerless.
This is the darkness I have to work in.
Families living in poverty fight heroically against tremendous odds such as impunity, corruption, lack of basic resources and many other challenges.
I have been asked, “Henry, what is it that you do in the communications center?”
I am in charge of finding the light in this darkness, to help our sponsored friends and their families shine because light is stronger than darkness.
I try to give voice to those who have no voice and share these beautiful examples of dignified lives with our sponsors and audiences.
My job is to bring hope to your eyes and ears through stories, videos, blog posts, news articles and pictures from families served by CFCA in Central and South America.
My job gives me the opportunity to help prove to Francisca, Juanita and Andrea that, in spite of the negativity they have to live through, that there is hope.
In fact, thousands of people in the CFCA community around the globe will give them a chance to overcome the obstacles of poverty and human boundaries.
Have you noticed how easy it is to lose a friend but how hard it is to find one?
At CFCA we strive to create friendship, a friendship based on mutual respect and support.
Just imagine ñ some of us are behind the computers programming, some are answering phone calls, some are scanning letters, others are in the field visiting families.
We all are contributing to create just one more friendship at a time.
Thank you all so much for doing this, for offering your God-given gifts to help those in both worlds we work with, to believe that not everything is wrong and negative.
Jorge, Efrain, Naresly and I do our part in the El Salvador communications center, finding stories to be published.
We also translate letters. In the past year, we translated over 100,000 letters, coming from 10 CFCA projects in Central and South America.
It is not easy, and no one said it was going to be. We are exposed, we are at risk, but finding that light in the darkness is worth the effort.
We are not alone. We have Regina in Africa, Sreekanth in India, Luis in Guatemala and Harry in Colombia. (All of these are other CFCA communications liaisons around the world.)
Together we work hard every day to find those stories of the beauty of our sponsored friends and their families, their brimming potential and their desire for a better future despite their realities.
I want to express my deepest gratitude for the opportunity to be part of this movement, for allowing me to help in the construction of true friendships around the world, for the opportunity to be here with you, my friends.
Oh, by the way, mothers of sponsored children, living in both communities where Juanita and Andrea live, convinced the mothers to go to the authorities.
At this moment there are warrants for their arrest and soon those guys will be brought to justice.
The CFCA project in Santa Ana is offering all necessary assistance to support the current reality Juanita and Andrea are going through.