Sep 17 2012

Former scholar in El Salvador now works for CFCA

We can’t say enough good things about our co-workers in the field! They are often the first face of CFCA that our sponsored children and aging friends see.

Jenny Cruz, CFCA staffer in El Salvador

Jenny Cruz, CFCA staffer in El Salvador.

We especially wanted to share Jenny’s story. She started working for CFCA-El Salvador in March 2003.

This is what her colleague, Naresli Calito, says about her: “All families in the sponsorship program and CFCA staff members know her name. She is very responsible and an honest leader in her work area. She knows her potential and she gives her best at work.”

When did you first hear about CFCA?

A [CFCA] social worker came to my house and said, “We want to find sponsors for these two children,” and they were my brother Melvin and my sister Alba.

After they were sponsored, [CFCA] offered me a scholarship in 2001. I remained a scholar until my high school graduation.

How was the experience as a CFCA scholar?

It was a learning experience. Through my community service at the project, I learned everything about the social workers’ job and thanks to that, after I graduated from high school, CFCA offered me a part-time job.

I worked side by side with social workers. They told me, “A number of mothers and their sponsored children will come; you will supervise their letter writing.”

Almost 100 children would make a line for me to review their letters!

We would also go and work with other communities. We filled out profiles of children and elderly waiting to be sponsored.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a community in Santa Ana. I lived there for 26 years.

Can you describe your home?

It looks the same as when I was 16. My house was made of adobe covered with cement and metal sheets. There was a living room and one bedroom.

Now the house has an extra bedroom, made with the help of my brother’s sponsors, and another bedroom that I built with my salary.

I didn’t have a playful childhood; it was more about helping my family. All my four siblings were younger than me, so I helped take care of them.

I also helped sell different things on the streets. I used to help selling pastelitos (fried corn pastries) because my mom made them.

Whom did you live with while little?

I lived with my mom and siblings. My grandmother also took care of me, and sometimes an aunt.

My siblings’ names are Melvin, Mauricio, Alba, and Judith.

Can you tell us more about your younger brother, Melvin?

He is attending school in San Salvador. He is a young athlete. He plays basketball in a wheelchair.

Melvin was born with a condition in which the spinal cord doesn’t completely close before birth.

There is an opening between the bones of the spine, which makes the spinal cord bulge out, and that caused paralysis in his legs. When he was 3 days old, he received surgery to try to close the opening.

He can move from the waist up.

Was it hard for your mother to care for Melvin?

Yes, since he was a child my mom took him to hospitals and rehabilitation centers. The school is a block from our house, so she and sometimes his friends took him to school in a wheelchair.

It was complicated for my mother, but she always was there for him. Thanks to my mother, he felt like a normal kid.

Now Melvin takes care of himself. He lives with other teenagers. That helps him be more independent.

How has CFCA helped you achieve your goals?

Thanks to the scholarship and job, I was able to pay for college. I study business administration and will graduate in March 2013.

I recently defended my thesis, which was about communications in non-governmental organizations, and CFCA was one of my examples.

Jenny, CFCA staffer, and mother of sponsored child in El Salvador

Melida, mother of a sponsored child in El Salvador, meets with former CFCA scholar and CFCA staffer Jenny Cruz.

You are the first in your family to have a college degree?

I have 12 cousins, and I was the first to attend college. Another cousin is now studying. Out of 12 cousins, just the two of us have college education.

What were the obstacles you had working and studying?

My main obstacle was the time. I would attend classes after work. I didn’t have transportation to take me directly to the university and had to take a bus, so I arrived at classes 30 minutes late.

Are there any words from your mother that served as motivation?

I remember clearly when I started to study at college, she said to me, “If I have to sell everything I have, I will, but you’re going to study.”

I’ll always remember her words.

How did you realize you wanted to work for CFCA?

As a scholar, I would offer my social service, but I would try to do more than required. I discovered that serving people and working with others made me desire to work here.

What do you like about working at CFCA?

The variety of things we do. We’re not always working in one place, doing the same thing every day, but every day there is something different, new and interesting.

How does it feel to help other families through CFCA?

There is plenty of personal growth every time we help someone. Helping a family gives us satisfaction; we try to cover families in need.

I feel that CFCA is also a work that helps us to be a better person with God. It is a rewarding job.

CFCA scholars in El Salvador
  • In 2012 there were more than 360 CFCA scholars in El Salvador.
  • Students use their scholarships to pay for expenses such as tuition and school fees, food, transportation and books. They can use the scholarship however it will best meet their needs.
  • Every year CFCA in El Salvador has a scholarship reunion where scholars meet and share their experiences.

What are your challenges?

I think one challenge is to be better every day in serving our families and communities, through good plans and organization. To work my best every day so they know we are giving the best of ourselves.

What are your goals?

Next year I’ll graduate. Get married at the end of this year and perhaps continue studying English.

Could you tell us more about getting married?

[She laughs] Yes, I have plans to get married in December. [She laughs again.] That’s all.

It is a challenge, too. I want to get married and have two children, but will wait about two years before our first baby.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

My mom’s passing has been something I’m trying to overcome. It has been difficult, but thanks to work I don’t think too much about it.

I always keep busy and see more difficult situations in other families. Here [in CFCA] you learn that sometimes your problems look smaller compared to others.

I believe that [CFCA] has been a mainstay for my family and me. Thanks to CFCA I have a job and we are in a better situation.

My sister is not sponsored anymore, but now she has her own family. My younger brother is sponsored and lives in San Salvador. He is trying to reach his goals.

Each of us is trying to move forward, although my mom couldn’t be with us.

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2 thoughts on “Former scholar in El Salvador now works for CFCA”

  1. Jenny — I want you to know that you have the admiration and prayers of this woman who put herself through college and had to rely on buses to get to class after work — but under much less trying circumstances. I wish you every success; education is worth the sacrifice.

  2. Jenny – Thank you for sharing your story. You are a great encouragement to all the scholars in El Salvador. Back in February you took my wife Mary and I to your community to meet our sponsored aging, Juana in her home. It’s was great to visit Juana in her home so we can experience a little bit of her life. Thank you for giving us that opportunity.

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