May 30 2012

Sponsored children welcome sponsor on visit to Colombia

By Harrison Garcia Ruiz, CFCA communications liaison in Colombia

CFCA sponsor Margarita with Santiago's family in Colombia

Santiago’s family in Colombia and Santiago’s sponsor, Margarita Torres.

For sponsored children, meeting their sponsors is a dream come true.

Margarita Torres was planning to go to Colombia recently to visit family.

Before she left, she worked with the CFCA office in Kansas to coordinate an individual sponsor visit with her sponsored child, Santiago.

“It was very emotional to meet Santiago and his family,” she said. “To meet him personally was really nice and knowing more about his daily tasks at school, what he likes, how is his relationship with his family, etc.”

The visit also encouraged Santiago to continue his studies and make plans to achieve his life goals.

Margarita reminded Santiago that a good education is the key to having a successful future. She encouraged him to always be close to God.

Editor’s note: CFCA offers the opportunity to coordinate individual sponsor visits for sponsors who cannot go on mission awareness trips to meet their sponsored friend.

More than 550 travelers went on individual sponsor visits, just in 2011!

We prefer 90 days notice but need a minimum of at least 30 days to arrange a visit, so we can determine whether the family and staff are available.

If you’re interested in such a visit, please contact our Sponsor Services team at (800) 875-6564 or mail@cfcausa.org.

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May 25 2012

Colombian mother to sponsors: ‘You represent hope for our families’

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“Bob’s notes” are reports from CFCA President Bob Hentzen, who regularly accompanies mission awareness trip participants. You can see Bobís full update on his Facebook page.

From the northern border with Venezuela to the southern border with Ecuador, we’ve walked every kilometer of Colombia, this wonderful country.

(Editor’s note: This is a reference to Walk2gether, the nearly 8,000-mile solidarity walk that Bob and CFCA staffers undertook through 12 Latin American countries. The walk lasted from December 2009 to June 2011.)

I remain deeply grateful for all the blessings, prayers and solidarity.

CFCA in Colombia

Colombia is special to me and to my family. I first landed here in 1960 as a Christian Brother missionary teacher.

I was assigned to Colegio La Salle, Cartagena. I have many wonderful memories of my students and fellow teachers at La Salle.

Since Cristina and I sponsored the first CFCA child, Florelia Delgado (in the CFCA project in Bogota), CFCA in Colombia has grown to include 19,349 children and 2,179 elderly friends.

In addition, we currently have 1,552 Colombian children on our waiting list for sponsorship.

Our CFCA family in Colombia includes five major projects (Antioquia, Bogota, Cartagena, Cali and Quibdo).

All staff members at our Antioquia project (together with a few spouses and babies) were on hand to welcome the sponsors at the CFCA central office in Medellin. Read more

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May 3 2012

CFCA Communications Centers: Bogota, Colombia

CFCA has five communications centers in El Salvador, Guatemala, Kenya, India and Colombia.

Although we call them centers, which sound like a big operation, they actually consist of one or a few local staff members. They help us find and feature stories from our sponsored children and aging friends.

Harry Garcia, CFCA communications liaison in Colombia

Harrison Garcia

We’d like to introduce you to each communications center liaison, starting with Harry in Colombia.

CFCA has changed the life of many families. This is how CFCA changed my life as well as my family’s.

My name is Harrison Garcia, and I am 27 years old. I am the CFCA communication center liaison in Bogota, Colombia.

The story of my family at CFCA started when my sister Carolina, now 35, got sponsored in our little school 27 years ago.

The benefits that she received through CFCA at that time were a great help to my family as my mother was a single mother with three children.

When I was 10, I got sponsored, too, and it was a great experience for me to share letters with my sponsors during three years. Read more of Harry’s story

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Apr 16 2012

Celebrating Mass: Sponsored friends in Colombia

What are Mass customs and traditions around the world? In this blog post, CFCA explores how sponsored children, youth and aging friends who practice the Catholic faith in Colombia celebrate Mass. Thanks to Harrison Garcia Ruiz, our communications liaison in Colombia, for contributing to this article.

Mass customs in Colombia

Leidy, a child sponsored through CFCA, and her mother pray at Mass in Colombia.

The majority of the families in the CFCA Hope for a Family program in Colombia are Catholic, and they participate actively during Mass.

Boys and girls attend Mass with their families, and they sit down and they listen to God’s Word and the priest’s reflection. The Mass usually lasts for an hour, sometimes 90 minutes.

Leidy is a child sponsored through CFCA for three years. She likes to attend the Mass with her mother, father and little brother Daniel.

“We attend the Mass on Sundays, and we sit down and listen to the priest,” she said. “My favorite part of the Mass is during the sign of peace because we shake hands and we hug each other. It is a happy moment.

“Also, I like the music during the Eucharist. My favorite song is ‘Glory Hallelujah.’ It is a happy song. …

“I pray with my mother and my family, and we pray to God for our needs and I pray to do well at school. I like to talk with God, and I ask God for our health.” Read more

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Mar 29 2012

Diego in Colombia gets his bicycle

Earlier this month we featured Diego, a sponsored child who walked 80 minutes to school in Colombia ñ and that was just one way!

Our CFCA colleagues in Bogota ñ Harrison Garcia Ruiz, our communications liaison, and Judith Bautista, project coordinator ñ worked on getting a bicycle for Diego so he wouldn’t have to walk such a great distance.

Harrison was there as Diego went with his mother to pick out a new bike. These pictures, along with quotes from Diego, tell the whole story beautifully.

In Diego’s words

Having a bicycle to me was a very difficult dream to reach. My family does not have the resources to buy a bicycle for me.

One day CFCA staff members came to my house to interview me and to ask me about my life and how I get my education.

I told them about the long distance that I have to walk to get to school.

Diego, sponsored child, walking to school

My mother told me later that CFCA staffers called her, and she told me that the CFCA office wanted to buy a bike to me so I could have a better situation in life.

Diego in Colombia with mother

I could not believe it at first, but I thank God for having that visit from CFCA’s staff and to be able to tell them my story, and in this way I could go to choose my bike with my mother. Read more and see the pictures

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Mar 22 2012

CFCA helps families in Colombia recover after flooding

Flooding in Cali, Colombia

Scenes after flooding in a community served by CFCA's project in Cali, Colombia.

Heavy rains in a community served by CFCA’s project in Cali, Colombia, caused a river to overflow in January, causing major damage to the homes of 17 sponsored friends and their families.

Many people from this community were evacuated after the Cauca River flooded. The river crosses more than 40 percent of the community and is the main source of income for residents.

Families in the CFCA sponsorship program often earn a living by extracting river sand for construction. That has not been possible since the heavy rains.

As part of CFCA’s outreach to those affected, staff members visited families in the sponsorship program who live in the affected areas as well as in shelters.

They also helped coordinate efforts with local authorities to rescue some of the families’ possessions and provide food and other items according to their needs.

Here are the thoughts and perspectives from two parents of sponsored children.

Carlos’ story

I was at home when the river began to rise. I had to go to work.

I warned my family about the situation and asked if it kept rising to call me. At 3 p.m. I came back from work; the river was already inside my house, so I put up all the equipment, jars and other utensils over bricks so they wouldn’t get wet.

I told my wife and children to go to a shelter elsewhere and I would stay at home, but none of them wanted to leave. Read more

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Mar 5 2012

Sponsored child goes the distance for school (80-minute walk)

By Harrison Garcia Ruiz, CFCA communication center liaison in Bogota, Colombia

Diego, CFCA sponsored child in Colombia, walking to school

Diego, a child sponsored through CFCA in Colombia, walks 80 minutes one way to go to school.

Many children in the rural areas of Colombia have to walk long distances to get their education.

One example is Diego, 13, sponsored through CFCA. He must walk an hour and 20 minutes one way to attend school in a town outside Bogota.

Every morning Diego wakes up at 4:30 a.m. He takes a shower, dresses in his school uniform, eats breakfast and starts walking at 5:30 a.m.

He starts classes at 7 a.m. and finishes at 1 p.m. Sometimes he walks all the way back home, but occasionally his mother has the money to give him to take a bus to come back home from school.

Even when Diego takes the bus, he needs to walk 30 minutes to get to his house. Read more of Diego’s story

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