Tag: Costa Rica

May 6 2011

CFCA in Costa Rica learns from mothers group experience

Costa Rica mothers groups

John Arias Madriz, member of the CFCA-Costa Rica team, center, leads a prayer in the mothers group in a community served by the Santa Ana project during a training trip to El Salvador.

Mother’s Day is May 8. We believe in the wisdom of mothers and work to provide opportunities for mothers to use their wisdom for the good of their children and families.

In the past year, CFCA in Costa Rica has been exploring mothers groups as a vehicle to encourage the participation of mothers of sponsored children.

“Our mothers come from difficult realities,î said Rafael Villalobos, the Costa Rica coordinator. ìMost are single mothers and live in violent environments. Our primary goal is to create groups where the mothers identify with each other, learn to solve their problems and live with peace and solidarity.î

Earlier this year, staff members from the Costa Rica visited CFCA communities in El Salvador to learn from Salvadoran mothers groups.

“During our visit to El Salvador, we saw how women are empowered,” Villalobos said. “They have voice and vote in the decisions made in CFCA. This is important because mothers are no longer just recipients of benefits. They are building their childrenís future.”

Since they began in 2001 in Hyderabad, India, CFCA mothers groups have evolved and spread to other parts of the CFCA world. They were introduced two years ago in El Salvador.

“We see a bigger sense of belonging to CFCA among mothers of sponsored children who are part of our mothers groups,” said Yessenia Alfaro, CFCA coordinator in El Salvador.

“This model has enabled the mothers to be active participants in building a better future for their children, and to discover their hidden talents and put them to the service of their own community.”

The CFCA mothers group is a community self-help group that offers mothers of sponsored children an opportunity to organize themselves and participate in the planning and decision making of CFCA benefits and activities.

Mothers in Hyderabad now have choices about their childrenís benefits, and microfinance programs offered by the groups provide access to loans for small business startups, college tuition or emergency expenses.

The visit to El Salvador has allowed the Costa Rica team to see the potential of mothers groups as a tool for families to build a path to self-sufficiency.

“We returned home and shared the beauty and the value of mothers becoming the leaders of their sponsorship program, their communities and their childrenís pathway in life,” Villalobos said.

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May 4 2011

CFCA staff worker honors colleagues in Costa Rica

Jessie Leader-Kirk works in the child services department at CFCA’s headquarters in Kansas City. She recently went on a mission awareness trip to Costa Rica.

I had the privilege of spending a week with the staff of CFCA in Costa Rica. I never thought I would gain as much as I did from this experience.

My first encounter with the staff was at the airport in Costa Rica. This was my first time traveling internationally, and I did not know what to expect.

Jessie in Costa Rica

From left are Santiago, Jessie Leader-Kirk and Vanessa during Jessie’s mission awareness trip to Costa Rica. Santiago and Vanessa are sponsored through CFCA.

When I walked out of the airport Javier and Emmanuel were there to greet me, and a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. I felt safe!

The next morning I met the rest of the staff and started my adventure in Costa Rica.

I was impressed by the staff’s organization. Everyone had their role and knew it well.

The effort behind the scenes was amazing. We left to visit to a community where sponsored members live.

As we pulled into the community the sponsored members were there to meet us. Maureen and Jackeline did a wonderful job translating for the sponsors that did not speak Spanish.

As all the sponsors were greeted by the sponsored members, the staff was hustling to have everything set up for the sponsors. As the sponsors made it to their destination, Jean Carlo had a sound system set up and Ellie the translator was there to greet us.

Ellie from Costa Rica

Ellie the translator speaks to sponsors during the mission awareness trip.

As time went by, I met more and more staff members. Two staff members shared their personal experiences with me.

Luis, one of the social workers, shared that his life has been threatened on more than one occasion. Could you imagine working with the fear that your life could be taken at any moment?

Leticia, another social worker, said one day while she was walking to visit one of the sponsored members, a lady walked up to her and said, ìI like your shoes.î

Right after the lady said that, someone else walked up behind her and pressed something in her back.

Leticia said that she never turned around to see what it was, but just started praying and kept walking until the lady left her alone and she was safe.

After hearing these experiences I looked at the social workers in a different light. I admire their strength and dedication to the sponsored members.

The love for the children really stood out among all the staff. It was especially heartwarming to watch Rafael Villalobos, project coordinator in San Jose, and his interaction with the children.

You could tell that each child had a special relationship with the staff members in their area.

I was able to gain perspective on the great work CFCA does, and I was also able to gain an unspeakable amount of respect for the staff in Costa Rica.

The staff members in Costa Rica face many more challenges in their daily work life than I could ever imagine facing. I have never been around more inspiring people.

Words cannot express my gratitude and respect for my coworkers in the field. Thank you for the life-changing experience you gave me.

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Feb 9 2011

‘I never felt so loved and appreciated in my life': A sponsor’s trip to Costa Rica

Georgina Hartwell sent us this evaluation after she and her husband, Henry, went on a mission awareness trip to Costa Rica. While there they visited Steven, their sponsored friend. We are sharing this evaluation with their permission.

Steven's family

From left are Georgina; Steven, the Hartwells’ sponsored friend; Steven’s sister, Noelia; Steven’s mother, Jolane; and Henry.

Did you find that the orientation and information provided by the CFCA project staff during the trip adequately described the host country and CFCA’s work there?

Yes.

Would you recommend a CFCA mission awareness trip to others?

Yes.

Why or why not?

It was up close and personal. We saw our money at work.

Please describe your impressions of the trip and how the trip affected you personally.

I cried a lot. I never felt so loved and appreciated in my life (I’m 68). It was more than I expected. I guess I thought we would view much from afar. We did not. We were so very much “with the people.”

Also, on the trip we celebrated our 47th anniversary. The women of Desamparados surprised us with a beautiful, huge, delicious cake ñ enough to share with all!

Hartwells' anniversary cake

The Hartwells’ anniversary cake.

Any additional comments or suggestions?

The week was packed full of activities but I never felt pressured with a time schedule. Yes, there was a schedule but the staff and our wonderful driver, Carlos, always managed to be a bit flexible with a smile!

God bless all aspects and people of CFCA. With the five enclosed brochures you sent us, I will do my best to get five new sponsors.

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Jan 4 2011

A letter to the Walk2gether camper

Here is a tongue-in-cheek post from Rafael Villalobos, CFCA project coordinator in San Jose, Costa Rica. Rafa joined CFCA President and Co-founder Bob Hentzen on Walk2gether and made friends with the iconic Walk2gether camper, a vehicle that has accompanied Bob since the walk began. The camper is with Bob right now in Peru.

Hello, dear friend camper:

I remember the first time I saw your picture. You looked good. Don Roberto (Bob) told me, ìItís old, like me, but it still runs.î

Walk2gether camper

CFCA Walk2gether camper.

They told us your name: Walk2gether Camper.

We waited for you happily. I fondly remember March 1, when you arrived in Costa Rica together with the walkers. Everyone watched you with respect.

You came loaded with luggage, lots of water, tools, spare tire, food, kitchen supplies, clothes for the walkers, medicine, electric generator, etc.

You looked tired and beaten, but in your lights, I noticed an immense joy.

With your flashers, you animated the children and sang with us, ìWhile walking, borders disappear. We become of one land, one cry for justice, and we blend together like the land blends when we make footprints while we walk. We join dignity and hope in one flag Ö Latin America.î

You drove thousands of miles on your tires. The logos and banners you wore indicated you were not simply a camper. ì12,500 kilometers bringing hope.î

You were like Noahís Ark, crossing oceans to bring hope and blessings to all the villages.

I remember one rainy afternoon when you shared what it means to be part of CFCA: Read more about the Walk2gether camper

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Dec 30 2010

Family stands strong while mother is away

When Kenia was 14, her mother moved to Costa Rica with Keniaís oldest brother to find work and left Kenia and two brothers behind. For the past two years, Kenia has been raised by her brother, Juan Carlos. Kenia and Juan Carlos are sponsored through CFCAís Hope for a Family program. Kenia talks about how the separation has affected her and her family.

How did you feel when your mother and older brother left Nicaragua for Costa Rica?

It was very sad and very difficult. But because of the country’s economic situation, they were forced to leave.

How do you feel now?

I have had to get used to it since, even though she is far away from us, she calls us always and is always waiting for us to call. It is very difficult, but life is like that. One never thinks that these things could happen.

Raul, Juan Carlos, and Kenia

From left are Raul, Juan Carlos and Kenia.

Do you miss your mother?

Yes, because she has been a very good mother, a fighter, who in spite of all that has happened, has always fought for her children’s well-being.

I always imagine that the New Year or some other vacation period is coming so that she can return and we can be together again.

Do you have family to care for you, or only Juan Carlos?

Yes, thank God that besides my brothers, Raul and Carlos, some people will give me support and strength to carry on. They are not relatives but it is as though they were. They are always watching out for me, and I am very grateful. They are the couple who are pastors of the church that I attend.

How do you help your brother at home?

We will help each other, whether with household chores, which we divide among ourselves, or with our studies with which my brother Carlos helps me as I help my younger brother Raul. So we have learned that despite things that happen, love and the unifying element of family always prevail.

Where do you go to school?

I study at an institute about four blocks from my house. I am in the fourth year of secondary school, which is a little difficult for me, but with some effort I will make headway because our lives are like a race in which you have to struggle to win the prize.

What do you want to be in your life?

God willing, next year I will graduate from secondary school. At first I wanted to study to be a teacher, but also to be a nurse, and I have decided to study nursing.

What are your dreams and hopes?

To see myself fulfilled, to obtain a professional career, work and help my mother and little brother, since my mother has been that source of strength in those moments when I feel that I cannot continue. I remember what she does for me and I continue on.

Other wishes are to have the opportunity of knowing different countries, to mix well with people and to have new friends.

Read the story about Kenia’s brother, Juan Carlos.

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Dec 6 2010

Costa Rican community battles heavy rains

On Nov. 8, we posted this news story about a storm that caused flooding and landslides in Costa Rica. Rafael Villalobos, CFCA project coordinator in San Jose, Costa Rica, sent us this update. Please keep the CFCA families affected by the heavy rains in your prayers.

The Jazmin community is home to Nicaraguan immigrants and Costa Rican migrants from rural areas of the country.

This is an agricultural area settled by various families who arrived seeking better opportunities in life. Nevertheless, the vast majority do not have stable work.

They have constructed humble homes with wood and old tin cans. For water, they must walk to a community tap. A community meter supplies electricity for everyone. Each family has to pay about $50 a month for electricity.

House endangered by rain

A Costa Rican house is endangered by the erosion from heavy rains.

Because of heavy rains in the past weeks, the ground has eroded considerably to the point where these families are in great danger. Many of their homes have collapsed into the ravine. Due to the solidarity among neighbors, several families are living in the same house.

Six families are currently staying in the community center.

The downpours in recent days has washed out the ground to the point where the land is split in two, isolating the families.

DoÒa Rosa, the mother of sponsored children and a great supporter of CFCA, has lost a large part of her home.

ìThe only part that remains is the small room built with the help of CFCA. I donít know what will happen to us,” she said. “The officials have asked us to leave this place because it is very dangerous, because a landslide could occur at any moment. But where will we go?î

In the midst of this pain, she remains hopeful.

ìGod will not abandon us,î she said. ìHe is with us and he has sent his angels in the face of CFCA, who are with us giving us encouragement and hope.î

Seventy families with sponsored members live in Jazmin. Nearby is the community of Tejarcillos, which has also been affected by the heavy rains.

With Christmas approaching, these situations bring to mind the birth of the child Jesus in the midst of extreme circumstances, similar to what these families are experiencing.

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Oct 28 2010

Before and after: How sponsorship transformed one childís life

By Shanxi Omoniyi, CFCA web editor and writer

Milton and Lila Krainbill

Milton and Lila Krainbill

Many of us at the CFCA office in Kansas City know Milton and Lila Krainbill, and those who donít will learn pretty quickly.

Theyíre longtime sponsors and volunteers in Holton, Kan., who serve a delicious lunch to all the Kansas City staff once a year. With the employee head count at just over 130, thatís no easy feat.

But even more amazing are the Krainbillsí pictures showing the progress of their sponsored child, Heidy, in Costa Rica.

Milton and Lila took a vacation to Costa Rica in 2003, and they asked to tour the San Jose project there.

From the moment they met Heidy and her family, the Krainbills knew they couldnít lose contact with this little girl. She was one of eight children in a family struggling to overcome poverty.

The familyís galvanized tin house had gaping holes in the siding that let in rainwater. The children slept on pallets instead of beds.

ìWhen we saw the situation, we just couldnít walk away without taking on another sponsorship,î Lila said.

Seven years later, Milton and Lila returned to find a transformed family.

Read more about Heidy’s changed life

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