Jul 29 2010

Going back to school at 74

Interview with Flor de Maria by Henry Flores

Flor de MariaMy name is Flor Maria. I am 74, and I live in Costa Rica.

My father died when I was 10, and my mother took care of me after that. She made sweets, and I sold them. I have 10 children. They live in different parts of the country. Some are married, others are divorced.

Itís difficult to be an aging person in Costa Rica. Our reality is hard. I have seen other elderly women begging in the street, even sleeping there. We aging have much potential. Look at me. I am able. My hands cook rice. I can make beans. I can scrub a floor from one side to the other, but clearly I canít do it all in one day. I have to do a little at a time: one part today, another tomorrow.

I was taking classes in handicrafts when I first met CFCA. I told the social workers about my life, and they said they could support me. They give so much help for those who need it. I suffer from many illnesses, and thanks to CFCA, I receive the medicines I need. As part of CFCA, one feels supported. One feels calmer. They even help me with my school supplies and other expenses.

Flor de Maria doing her homework.Returning to school:
I left school when I was 12, but thanks be to God, I returned to school and finished sixth grade at the age of 50. The situation was difficult. Nevertheless, I always wanted to study. I always wanted a degree as a lawyer to defend others.

When I was little, my school had few seats, teachers and everything else. It was very poor. At times, they taught sewing, and they didnít have the materials. They didnít have notebooks. So, I decided to leave school. When I was in school, I remembered doing homework before and after class.

Now, I have returned to school; only now I am 74, and it isnít easy. I remember on my first day of class, one of my daughters said, ìOh, no, Mother. Donít go to school.î I simply did not pay attention to her. I want to do what I want, and I want to learn, to study; to prepare myself.

Going back to school at my age is beautiful. I feel like any other student with a desire to learn and advance. Everyone knows that I have studied, and that I donít want to leave my studies unfinished. Some tell me to drop out of school, but I just ignore them.

School has helped me a lot. I am more alert because they say my neurons have awakened.

Many women attend my school, because they teach many subjects thereósewing, tailoring, etc. I donít have a favorite class because I believe that, for students, all material should be their favorites. I am taking six classes: Spanish, science, English, civics, mathematics and social studies.

Before my tests, I drink a glass of chamomile tea because they say itís good for the nerves. This calms me. I tell myself, ìDonít get nervous. Donít get nervous. God will take care of everything else.î

Flor writingSundays, when I go to school, I get up at 5 a.m. I prepare breakfast and lunch. Later, I grab my backpack with my notebooks, and I leave early since I start at 8 a.m.

In the afternoon, around 4 p.m., I go home. I drink a cup of coffee and rest. I do homework during the week. For example, today I have some homework in Spanish. I have to answer the following questions: Who am I? What do I want to be? I am not going to answer much. What I will write is: ìI am Flor de Maria. I am 74 years old. I want to be a lawyer. Granted, this isnít up to me. This is up to God.î

Florís words of wisdom
I want to say to the youth to take advantage of their time in school because it will lead them to better work and higher pay. Your studies will keep you on the good path and keep you away from vices. Donít lose your youth. Donít lose this moment because one day, you are going to want it back like I do now.

My message for the elderly is to study to keep your neurons working, so you donít get Alzheimers!

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Jun 30 2010

Francini’s joy is a letter from her sponsor

My name is Francini. I am 12 years old, and I live in in Costa Rica.

I usually get up at 6 a.m. I eat breakfast and, later in the morning, I help my mother with the house chores, especially sweeping and washing dishes.

Right now, I am in fifth grade, and my favorite subject is mathematics. I usually leave for school around noon. I walk for about 10 minutes to get to school. It is not far.

I have received some cards and letters from my sponsors, having them brings happiness and joy to my life, I am very happy to be sponsored by them and CFCA.

If my sponsors were here I would offer them my gratitude for everything that they have done and given me. They are very special.

Francini reads a letter from her sponsor

Francini reads a letter from her sponsor

Francini reads a letter from her sponsor

Have you ever wondered about the letters you receive from your friend? Read Dani Pollock’s blog post about the letter-writing process in Honduras where she is serving as a CFCA volunteer.

You can also learn more about Francini’s home life by visiting walk2gether.org.

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May 21 2010

A cathedral of hope

Jerlin Julieta, 17, from Costa Rica, is a senior in high school and a CFCA scholarship student. To fulfill the service component required of all CFCA scholarship recipients, Jerlin, who graduates this year, helps the project staff in several different areas. She accompanies social workers on home visits, and she helps with office work. She is the leader in her community, especially in activities related to the other scholarship students in the area. Together, they help with monthly meetings, celebrations, etc.

Rafa Villalobos, San Jose project coordinator, said that Jerlin means a lot to the project staff. They felt especially protective of her after her father died.

“In the midst of great difficulty, she has moved on, overcoming obstacles,” Rafa said. “When Don Roberto heard her testimony during a mission awareness trip, he said her story was a cathedral of hope.”

In the video below, Jerlin talks about how the CFCA scholarship program has helped her through many obstacles in life and how receiving a good education is allowing her to achieve her dreams.

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Apr 22 2010

The Rain Forest

Maria Alejandra VillalobosOne morning, as Walk2gether was winding its way through a rain forest in Costa Rica, MarÌa Alejandra Villalobos, the 11-year-old daughter of Rafa, San Jose project coordinator, was inspired by the forest’s natural beauty. She penned a poem and presented it to Bob Hentzen.

We translated her poem to English for you but included the Spanish version, too. Happy Earth Day!

The Rain Forest
by Maria Alejandra Villalobos

There is not a sound nor is life visible,
Only a symphony of rain drops with a plic plac sound …

Many colors canít be seen, only a deep natural green but, once in a while,
A little colorful flower gives life to the landscape …

There are different shades of leaves, large, small and coiled
Trees, with their chests held high, show their beauty …

The flora is striking in its natural green
And the moss offers a beautiful coat to the proud trees …

Far ahead a calf is grazing up in the mountain
A very straight pine tree firmly holds its acorns …

It is then when a soft wind can be felt,
The leaves wave from side to side …

The monkeys and squirrels are sleeping in the trees
Waiting for their reward in the form of a beautiful rainbow.

El Bosque Lluvioso
por Maria Alejandra Villalobos

No hay ruido ni tampoco se ve vida
Solo se oye la sinfonÌa de las gotas de lluvia que caen suavemente haciendo plic plac …

No se ven muchos colores, solo un verde natural, aunque, de vez en cuando,
Una florecilla colorada le da vida al lugarÖ

Hay distintas formas de hojas, grandes, cortas y enrolladas
Hay ·rboles que con su pecho en alto muestran su belleza …

La flora se resalta en su verde natural
Y los musgos verdes le dan un hermoso abrigo a los ·rboles grandes …

A lo lejos se ve una vaquita pastando en la montaÒa
Un pinito parado bien derechito mantiene con firmeza sus bellotas …

Cuando se viene una r·faga de viento las hojas, amarradas de sus raÌces,
Se ondulan de lado a lado

Los monos y las ardillas duermen en lo ·rboles
Esperando de recompensa un lindo arcoÌris.

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Apr 12 2010

Shining example of compassion

Carolyn and Pedro FerradasWe recently lost Carolyn Ferradas, a dear member of our CFCA family, to breast cancer. Carolyn and her husband, Pedro, traveled Latin America, training and supporting CFCA project staff, and attending mission awareness trips when needed. When they weren’t traveling, they lived near the San Jose project in Costa Rica. Carolyn was a shining example of the true meaning of CFCA’s community of compassion.

Rafa Villalobos, San Jose project director and close friend of Carolyn and Pedro, wrote a touching tribute to our friend Carolyn.

Thank you, Carolyn.
For letting yourself be molded by the poor, just like clay in the hands of the potter
For experiencing mercy and then sharing it
For bringing happiness and hope to the faces of so many children and families
For bringing light into many homes
For instilling in yourself a path of love, radiating a goodness without limits
For teaching us through example that we are created for great things, to love and to be loved
For being so persistent in saying that we must go to the roots of CFCA for the tree of this foundation to give real fruits
For living such a painful illness with profound peace and trust in the Good Father
For continuing, from heaven, to encourage and strengthen those of us here on Earth.

Carolyn and Pedro Ferradas

As we mourn for Carolyn, we also want to remember those who have lost their battle against this disease, and offer comfort to their loved ones still remaining on Earth.

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Apr 8 2010

Mothers walk together

By Christine Sementelli, CFCA sponsor.
Christine accompanied the Walk2gether team in Costa Rica for a week.

Christine Sementelli (left) and Zaida met in Costa Rica during Walk2gether and bonded over motherhoodNo matter where one travels, mothers have the same concerns, cares, thoughts, worries and desires for their children. While on my recent Walk2gether adventure in Costa Rica, I met Zaida, an extraordinary and simple mother. She resides in Bagaces, a town northwest of San Jose, Costa Rica.

She is a supporter of CFCA, which was evident by her 3:30 a.m. arrival time to the small and quaint town center for a long, tiring walk. Many are dedicated to CFCA in this town! Everyone proudly wore their blue CFCA T-shirts and baseball caps. The streets were filled with excitement, including the echoing of music from large speakers attached to the back of a car. Little did I know that this first day of walking would end up including some of the most memorable moments of my week!

I was more than ready for the walk, mentally, physically and spiritually. After completing my first 10K and enjoying a traditional Costa Rican breakfast, we began the second 10K of the day. The sun was up as we continued along the rocky, gravel-covered path through the extremely rural and poor areas of Bagaces. Out of nowhere, an arm was put around me, and I was swept into a conversation with Zaida that would last for hours.

At first there was a lot of small talk. The words that one would share when meeting a fellow mother for the first time, be it in small town U.S.A. or Bagaces, Costa Rica. What else would two moms start a conversation with besides, ìHow many children do you have?î and, ìHow old are they?î

We continued discovering more about our children. Isnít this so typical of mothers? The common bond of our children allowed us to talk for an extended period of time. I was honored to meet her youngest child, and I could see that Zaida was proud to introduce her to me, just as I would have been proud to introduce my own daughters to my new friend. As time went on, we talked about other topics, but somehow the conversation always led back to our children.

Each day on our journey, Don Roberto (Bob Hentzen) would stop and compassionately and respectfully listen to the CFCA parents tell their personal stories and their perspectives on how CFCA is helping and can better help in each community. Each community is unique and Bob knows this. He knows that one of his biggest allies is the CFCA mothers.

Zaida respectfully and confidently sat down next to Don Roberto and shared her story, her desires, her concerns and her ideas regarding her own children and the children of Bagaces supported through CFCA. Zaida is like so many mothers. We do whatever we can to make a better life for the ones we love the most.

Our day continued, and we were extremely comfortable with each other. Our energy was never-ending, even though the songs blasting from the oversized speakers were the same ones we began listening to at 3:30 in the morning. We put our arms around each other and shouted the now so familiar words, ìMi corazon, tu Corazon.” — my heart, your heart — became our battle cry. Arm in arm, we knew we had forged a friendship, a friendship based on the love for one thing all mothers around the world have in common: the love for their children.

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Dec 23 2009

Walk2gether begins in one week

The walking begins in one week!

On Dec. 29, CFCA President Bob Hentzen will embark on Walk2gether, an 8,000-mile, 16-month journey through 12 countries in Latin America.

CFCA staff and BobExcitement and anticipation are building as families and CFCA staff in Guatemala prepare to bid Bob and his fellow travelers “Buen Viaje.” More than 65 sponsors participating in the mission awareness trip will also be on hand for the launch.

Meanwhile, CFCA staff in Kansas gave Bob an official send-off when he visited the headquarters in late November. Read more here.

Check out the new Walk2gether website, where you can follow Bob on an interactive map, and explore links to his electronic journals and to videos, slideshows and stories about the realities, people and activities in the countries he visits. You can also send messages of support and encouragement that Bob will share with the families of sponsored members and the CFCA staff in the communities he visits.

Walk2gether is a way to help counterbalance the isolation of people living in poverty, and show them that someone cares. The walk will help build community and strengthen the bonds of unity between CFCA’s sponsored members, sponsors and staff. It will also symbolize and promote the unity of countries, races, languages, genders and creeds. Visit Walk2gether.org to learn more.

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