Mar 3 2011

Nurturing potential for 25 years in El Salvador

In December 2010, CFCA celebrated its 25th anniversary of service in El Salvador. Henry Flores, director of the communications center in El Salvador and an employee of CFCA there for 16 years, offers this reflection.

I was first introduced to CFCA in 1995 when I was returning from the U.S. where I had lived and studied for seven years.

The CFCA office in Santa Ana, in El Salvador, needed to hire a translator. Though I wasn’t the best translator, I was blessed to be given the opportunity.

Henry Flores

Henry Flores

My first thought about the job was, “This should be a nice way to readjust myself to the country and make some income until I find something better to do.”

The days passed and little by little, I reconnected with my roots and started to learn from the people of my country, those who are hidden in their cardboard, rusted metal sheet and old wood houses, those we call “the poor.”

They taught me that “rich” is not about how much you have, but how little you need. This made a permanent impact on my heart and what started as a temporary job has become a 16-year passion for service.

People living in poverty constantly humble me with their reality and difficult life burdens but unbelievable resilience and faith.

In December 2010, we celebrated the 25th anniversary of CFCA’s service in El Salvador. Twenty-five is an easy number to say but the stories and miracles behind it are endless.

I have witnessed the life transformation of thousands of sponsored members and their families, becoming better trained to build their own path out of poverty with the tools provided by CFCA.

Many of the children sponsored by CFCA in these 25 years are now adults, who have been able to break the circle of poverty, live with stronger family values and understand the importance of education.
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Feb 16 2011

A look back at Walk2gether in Peru

CFCA asks project coordinators in the countries that Walk2gether visits to complete questionnaires about their experience with the walk. The questions are intended to identify the walk’s highlights and challenges in their country. Here are some comments from Henry Perez, project coordinator in Lima, Peru. (Walk2gether is now in Bolivia.)

What are the most memorable moments during the walk?

The Walk2gether camper had to leave the walk so that its country circulation permits could be renewed in Peru. We drove the camper back to the border to renew the permits.

During this trip, the camper suffered several mechanical problems, causing a delay in catching up with the walk.

Walk2gether in the Peruvian desert

Walk2gether in the desert in Peru.

The camper was away from Walk2gether about five days. Most of Bob’s equipment and gear is inside. It’s the only place where he has time to rest and relax during the walk.

In spite of this, Bob showed his strength and will to continue and spent these days in a minivan to rest and keep the little gear he had. We were able to spend more time with him and see a different side of his humanity.

The second most memorable moment was walking on the road from Arequipa to Juliaca. The narrow, steep roads took us from 2,800 meters (about 1.7 miles) above sea level to 4,528 meters (about 2.8 miles) in the same day.

The curves were very dangerous and the visibility was poor. A very strong rainstorm occurred, and we suffered extreme cold that numbed our body. Then a hailstorm hit as we were going up the road.

Despite these extreme weather and road conditions, Bob did not stop and motivated all of us to continue with our mission.

What are some challenges Walk2gether encountered?

CFCA-Lima has three full-time staff members and serves about 1,600 sponsored members. At the same time, the walk in Peru was going to be very long, almost four months, because Peru is a big country ó almost twice the size of Texas. During much of the walk no sponsored members or their families were nearby to accompany it.

All three of us agreed to take on this challenge, and we did it!

What are some things that went well?

We had company and protection from the national police and the ability to consolidate our team’s duties by multitasking.

Walk2gether portable bathroom

Walk2gether’s portable bathroom.

We had a police escort 98 percent of the way in Peru. Some policemen even joined the core group of the walk (“Grupo Corazon”) and walked long distances, offering protection.

Did you have a funny moment during the walk?

Many! One was at a rest stop when one of the drivers went to use the portable bathroom.

Nobody knew he was in there and the truck driver pulling the portable bathroom took off.

The man inside the bathroom did not know what to do. He opened the door and realized it was moving, but he could not close the door again and stayed and greeted the people in the buses that were passing by.

We remembered this moment along the rest of the walk!

Did anything go wrong?
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Jan 27 2011

Bolivian festival of miniatures a big deal

Walk2gether arrived in La Paz, Bolivia, in time to celebrate Las Alasitas, a local festival with indigenous roots.

Bolivian miniatures
Bolivian miniatures in hand

Here are two Bolivian miniatures, gifts to some of our staff in International. They are about an inch tall and easily fit into the palm of your hand.

Henry Flores, director of CFCAís communication center in El Salvador, spoke by phone with Ruth Valderrama, La Paz project coordinator.

Ruth and the walkers were arriving at the hotel and she did not have much time, but she managed to provide this brief explanation of the tradition.

The Las Alasitas fair is a local tradition that usually starts on Jan. 24 and lasts for about three days. People from all over La Paz and nearby El Alto come to the fair.

The fair is celebrated only in La Paz at the fair center and on the main avenue of El Alto, very close, but higher in altitude, than La Paz.

During the fair, local artisans, mostly indigenous people, make miniatures symbolizing different material wishes people have for the upcoming year.

These wishes can be for a house, a car, etc. People buy a miniature of the item they wish to receive.

There are also miniatures for those looking for a match. Women who want to find the man of their dreams buy miniature roosters. Men looking for a woman buy miniature chickens.

This major cultural celebration has its origins in indigenous Andean traditions. In ancient times, people would present miniatures to Ekeko, a household god of abundance and prosperity.

Many families in the CFCA sponsorship program participate in this local cultural celebration.

To see pictures from the fair, see our Facebook photo album.

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Nov 30 2010

A family transformed through CFCA’s work in El Salvador

We have two new stories on our website, hopeforafamily.org. Even though they focus on two people – Santiago and his son, Cesar – they are all about one incredible family.

Santiago's family

Santiago and his family

Santiago, from El Salvador, credits CFCA sponsorship with giving his family a support network of local CFCA staff, sponsors for his children and other families in the CFCA program.

ìI think the best gift that I could have received from God is to have a group of people who support me,î he said.

His oldest son, Cesar, is planning to study accounting and English. He’s a CFCA scholar and has received educational assistance, clothing and school supplies.

ìWithout CFCA, my parents could not cover these needs and I would have to drop out of school and go out and work to help my parents bring up my siblings,î Cesar said. ìThis is a real impact on my family and on my life.î

In the future, Cesar hopes to start a family, own a home and buy a car.

Read Santiago’s story here.

Read Cesar’s story here.

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