Jun 1 2011

Mom fashions new life for family with pottery, sponsorship

Padma, a mother in India, has a son sponsored through CFCA. Thanks to the help of a CFCA social worker, Padma encourages her son to get a formal education instead of helping full time with the family business.

My name is Padma. I have three daughters and two sons; my youngest son, Durga Prasad, is sponsored.

Padma, Durga's mother

Padma, mother of Durga, a CFCA sponsored child.

My first daughter is married, and our other children help us by making and selling clay figures.

We also make piggy banks on a regular basis. Once filled with coins, the banks have to be broken to get the collection. Then a new one is purchased.

Our whole family, including Durga Prasad, is involved in making these.

Immediately after my first daughterís marriage, we had financial problems and also were in need of another helping hand to make clay figures.

Durga used to go to a government school, but showed disinterest in continuing school and started helping us.

Every time the CFCA social worker, Shahanaz, came to our area, she would talk to us regarding the importance of education and made us realize this.

She helped Durga Prasad get admission in school, and she said that if he attends regularly, she would try for the sponsorship.

Last year, Durga Prasad was admitted into the CFCA sponsorship program so he can continue his education without adding an extra burden for us.

Durga Prasad helps his mother make clay figures

Durga Prasad, right, helps his mother make clay figures.

As Durga Prasad is getting good marks in school, now we are planning to enroll him in an English school next year.

Now, Durga Prasad helps us only on school holidays, and on other days he does his homework after he comes back from school.

My husband and I have been working since our childhood and earning money, yet our lives did not improve. It just has been living from hand to mouth.

We do not own a house, do not have steady income, and are unable to give proper education to our kids.

Because of CFCA, now my son has the opportunity to get a formal education. He is our only hope for our better future.

Related story: Sponsorship helps families avoid child labor

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May 26 2011

Costa Rican moms receive affirmation, dignity from CFCA staff

The CFCA project in San Jose, Costa Rica, recently conducted an “encuentro” or gathering with some mothers of sponsored children to emphasize family unity, promote dignity and strengthen their self-esteem. Jean Carlo Arias, CFCA programs director in San Jose, offers his vision of this gathering.

“Be happy, woman; God has made you a life spring.”

Mothers group encuentro in Costa Rica

Mothers form into small discussion groups during the CFCA encuentro in Costa Rica.

With this phrase by a local CFCA social worker, Leticia Salazar, we gathered more than 100 mothers of sponsored children from the community of Desamparados, southeast from San Jose.

We wanted to motivate them, offer them a way to participate and encourage them in their roles as pillars in their families (most of them were single mothers).

Through motivational lectures and reflections, we tried to show these mothers a vision of the important role they have as mothers in the world and in CFCA’s Hope for a Family program.

“Understanding our real value as women, created as instruments of God to give life, strengthens us very much,” said Lizeth, the mother of sponsored children Yuri Fabiola and Yeudi Antonio.

Most of these mothers live in neighborhoods with economic problems as well as family disintegration.

This is why we try to increase their self-esteem so they can see themselves with love and as agents of change in their communities.

“A mother wears many hats,” said Marilu, the mother of sponsored child Elena. “She can be a doctor, psychologist, teacher, nurse, and adviser. She also is capable of fighting bravely for her children’s well-being. At the same time, we women are willing to progress, become professionals and be successful, in spite of the places and difficult realities we live in.”

Their dignity and value as mothers were strengthened in this meeting, increasing hope in their own homes.

“In this gathering, I learned to value life even more, recognizing that my children are not mistakes,” said Karol, mother of sponsored child Christopher. “They are treasures.”

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May 9 2011

Mothers grow small businesses in the Dominican Republic

This video features a mothers group in our project in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

The narrator in the video, Altagracia Flores, is a charismatic social worker in the Santo Domingo project. She and other CFCA staff members work closely with mothers of sponsored children who want to start or improve their livelihood or business.

They can access small loans from the group fund, which consists of the mothersí individual contributions and a CFCA matching amount.

Altagracia shares with us the example of two mothers who have succeeded in improving their small businesses and their families’ living conditions.

Enjoy!

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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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Mar 8 2011

A CFCA tribute for International Women’s Day

Today (March 8) is International Women’s Day. As we celebrate this day, we recognize women around the world who are leading their families and communities as they pursue a full and meaningful life.

Read these inspiring stories about women who have been helped through CFCA and are returning that help:

Maria CristinaBy all accounts, Maria Cristina should not have graduated from school or successfully completed her medical degree.

She should have been one of the 60-plus percent of Guatemalan youth who drop out of school by the sixth grade.

But Maria Cristina is unique. This is even more significant given that she is a woman and a member of the indigenous population in Guatemala.

FaridaWhen Farida fell into a deep depression after her husband abandoned the family, her son, Aftab, encouraged her to seek help from the CFCA mothers group.

With the support of other mothers in the program, Farida gradually recovered her self-esteem. She†learned to sew and tailor clothing through a class at the CFCA resource center.

Farida now gives back to her community. She adopted an orphaned street child, cared for him and enabled him to attend school. She runs a sewing business and is building a home for her family.

Guatemalan sewing mothers groupIn Guatemala, spirited mothers have formed a group to improve the lives of their families ó one garment at a time.

In 2009, eight of the women officially formed a new mothers group. They called themselves ìCreaciones la BendiciÛn,î or ìBlessed Creations.î

The women borrowed $1,800 for one year from CFCA to purchase fabric and an industrial sewing machine. They have sewed more than 11,000 T-shirts for Walk2gether, CFCA President Bob Hentzen’s 8,000-mile trek through Latin America.

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Jan 24 2011

Sponsor describes ‘God story’ behind latest sponsorship

We recently offered readers an opportunity to receive a free 2011 desk calendar if they blogged about us or entered our daily comment drawing by posting a blog comment. That opportunity is now closed, but we received many wonderful responses. This blog submission from Cheri Duchrow particularly moved us.

I started sponsoring children in 2003. I thought it was a good thing to help someone else and it would be good for my daughter.

Cheri Duchrow

Cheri Duchrow

Little did I know how these children would move the Holy Spirit in me. For almost two years, I had good intentions of writing but somehow did not make room in my schedule to do so.

Slowly but surely the Lord kept calling me to grow in relationship with Him and His people.

I heard speakers reflect on Exodus 16 where the Lord provides manna for His people and we are to only gather what we need. God honors radical risk-taking acts of faith evident in many biblical stories.

He led me to speak about child sponsorship, advocate letter writing and honor the relationships He had given me through these individuals, my extended family members.

I have witnessed many God moments at a sponsorship table. My latest child sponsorship has its own God story.

Joshiammal

Joshiammal, Cheri’s sponsored child

Florence

Florence, Cheri’s sponsored child in Mathare

I had read about others’ experiences in many countries where people make a living in city dumps and live in the slums. These break into the silence of my soul, and I cannot shut out the images.

One trip focused on Kenya and the Mathare slums. Even though I sponsored several individuals, I thought surely I could press myself and sponsor one more. When I called there weren’t any individuals available there.

Though I thought about Mathare on occasion, I let it slip into the background and the business of life took over.

Several months later I received one of CFCA’s informative magazines outlining several success stories. One talked about a program for the children in the Mathare area.

This was God shouting through the darkness, reminding me of the work He needed to do through me. I made a note to call CFCA to check into sponsoring there.

Another week went by. On a Sunday night I went to CFCA’s website, which had started to put pictures of the individuals needing to be sponsored.

I thought I would see whether any individuals from Kenya lived near Mathare. I thought maybe a girl or boy about 9 or 10 would be nice.

Then there was her photo. It wasn’t the photo that caught my eye but her name – Florence.

Continue reading

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Nov 29 2010

Texas sponsors reflect on meeting Joy in Kenya

Harry and Joanne Ehmann are CFCA sponsors who live just outside Dallas, Texas. This year, they decided to participate in a CFCA mission awareness trip to visit their sponsored friend Joy, who lives in Kenya. Their long-distance friendship with Joy has made a positive impact on their lives. You can read more about their story of friendship here.

The following is an excerpt from our conversation with these wonderful members of the CFCA community.

1) What ultimately led you to sponsor through CFCA?

Joanne: We were moved by the CFCA presentation made at St. Michaelís a few years ago and felt this was one way we could share some of the blessings God had bestowed upon us. Initially we had selected a young girl from Madagascar, but after a year of sponsorship, CFCA notified us that her family had moved out of the area.

Joy and Harry Ehmann

Joy and Harry Ehmann

Joy and Joanne Ehmann

Joy and Joanne Ehmann

We had the option to choose another or let CFCA choose for us. We asked CFCA to provide another girl for us. This is how Joy came into our lives. This also reinforces for us the conviction that through CFCA God chose Joy for us.

2) How has your sponsorship impacted your life?

Harry: Sponsorship with CFCA has enriched our lives. We enjoy the personal letters back and forth that really bring home our connection to her and her family. CFCA gives us the opportunity to give back in a meaningful way as we remember Christís words in Matthew 25:40.

3) What was it like to meet Joy in person?

Joanne: Wow! We were both so thrilled. It was like a reunion even though this was the first time weíd actually met. We had anticipated this moment in the days and months leading up to it, and thanks to the CFCA staff, we felt fully prepared. This only heightened our excitement.

As the bus pulled up we were met with singing and dancing by the mothers group. The moment I got off the bus I recognized Joy. She was even more beautiful than her pictures! … We both felt so much love for both Joy and her family and were thrilled to be able to meet her and hug her entire family.

4) Do you have a favorite memory or moment from the trip?

Harry: I guess other than our initial meeting my favorite memory was when our trip leader, Stephen, explained that due to the recent rains and muddy road conditions, it was not possible for us to ride the bus to visit Joyís home on the slopes of Mt. Kenya.

He told us that Joyís mother said it was only a ì20 minute walkî and conceded that her reckoning might be a bit short of what we could actually expect. And yet we all piled out to walk with Joy and her sisters and mother along the muddy road under overcast skies to their home about 4 miles and one hour away.

… We felt a sense of fellowship with the members of our group who risked the red mud glomming to their shoes, the slippery paths and the threatening clouds to share with us what Joy and her family experienced themselves on a regular basis.

It struck me later that our little trek personified the CFCA slogan of not just carrying the poor, but walking with them instead.

5) What was it like to see her living conditions and the impact you are making?

Continue reading

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