Tag Archives: women

Jan 22 2013

Helping end violence in India by empowering women, girls

Elizabeth-AlexBy Elizabeth Alex, CFCA community outreach and media relations director

The voice of powerless women in India has been heard.

It’s tragic that it took the rape, torture and agonizing death of a promising young physiology student to bring that voice to the world.

“I am heartbroken about the news of this young woman,” said Paul Pearce, CFCA director of global strategy. “She was heroic to hold her head up high and go to school. I hear she had big dreams of building a hospital back in her village.”

CFCA has more than 35,000 sponsored children and aging friends in India. We also support a home for boys from the streets in Delhi, the city where the young woman was attacked.

Our staff and families understand how the simple act of boarding a bus can become a deadly decision; women and the poor are vulnerable and become targets just by reaching for their dreams.

“The heroic journey on the path out of poverty can be a daunting and even lonely task,” Pearce said. “Many in the communities where we work live in a state of isolation.”

We are learning that most of the five young men, who are charged with luring the 23-year-old woman and her friend onto a bus with the promise of a ride, came from a slum neighborhood. They have no jobs, and are unable to hire an attorney to represent them.

CFCA works in India and 21 other countries to end this violent cycle with a model that focuses on the individual and his or her needs while building safe and responsible communities. Read more

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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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Mar 8 2010

A prayer for International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day. We celebrate the accomplishments of all women and look with hope toward a future of equality and empowerment. On this occasion, it is fitting to share the story of Maria Cristina, a former sponsored child who graduated as a doctor and surgeon in 2010.

Such a profession seemed impossible for a girl from a poor household in Guatemala, but Maria Cristina persevered with the support of her family and her sponsors of 17 years, Mary Anne and Marshall.

Her faith in her abilities and in the constancy of God’s help was unwavering. This faith continued even when she failed the first two years of classes and had to repeat them.

“What is important is to have faith and to take advantage of all opportunities that may come your way,” she said. “Fill yourself with good intentions, have courage and be decisive, listen to good advice and rub shoulders with people who are optimists. Faith is something in which, without seeing, we believe. And if we believe in achieving something, we will.”

Please pray:
Lord, bless women everywhere. We pray especially for all those mothers, grandmothers and sisters who work to care for family members in need while forging their own paths in life. May their loving hearts and nurturing spirits be blessed with strength and joy. We ask this in your holy name. Amen.

Blessings,

CFCA Prayer Team

This is from our weekly ePrayer. Sign up to receive Prayer Partners in your inbox.

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Mar 8 2010

Kenya mothers group makes shoes

By Janet Tinsley, project director, Africa region

On a sunny day in the informal settlement of Kibera in Nairobi, the Vision Mothers group members file into a small courtyard in front of one of their memberís homes for their monthly meeting. The 30 women and one man, all wearing the same cloth wrapped around their waists, heads or shoulders, find seats on benches in the shady areas of the courtyard and open the meeting.

About two years ago, the Nairobi project team introduced the idea of mothers groups to the mothers of the Kibera subproject and asked them to begin forming groups and register with the local government. The project staff intentionally left these responsibilities in the hands of the mothers, insisting that they choose for themselves which group they would join, raise the funds for registration (around $20), and complete the registration process before asking the project for further support.

At the Nairobi project, the mothers group model operates from the basic belief that mothers are capable, resourceful people.

“We realized that whenever we called a parent meeting, it was the mothers who showed up,” Peter Ndungo, Nairobi project coordinator, said. “In our culture, the mothers are the ones [who are] most concerned with the well-being of children, so it made the most sense to work with them.”

At todayís meeting, the topic for discussion was finding a space to rent for their shoemaking business. Earlier this year, the group started learning to make and sell shoes as a way to add to their group loan fund.

The Vision Mothers came up with the unique idea for the shoemaking business through trial and error. Their original idea was to start a trash removal service in their community, but they soon realized that there were already many other groups doing this.

“We didnít want conflict with the other groups, so we decided to change our business idea,” the group chairperson explains.

Shoemaking, a craft that is typically dominated by men in Kenya, is a nontraditional endeavor for the women. Nonetheless, the Vision Mothers saw shoemaking as an opportunity to make good profits and provide a much needed commodity for their community, but CFCA families are only some of the many customers they hope to serve in Kibera.

Some tools of the shoemaking trade

Some tools of the shoemaking trade

With the sale of their first batch of shoes, the group made a profit of about $130, and in the future, they hope to use the profits to start a resource and training center that would include a meeting hall and computer training for the members and the community.

Today is International Women’s Day! Read (and watch!) more inspiring stories about the women of CFCA:

Strength and power
An opportunity for women(Part 1)
Support in a time of need (Part 2)
Mothers share their talents to improve their community (Part 3)
Creating role models close to home (Part 4)

Mar 13 2009

Letters + watercolors = land for a family

By Marcia Willman, CFCA director of child services

Kinya standing next to her sheepAt 11, Kinya knows how important an education is for her future because she is growing up where there often isn’t one.

One day I received a letter from Kinya that changed both of our lives. She wrote, ìI’m now at a new school Ö This is because we moved after eviction. I’m still working hard.î I knew that Kinya, her mom and two older brothers were squatters on government land at the foot of Mount Kenya, but this word, eviction, caught me by surprise.

It is obvious that Kinya is loved deeply by her mom. Kinya is a joyous child. She is a good story teller. She shares her life with me in every letter that she writes. Her stories bring us together and build the bonds of our friendship. So when I heard that word eviction, I knew I had to help her.

I chose to sponsor Kinya because she is being raised by a single mother who struggles to put food on the table and pay rent because she can find occasional odd jobs. I know the challenges of being a single mom because I am one, too. Thus, I feel compelled to help another woman and mother in less fortunate circumstances provide the most basic needs of food and shelter for her family.

I have been painting with watercolors for years. I never considered marketing or selling my art until trying to figure out a way to help Kinya. I finally realized that I could use my God-given talent to help my friend.

For more than two years I have been on a mission to sell my paintings. Along the way, I won the right to call myself an artist. I send the proceeds from my art sales to help Kinya’s family. Last April Kinyaís family was able to purchase half an acre of fertile, productive farm land.

Ann radiates happiness.Kinya’s mom, Ann, immediately planted row after row of corn and potatoes to take advantage of the pending rainy season. Ann proved to be hard-working and industrious. Along the way, she proudly rose to the role of provider. While weeding with a hoe in hand, Ann beams in the photos I received from Project Timau. Annís smile demonstrates her strength to overcome adversity when given the opportunity. It shows she believes her family has a future.

So, Kinya’s house was built. Ann’s first crops were harvested. And, Kinya’s family bought two sheep because they were able to feed themselves and generate enough income by laboring on their own land. Along the way, Kinya found comfort and a safe haven from eviction. ìAt last I’m enjoying rains in a nice house that doesn’t leak. Thanks a lot for making my life happy Ö You are part of my life, I cherish your care.î Once again, I received another letter from Kinya that changed my life. It feels wonderful to be an artist, to help another single mom and to be cherished by Kinya!

You can see Marcia’s paintings by visiting her Web site, watercolorsforacause.org.

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Mar 12 2009

Creating role models close to home

Mothers groups offer the mothers of sponsored children a support system, both financially and emotionally. Dan Pearson of international programs says mothers groups allow the women to demonstrate their strength, which society, as a whole, does not always recognize. But perhaps one of the most important benefits of mothers groups is that the mothers themselves become strong, female role models for their daughters. Part four of four videos

Mothers share their talents to improve their community (Part 3)
Support in a time of need (Part 2)
Watch an introduction to mothers groups (Part one)
What do we mean by “empowerment?”

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Mar 9 2009

Indian women and the Liberian police force

By Janet Tinsley, Africa project director, international programs

As we were driving through Monrovia during a recent project visit to Liberia, a unit of U.N. soldiers caught my attention. United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) troops, or ìblue hatsî as they are commonly known, are a familiar sight around the city, and they eventually blend into the background after a day or so in the country. But this particular unit captured my attention because they were unique ñ they were all Indian women.

Immediately, I turned to our project coordinator who was sitting next to me in the taxi and asked her about them. She explained that they were a special unit of Indian police officers who had been sent to Liberia to serve as U.N. police officers. She said they were also meant to be an inspiration to Liberian women to join the Liberian police.

I was intrigued. The notion of an all-female U.N. peace-keeping unit was interesting enough, because I was not aware of any other. But the fact that they were from India, another country where CFCA works and one with its own unique issues around the status of women, was exciting to me.

When I got home, I did some digging, and I learned that the U.N. has so far sent three all-female Indian units since 2007 to serve in Liberia. The most recent unit was deployed in early February of this year. They are known as the Indian Formed Police Unit (FPU), and their official mission is to provide crowd and traffic control, anti-robbery patrols, and protection for UNMIL staff and assets. But the less tangible attributes they bring to the job may even be more important.

Research from around the world shows that women police officers are adept at resolving conflicts through non-violent means. In a war-weary country like Liberia, this is a very valuable skill, and this makes the FPUís mission very important. The Indian officers also spend time with schoolgirls teaching self-defense techniques, self-esteem and even Indian dance. The presence of the female officers has been an inspiration to young Liberian women and girls, and the nation has seen an increase of women applying to join the Liberian police force.

The Indian women are certainly an inspiration to me, and I hope their presence leaves a lasting impression on the Liberian people, especially the girls, for whom the sky is the limit.

Learn more

Liberia gets all-female peacekeeping force

Indian Women police inspire Liberian women to join Liberiaís police force

Liberian police graduate record number of women

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