Building trust in CFCA mothers groups in Colombia
December 2, 2011
Mothers groups have brought Bogota, Colombia, Coordinator Judith Bautista and her staff closer to the mothers in the program.
Sandra has two children sponsored through CFCA. She is president
of a CFCA mothers group, "Explorers of the Future," in Colombia.
"For us, their potential was somehow hidden, but now that we work closer with the mothers, we can see them," she said.
Bautista and her staff implemented mothers groups in January 2010. At first, they had to encourage the mothers to be active and responsible participants in the CFCA sponsorship program.
To do this, they had to make it easy for the mothers to participate. So the staff scheduled meetings at night and on weekends so they didn't conflict with the mothers' work schedules.
Eighteen months later, Bautista and her staff have witnessed "small miracles."
"I see lots of passion in the work," Bautista said. "Some mothers started to feel supported enough to denounce to the authorities domestic violence. Other women went back to finish high school."
Sandra is the mother of two children sponsored through CFCA. When she first heard about mothers groups, she was apprehensive.
"With this new concept, we had to be more involved and we had more responsibility," she said. "At some point, we thought that CFCA was no longer going to help us."
Sandra's fears subsided after participating in Walk2gether, CFCA President Bob Hentzen's 8,000-mile solidarity walk through 12 Latin American countries.
"This walk told me that it was not just about being in [the walk], but about participating in [the walk]," Sandra said.
Sandra now serves as president of "Explorers of the Future," a group of 20 mothers.
They meet biweekly to talk about their lives, receive formation and guidance from the Bogota staff, get general information about the project, and learn about activities for the year.
The mothers discuss what participation they will have in those project activities. The groups also help children write letters and Christmas cards to sponsors, and they plan the birthday and Christmas parties.
Explorers of the Future has given Sandra a greater sense of belonging and space to solve problems. She wants to support the other mothers.
"When the mothers feel part of something, feel accepted, feel part of society, very interesting changes can happen for them besides helping to change the financial and economic condition of the mother and her family," Sandra said.
She is passing on this sense of empowerment to her children.
"My children will learn that as humans, we can fall down sometimes, but there will always be someone with us to support us such as CFCA or the mothers in our group," she said.