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CFCA stories

Colombian mother finds life beyond four walls

September 9, 2013

In her mid-30s, Genarina lived in a small wooden room with her husband and four children in Cartagena, Colombia.

Genarina, mother of sponsored children
Genarina stands in front of her former home.

Her husband had eye problems and did not have steady work. At the time, Genarina lacked the skills needed to support her family.

Living in poverty weighed heavily on her heart. She felt isolated and alone.

"I thought that my life was there in my room," Genarina said, "and that relationships with other people outside my life were not made for me. I did not care about life, and I did not care about my personal appearance.

"I just cared a bit about my four children."

A ray of hope

A decade later, at the age of 46, Genarina has built a different life for herself and her family. All four of her children now are sponsored through CFCA.

While the program has provided education and many other benefits to her children, it has also provided a source of growth for Genarina.

"When I started to participate actively in the CFCA groups, my life changed a lot," she said. "I met a lot of friends, and finally I knew my neighbors.

"I realized that my life was more than the four walls where I was living."

Genarina was introduced to CFCA 10 years ago through her husband's cousin. She learned then that her daughter could be sponsored.

Genaraina said that at first she was afraid, thinking that sponsorship meant her daughter could be taken away to the United States; but when she learned more about the program and knew how it worked, she really liked the idea.

Building a better life

Through CFCA, Genarina has had the chance to participate in skills courses, such as shoemaking and a beautician course. Learning these skills has allowed her to find work to sustain her family.

Genarina, mother of a sponsored youth
Genarina spends time with her daughter, Elvia, by fixing her hair.

Genarina and her family moved into the house next to their wooden house and made improvements to the new home.

"I saved money from my work to fix it and build my house with cement and bricks," Genarina said. "CFCA saw all my efforts and my commitment with the group of mothers and they helped me to finish fixing my house, and they gave me the roof."

Genarina is grateful to her children's sponsors and CFCA for partnering with her to improve her family's living conditions.

"I thank so much CFCA and the sponsors of my children for this," Genarina said. "I saved money from my work during eight years to have a better house and bring a better life condition to my children."

Genarina is an active participant in the local CFCA mothers group. Through community interaction, she discovered that she is a natural leader. She helps lead her mothers group and has built strong relationships with the other members of her community.

Setting an example

"When mothers groups are created, many women establish friendships and support systems that may not otherwise have been established without being part of CFCA," said Brenda Rush, project administrative director for CFCA-Kansas.

"Through these relationships, many women have become empowered to share their hopes and fears, establish trust with others and become business entrepreneurs. Their children and families become aware of this unveiled strength and become more appreciative and respectful of their talents."

Genarina's involvement with CFCA through the years has helped her to be a good role model for her children.

CFCA Cartagena office
Genarina leads the discussion for her mothers group.

Her daughter, 16-year-old Elvia, is proud of her mother and how she takes care of her and her three brothers.

"Now she is working hard for us and she helps us with our education," Elvia said, "and she cares for our personal appearance."

Genarina said she feels a sense of accomplishment for what she has achieved.

"I am so proud of myself for improving our life condition, for getting a job and for having a better relationship with the community of my area," she said. "I want to be an example for my children.

"As I got ahead and improved my life, I want my children also to continue getting ahead and to be successful in the future."

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