CFCA stories

Elderly couple finds love through CFCA in Chile

February 3, 2012

Alicia and Jose are both in their 70s, but they're beginning a new life together after meeting through CFCA.

CFCA sponsored aging friends Alicia and Jose in Chile
Alicia, 76, and Jose, 72, are two sponsored aging friends in the CFCA
sponsorship program in Valparaiso, Chile. They met at the CFCA
office and fell in love.

Alicia, 76, is a widow sponsored through the Hope for a Family program in Valparaiso, Chile. She has three children, but they live far away from her.

"Alicia would always express to us how lonely she used to feel, having no one to talk to or share a life with," said CFCA-Chile staff member Carolina Salazar Herrera.

Unbeknownst to Alicia, another sponsored aging friend was also suffering from loneliness.

Jose, 72 and also sponsored through CFCA, was renting a small, windowless room with no access to natural light. CFCA staff members visited him and noted his income as a mechanic was barely enough to cover the rent. He ate very little, sometimes not at all.

The two met one day at the CFCA office in Valparaiso and began a conversation. They discovered they had many common interests and felt right for each other, Herrera said.

"Now, Jose and Alicia keep each other company," Herrera said. "Jose lives with dignity now. He has recovered his natural cheerfulness, is full of hope, more active and enjoys good conversations."

Alicia, too, is no longer lonely.

"For Alicia, being in CFCA is the nicest thing that has ever happened to her," Herrera said. "She feels loved and, above all, accompanied and supported."

CFCA staff members in Chile say they have identified three cases of couples formed, thanks to the sponsorship program for the aging.

"Since the Hope for a Family program began in Chile in 1982, the program for the aging has always been a strong example of mutual accountability and support," said Brenda Rush, CFCA project director for Chile. "The aging have an opportunity to come together in a central location to learn, have meals together, build relationships and establish a sense of community only found in CFCA."

The Valparaiso project serves approximately 500 sponsored aging friends, who receive food vouchers and clothing as needed. Mothers of sponsored children who have been trained in beauty shops also offer free haircuts to the sponsored elderly.

The project offers birthday celebrations and 16 different recreational activities to the sponsored elderly. These activities include choir, theater, gymnastics, handcrafts and tai chi.

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