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CFCA stories

Families unite through CFCA when storms strike

July 22, 2013

One of the outgrowths of CFCA sponsorship is the way families of sponsored children come together to support each other, especially in times of crisis such as severe weather.

When a storm packing heavy rains and winds struck a Cali, Colombia, neighborhood, women who had gathered for a CFCA mothers group meeting at a local school sprang into action.

Hard rains in Cali Colombia
Hard rains in Cali, Colombia, caused flooding in the streets and damaged
many homes and buildings.

Harrison Garcia, CFCA communications liaison in Colombia, was observing the mothers group meeting when the storm hit. He witnessed the mothers' concern for their neighbors as they helped salvage household items, repair roofs that had blown off homes and make hot coffee for those helping with the repairs.

"All of the families were united through CFCA," Garcia said. "In that moment, I could see how these families loved and cared for each other."

Weather-related events are common in many areas of the world where CFCA works, but especially in the Philippines, where about 20 typhoons hit every year.

First responders

CFCA has five projects in the Philippines — Antipolo, Legazpi, Manila, Quezon and Zamboanga. More than 45,000 children and aging friends are sponsored in the Hope for a Family sponsorship program.

ERPAT Fathers in the Philippines
ERPAT fathers in the Philippines join together to help families clean up
after disasters occur.

"The CFCA parents, youth and staff are often the first responders to CFCA families and to other community members," said Paul Pearce, CFCA director of global strategy.

Fathers of sponsored children in CFCA's Antipolo project are among first responders in their community. Since their formation in 2004, the ERPAT Fathers have distinguished themselves as community leaders in disaster response and other areas. (ERPAT stands for Empowerment and Reaffirmation of Paternal Abilities.)

Though frequently in the face of turmoil, communities in the Philippines unite through hardship, said Trisha Pitts, CFCA international finances director.

"They are very helpful to each other when disaster strikes," she said. "Community members will collect clothing for those who have lost their homes and belongings, or share food with one another."

Pearce, too, observed that communities strengthen in times of crisis.

"I have seen generations come together during these times — the young, the parents, the young at heart — to support one another," he said.

Disaster Assistance Fund

Flood damage in Kisumu region
A CFCA sponsored child's home was among those damaged after the
Nyando River in Kenya flooded.

CFCA supports families in emergencies through sponsorship and special funds such as the Disaster Assistance Fund. Donations to the fund are used to provide food, water, shelter and medical care, and help with long-term recovery needs.

When heavy rains earlier this year caused flooding along the banks of Kenya's Nyando River, CFCA was able to issue an emergency grant to the Kisumu project, to help families with needs such as food, mattresses, warm clothing and rubber boots for the children to protect them from parasites.

Families living in poverty are disproportionally impacted by natural disasters because they are more likely to live in substandard housing that is more vulnerable to the elements. They also tend to live in low-lying areas that are more prone to flooding. They make their living on the margins of society, so they often have no emergency funds to fix damages to their homes.

One of the great benefits of the community that CFCA builds in regions is that families learn to help each other in a coordinated manner, so disaster funding stretches further.

The mother of a CFCA sponsored child cleans after the heavy rains cause damage to her home. Water from the flooding of the Nyando River in Kenya caused severe damage to many homes. CFCA sponsored friends and their families clean up after a tropical storm caused damage in 2011. Sponsored friend, Mahalakshmi, and her mother by their home damaged by Cyclone Thane in 2012. Heavy rains in Guatemala caused flooding and damage to properties and homes in 2011. Saritha, CFCA staff member, hands supplies to families affected by Cyclone Thane in 2012. Heavy rains and flooding cause damage to the bed of a sponsored friend. The home of a CFCA sponsored friend was among those damaged by flooding in the Kisumu region. The heavy rains in Guatemala in 2011 caused severe landslides and damage. John, sponsored friend, with his family outside their home damaged by Cyclone Thane in 2012. Flooding from a tropical storm in 2011 caused damage to many homes in the Philippines. The CFCA staff works with sponsored friends and their families to clean up damage caused by rain. CFCA staff in Guatemala provides goods to families affected by the heavy rains in 2011. Homes of CFCA sponsored friends were affected by flooding from a tropical storm in 2011. Flooding in the Kisumu region caused damage to many structures and homes.
Donate to the disaster assistance fund

Disaster assistance

Help address the needs of sponsored members and their families following natural disasters and other emergencies. Donations support relief and recovery efforts following earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, typhoons, fires, floods and mudslides. Funds are used where they are most needed, as determined by Unbound and project staff. Learn more »
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