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CFCA stories

Life goes on in a natural disaster

September 23, 2013

Karen stood with a handful of dirt next to the rubble that was her home of 40 years before it was swept away by the rushing waters of Kenya's Nyando River. She is the grandmother and guardian of CFCA sponsored children George, 12, and Quinter, 11.

Karen, grandmother of two CFCA sponsored children, stands in front of the rubble of her former home.
Karen, grandmother of CFCA sponsored children, stands in front of
the remains of her former home.

In April, the Nyando area where Karen lives with her husband and grandchildren flooded from heavy rains that caused the nearby Nyando River to swell.

"I woke up to the sound of roaring waters rushing through my house. I thought the waters would sweep us away too. I kept saying a prayer for my grandchildren to be spared," Karen said.

Each year, hundreds of natural disasters occur around the globe. They take the form of floods, typhoons, cyclones, hurricanes, mudslides and many other natural events.

Those living in marginalized communities often reside in areas more prone to flooding, mudslides or other natural catastrophes because living in those areas is less expensive. In most cases, their homes provide inadequate protection from the elements, and are especially vulnerable in the extreme conditions of a natural disaster.

"Sponsored friends and their families do not just go through natural disasters," said Henry Flores, director of CFCA’s communications center in El Salvador. "Many, if not all, live in critical conditions all year round."

This is the reality facing many of the families served by CFCA. They lack the resources to move away from areas commonly hit the hardest by natural disasters.

ERPAT fathers take children to school by boat due to flooding.
ERPAT fathers take children to school by boat after flooding
in the Philippines.

CFCA's goal in disaster situations is to work with the families affected to find normalcy and resume their daily lives as quickly as possible.

In the Philippines, fathers of sponsored children in the Antipolo project created emergency response teams in their ERPAT groups to help during the frequent typhoons. (ERPAT stands for Empowerment and Reaffirmation of Paternal Abilities.)

The fathers work with the CFCA staff and with the community to ensure that those most vulnerable reach safety quickly.

They also help the families return to normalcy. Even though parts of the communities might still be flooded, children are still expected to return to school once it reopens. Fathers use their boats to help children reach their schools safely.

In many of the countries where CFCA works, families affected by natural disasters don't have the resources to rebuild on their own, and governments only have limited assistance to offer. For this reason, CFCA has the Disaster Assistance Fund.

Quinter, Karen and George in front of their new home.
Quinter, Karen and George in front of their new home.

Some projects create their own relief funds to which families contribute 20 to 25 cents each month. These locally created relief funds, combined with amounts from the Disaster Assistance Fund, give local staff the ability to help families rebuild homes, restore lost possessions and return their lives to normal.

"CFCA is there for the long run," said Luis Cocon, CFCA communications liaison for Guatemala, where heavy rains and mudslides often impact sponsored friends and their families. "We are there before, during and after disasters."

After the flooding of the Nyando River in Kenya, CFCA’s Kisumu project staffers distributed clothes, food and building materials according to the needs of each family.

With help from CFCA, Karen was able to rebuild her home. George and Quinter received new schoolbooks to replace the ones lost in the flood.

“I am grateful to CFCA for their continued support to me and my two grandchildren,” Karen said. “It is because of their assistance that we can sleep soundly through the night in our newly built house.”

Want to help? Donate to the CFCA Disaster Assistance Fund.

Hard rains flooded streets and homes in Cali, Colombia. Flooded streets in the Philippines after a typhoon. A house flooded after a typhoon struck the Philippines. Philippines-Parents prepare children for a boat ride to school through flooded areas. Children eating porridge provided by CFCA after evacuating due to a typhoon. Flooding from the River Nyando affects CFCA communities in Kenya. Colombia-Ana, Andres, Cristian, Jorge and Nesly take a break after hard rains hit their community. Personal belongings scattered by cyclone Thane in India. CFCA staffer makes his way through a flooded street in the Manila area. Mud coats the floor after flooding in the Cochabamba area in Bolivia. A family piled their belongings on a table to keep them out of the flood. The remains of the Cochabamba flood. India-CFCA sponsored youth John stands next to the remains of his home. Trees uprooted by cyclone Thane in India.
Donate to the disaster assistance fund

Disaster Assistance Fund

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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