Mom building path out of poverty for her family

April 21, 2010

Augustina and four of her children

Agustina is a mom raising her six children on her own in Desamparados, one of the most dangerous and congested neighborhoods in Costa Rica.

The tight living space means everyone sleeps in the same room. Agustina and two of her younger children sleep in one bed. Her oldest daughter shares another bed with the youngest son. The two older boys sleep in a third bed. It isn’t easy getting everyone up.

“Many times I don’t get a good night of sleep,” Agustina said. “Having so many children in one bedroom is not easy. I get up feeling tired and not rested.”

Augustina walks this hill to the bus stop.

Agustina needs her rest to make it through her stressful days caring for her children and working all day on her feet as a waitress.

To get to work, she walks down a steep hill to catch a bus, then rides 45 minutes into the capital of San Jose. She returns at 10 p.m. and has to climb up the same steep hill in the dark on dangerous streets.

Life in a congested neighborhood such as Desamparados is full of noise and disorder. Houses are built close together. Dust or mud from unpaved streets is a constant presence. Families have no privacy and are vulnerable to theft because they can’t secure what few posessions they may own.

Hope for a Family sponsorship helps families living in such conditions, families such as Agustina’s, to find stability and hope in the midst of the chaotic environment.

Two of her children are currently sponsored: Johan, 8, and Francini, 12. Her oldest daughter, Leslie, 21, who was previously sponsored and graduated from high school in 2009 now attends college. The support Agustina receives from the Hope for a Family program allows her to direct the income she earns as a waitress toward necessities, such as the education of her non-sponsored children, which is something very important to her.

“Everything I save with Francini I can save for my older daughter’s education,” Agustina said. “CFCA gives me the opportunity to save something to cover my needs.”

She was also able to take a small loan to build a better home with cement walls and a good roof.

Valeria is Augustina's youngest daughter.

“We still need to work more on it because we have a dirt floor and no internal bathroom, but I am optimistic that as soon as I finish paying this loan, I will get another one to complete our house,” Agustina said. “My hope is that this house will be for my youngest daughter,Valeria, 4, because she is the smallest one.”

Agustina dreams for her children to become professionals, for them to help her finish building the house and for them to be a united family. Her children’s sponsors and the supportive community in the Desamparados Hope for a Family program give Agustina the encouragement she needs to reach her goals.

CFCA gives families a safe space

Desamparados is located near San Jose and is the most populous district in Costa Rica, with about 207,000 people in a 4.5 square-mile area, according to Costa Rica geographic and census information.

The name “Desamparados” means “deserted” or “abandoned,” which could describe the residents who rapidly migrated to the area. CFCA began serving the residents of Desamparados in 1991, and today, it is the largest community where CFCA works in Costa Rica, with nearly 850 sponsored members. CFCA's Hope for a Family program serves about 6,800 sponsored members in the entire country.

A CFCA community center, built with help from the community, is a safe place where mothers, youth and children can meet.

When Walk2gether visited Desamparados on March 17, the mayor presented CFCA President Bob Hentzen and his wife, Cristina, with an award in appreciation for CFCA’s work in the community.

A central purpose of Walk2gether is to say to families along the walk route and in communities around the world that “You are not alone.” The CFCA family—made up of sponsors, staff, volunteers and other sponsored members—is with them every step of the way.

Learn more about CFCA's Hope for a Family program in Costa Rica »