Since 2007, the priests and laity of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and beyond have contributed mightily to build homes for desperately poor families in Nicaragua and Haiti. Thanks be to God and all of our donors that as of June 2015 there are over 1000 families living a better life. We share their joy in getting a safe & sturdy home, clean water supply at the home, sanitation facilities and additional life-supporting farm animals and material goods all given to these poor people at no cost.
A missions group from Father Chuck's Challenge, led by Theresa Gilmore and Father Charles Kennedy, traveled to Nicaragua the week of June 15, 2015. The group spent the week visiting existing FCC communities and dedicating our new communities just completed this past year. It was a joyful time everywhere we went. Old friends were glad we came back once again to see them. It was heartwarming to see how good they all were doing.
Our first community, completed in 2008 and dedicated to the memory and ministry of our "Challenger", Father Charles (Chuck) Pfeffer, was our first stop. Father Pfeffer's Community is, after eight years of progress, flourishing. It is truly amazing what lifting up these good people from their destitute living conditions can do. By giving them safe shelter, satisfying their daily thirst and providing them a means to produce food for their family, they now have hope. As a community working together we have seen the people of Fr. Pfeffer's Community progress up the ladder of self-sufficiency. They have multiplied the animals FCC originally provided many times over, to a level that now continually benefits all members of the community. Meat and eggs are now choices for meals. Beans are still a staple, but bean farming has become an economic asset for the community. They tell us that profits from beans sales at the market have provided funds for school supplies, drugs for their clinic, livestock and even more land to farm. Most children now make it to school, which holds the promise of opportunities that their parents never had.
Since this was the first FCC community, we went out to visit the first Father Chuck's Challenge home. The original family, the Ubedas, were still there. And so with the entire community crowded around Home Number 1, we conducted a special ceremony of remembrance. Gifts were exchanged, photos taken and a special commemorative plaque affixed to their outside wall.
Each day thereafter held for us similar experiences. New homes were blessed and we met the new owners for the first time. On Friday we set out early to reach the new St. John Paul II Community. It was a busy time for our group. After Mass, celebrated in the village square, we set out to find the 1000th Home and the family who lives there. The community gathered around the home and we celebrated this special occasion. This celebration was not only for FCC's milestone event, but more importantly for the 50 new homes, a school and community center that is now their new home. We split up into groups and visited as many homes as we could. The children had fun playing games with some of our group in the school yard. Food for the Poor donated food for a meal at the school and nearly 300 children and adults were fed that morning.
Posted here is a selection of photos that document our missions trip. Our FCC missions team wore our green Father Chuck's Challenge shirts on Friday in unity and thankfulness for the blessings of over a 1000 homes since our first home was built in 2007. There are many more families that still need our help so we will press on "Building one Home at a time".