About Us

Based in the rural community of Santa Ana, Costa Rica, the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation (CRHF) works to improve the quality of life of the most vulnerable populations in Costa Rica. The Foundation now manages more than fifty volunteer projects throughout the country, focusing on education, community development, primary and preventive health care, and extensive support services for women, at-risk youth and indigenous groups. All needs that the CHRF addresses are defined by the local populations, thus ensuring a high level of commitment to each of our programs.

Homestay mothers with Lorena Araya Homestay Coordinator and Gail Nystrom CRHF Director
Homestay mothers with Lorena Araya Homestay Coordinator and Gail Nystrom CRHF Director

The work of the CRHF is carried out by a diverse group of volunteers from all over the world. Through the friendship and support of our volunteer network, the people in the communities that we serve learn to believe in themselves as they search for lasting solutions to their daily problems. CRHF volunteers are involved in projects ranging from counseling abused women and children in the greater San Jose area to helping indigenous groups protect their cultural heritage in remote mountain villages. Individual volunteers and volunteer groups from Canada, Europe, and the United States are placed in homestay families and provided with cultural orientation, work support, training and background, and logistical support for their individual needs as they complete projects of their own design.

Our organization works to provide a clear context for volunteers as they fulfill their commitment to us. We offer a challenging and interesting orientation program and follow up throughout the time the volunteers are with us. The goal of this component is to motivate volunteers to continue their commitment to service after they leave Costa Rica in a more informed and meaningful way.

Executive Director Gail Nystrom founded the CRHF in 1997 (Cédula Jurídica Número 3-006-204046) and has guided the organization since its establishment. Although the CRHF continues to evolve and adapt, our original Core Values remain unchanged:

Innovation: We develop creative and unique solutions to real social problems.

Integrity: We adhere to unyielding standards of transparency, honesty, and accountability.

Cooperation: We team with individuals, groups, and organizations from all over the world to realize our vision.

Cost Efficiency: We provide cost-effective and economical solutions by minimizing administrative costs and maximizing the productivity of our volunteers.

Part of a group of volunteers pose with a group of students from the Montesorri school in La Carpio
Part of a group of volunteers pose with a group of students from the Montesorri school in La Carpio

Our dream of creating an organization that works ethically and economically to solve real problems for real people has been developed with great care and made possible thanks to the sacrifices and dedication of many. Over the years, we have been privileged to cause positive changes in the lives of thousands of people due to our combined efforts and creativity. Despite the many challenges that we have faced, we remain focused on our vision and committed to an unyielding standard of integrity and mutual respect. We have been strengthened by our work and are determined to continue growing and fulfilling our mandate. I would like to thank you for taking the time to learn more about our organization and express my heartfelt hope that you will join us. Thank you for sharing our dream.

Founder and Executive Director of the CRHF, Gail Nystrom, M.A. Ed.

Founder and Executive Director