Category Archives: Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation

Best Places to Go Costa Rica – Volunteer While Enjoying Paradise

We are publishing a series of 10 blog posts to highlight one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica, though volunteering with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation. This is a summary of the 10 posts we will be posting over the next few weeks. We hope you enjoy reading this while you serach for the best places to travel in Costa Rica.

Blog Post 1: “Discovering Costa Rica Through Volunteering: A Journey with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation”

Embark on a transformative journey through Costa Rica while making a meaningful difference with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation. Explore the country’s breathtaking landscapes and vibrant culture as you volunteer your time and skills to empower local communities. From teaching English to building sustainable infrastructure, discover the true essence of Pura Vida through service and connection.


Blog Post 2: “Making an Impact: Volunteering Opportunities with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation”

Unlock opportunities to create lasting change with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation. Whether you’re passionate about education, healthcare, or environmental conservation, there’s a volunteer program tailored to your interests and skills. Dive into hands-on projects, collaborate with local communities, and leave a legacy of hope and empowerment in the places you visit.


Blog Post 3: “Inspiring Change: Stories from Volunteers with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation”

Gain insight into the life-changing experiences of volunteers who have worked with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation. From teaching children in rural schools to building homes for families in need, hear firsthand accounts of the impact volunteers have made on communities across Costa Rica. Be inspired by their stories of compassion, resilience, and the power of collective action.


Blog Post 4: “A Day in the Life: Volunteering with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation”

Step into the shoes of a volunteer and experience a typical day with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation. From sunrise hikes through lush rainforests to afternoon sessions teaching English or constructing community infrastructure, each day is filled with meaningful activities that contribute to positive change. Discover the joy of service and immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of Costa Rican culture.


Blog Post 5: “Building Bridges: Connecting with Costa Rican Communities Through Volunteering”

Forge deep connections with local communities as you volunteer with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation. Through shared experiences and collaborative projects, break down barriers and build bridges of understanding and empathy. Whether you’re working side by side with community members or sharing meals and stories together, volunteering offers a unique opportunity to form lifelong bonds and create positive change.


Blog Post 6: “Empowering Futures: Education and Volunteering with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation”

Education is a powerful tool for empowerment, and with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation, you can make a difference in the lives of children and adults alike. Join efforts to improve access to quality education, teach essential skills, and ignite a passion for learning in communities throughout Costa Rica. Through education and volunteering, you can help shape brighter futures for generations to come.


Blog Post 7: “Sustainable Development: Environmental Conservation with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation”

Protecting Costa Rica’s natural beauty is certainly essential for the well-being of both its people and its ecosystems. Join hands with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation to participate in conservation projects that preserve biodiversity, restore habitats, and promote sustainable practices. From reforestation initiatives to wildlife enrichment programs, your efforts will contribute to a greener, healthier planet for future generations.


Blog Post 8: “Health and Wellness: Promoting Community Well-Being with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation”

Access to healthcare is a fundamental human right, and with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation, you can help improve the well-being of communities in need. Volunteer alongside medical professionals, participate in health education initiatives, and provide essential services to underserved populations. Together, we can work towards a healthier, happier Costa Rica for all.


Blog Post 9: “Cultural Immersion: Exploring Costa Rica Through Volunteering and Community Engagement”

Experience the rich tapestry of Costa Rican culture through immersive volunteer experiences with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation. From learning traditional dances to participating in local festivals, volunteering offers a unique opportunity to engage with the vibrant traditions and customs of Costa Rica. Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and flavors of Pura Vida as you make a meaningful impact on the communities you serve.


Blog Post 10: “Continuing the Journey: Sustainable Impact and Reflections on Volunteering with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation”

As your volunteer journey with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation comes to a close, take time to reflect on the impact you’ve made and the lessons you’ve learned. Celebrate the connections you’ve formed, the challenges you’ve overcome, and the lives you’ve touched along the way. And remember, your journey doesn’t end here—carry the spirit of service with you wherever you go, and continue to make a positive impact in the world, one community at a time.

Empowering Communities: Gail Nystrom and the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation

In the realm of humanitarian work, certain individuals shine as beacons of inspiration, dedicating their lives to uplifting communities and creating positive change. One such luminary is Gail Nystrom, whose impactful contributions through the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation have left an indelible mark on the lives of many.

The Genesis of a Visionary

Gail Nystrom’s journey into humanitarian work began with a profound realization – the power of community-driven initiatives to transform lives. In the late 1970s with the Peace Corps, she found herself in Costa Rica, where she witnessed the challenges faced by vulnerable populations. Undeterred by the enormity of the task, in 1997 Nystrom founded the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation, driven by a vision of creating sustainable solutions to alleviate poverty and improve living conditions.

Focused Initiatives for Lasting Impact

The foundation under Nystrom’s leadership has been instrumental in implementing a diverse range of initiatives aimed at addressing the root causes of poverty. From education and healthcare to housing and microenterprise development, each program is designed to empower individuals and communities, fostering a sense of self-reliance.

One standout project is the foundation’s commitment to education. Recognizing the transformative power of knowledge, Nystrom and her team have tirelessly worked to provide educational opportunities to those who might otherwise be left behind. Scholarships, health programs, school construction projects, food security and vocational training programs have become cornerstones of the foundation’s efforts, opening doors for countless individuals to build better futures for themselves and their families.

A Ripple Effect of Positive Change

Gail Nystrom’s holistic approach to humanitarian work has created a ripple effect, impacting not only the individuals directly served by the foundation but also the wider community. By fostering an environment of collaboration and inclusivity, the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation has become a catalyst for positive change, inspiring others to join the cause and contribute to the collective well-being.

Challenges and Triumphs

No journey of humanitarian work is without its challenges, and Nystrom’s path has been no exception. Economic uncertainties, logistical hurdles, and the ever-evolving landscape of social issues have tested the resilience of the foundation. However, it is precisely in overcoming these challenges that the true strength of Nystrom’s commitment and the foundation’s impact are revealed.

Triumphs, whether large or small, paint a vibrant picture of the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation’s success. Improved healthcare access, food sustainability, thriving local businesses, and empowered individuals breaking the cycle of poverty are testaments to the unwavering dedication of Nystrom and her team.

A Legacy of Compassion

As Gail Nystrom continues to lead the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation, her legacy is one of compassion, resilience, and positive change. The foundation stands as a beacon of hope, demonstrating that sustainable solutions and community-driven initiatives can create lasting impacts on the lives of those in need.

In a world often beset by challenges, Gail Nystrom’s story and the work of the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation serve as a testament to the profound difference one person can make. By empowering communities, fostering education, and addressing the root causes of poverty, Nystrom has not only changed lives but has set in motion a wave of transformation that will resonate for generations to come.

Why We Do This

We sang. We laughed. We Saw each other. Children of the Massai. Pure sweet innocence.

Some people ask me why I do this work…sometimes it is genuine curiosity or desire to know. Sometimes people don’t believe our stats. And some might just be jealous. Lately, I got challenged from someone calling me a failure because I didn’t recruit more volunteers. And someone unrelated hinted that I was doing it for “ego”.

Let me make one thing clear…There is absolutely NOTHING that you can say that I haven’t already turned over in my head…remember it has been 40 years to try one thing or another. I feel like I’ve been pretty well honed.

And then there are moments that just bring it all to my heart. I call them moments of grace when there is a glow in the air and I can hear the universe hum. And thats what happened yesterday… because 13 year old Osmani came home alive after 3 months in the hospital. The tears of joy were flowing…there is a mini mini, a mini, a 9 year old, an 11 year old, osmani and a 16 year old girl who wants to be a doctor. and an extremely dedicated mother who learned in the hospital how to bathe, dress, carry and help with the toilet for her son. But yesterday all the chorus was tears, “we missed you sooooo much” repeated over and over.

With our donor we paid the rent, gave them food baskets 3 days a week, got a full time caretaker so mom can go get some work. Got them a new stove top etc. They are set up. Tomorrow we will get the bathroom bathing chair.

And this is why..it doesn’t always work like this but as they say all the time with God’s help we are so grateful. At least we try. Only room for great humility here.

Africa Here I Come…

The tickets are bought and..I will be off to Kenya in two days!

In order to prepare I have been watching the Kenyan counterpart to CNN. I share this journey as our students and teachers have prepared letters for the people I will meet there. I have a LOT of people praying for my safe return. Me…I just want to make sure I get on the right planes at the right time for now. And that I hold my good health. And that I dont make some foolish cultural faux pas.

A Mother’s Continued Struggle

A mother, with her little baby she is breast feeding, and her oldest daughter who just earned her second degree in patient care. On her way to becoming a doctor. 16 years old…her 13 year old boy is in extreme screaming pain in the hospital after surgical intervention on which they “drained the liquid out of his médula”, she has to choose between staying in the hospital, caring for her other kids and going into witness protection. Which is required. We have provided food for her every day, paid for a woman to watch the kids, and given her the money for the moving truck. Also..our team has given her lunches and tracked down sacks for her to pack in. The ” plan ” of the OIJ is to take the kids in a van with her and her daughter out of the hospital in an ambulance and drive them all five hours away to a house at the edge of the highway in xxxxxx. An hour away from the nearest hospital, the nearest high school and five hours from the school where the daughter studies medicine. They will pay the rent for one f..ING month and then she is on her own. I’m trying to negotiate a house for her nearer to San Jose. I cannot imagine how her daughter will survive being bounced around in an ambulance four hours.

Names and locations omitted for protection.

Tax Exemption / Tributacion

It was a three hour interview. With two people from tributación. And guess what? They were delightful. Attentive. Respectful. Kind. Interested. And obviously they had read all the material I had given them.

As luck would have it…a delightful volunteer group of 25 Canadians had changed their schedule so the inspectors were even able to see our volunteer program in action. Truly and much to my surprise the whole experience was great. All our team was on alert and showed their love for our programs.

Our wish came true and we will continue to be eligible for tax exempt donations. The tributación people had read our documents with their hearts. We are all so grateful and happy. Coming next ..the formal written report. And next report period…2025.

Cafe Howie

This is our first day of “Cafe Howie” named after our donor. We have started small..the four table and chair sets that Alan refurbished. A lovely white linen tablecloth from donations. The sweet rose flower arrangements left over from the gala dinner. Fresh hot coffee. Vegetable health drink. Fresh fruit smoothie. Arroz con leche and atol made with fresh cow’s milk. Wonderful warm homemade sweet bread. And lively music.

This first week is free samples. Next week we will ask c1000 colones for any two products. Humble beginnings but…big dreams

Persistent Alan Carries On

Monday July 3rd, 2023

He’s off…to another round of treatment and operations. This is Alan who had one leg half amputated. But now the knee on the other leg needs work. But.. before.. take a look at this furniture he refurbished. With a donation of seven very used tables and 28 chairs he created a whole new look. He was working until they came to pick him up for his hospital stay.

Tuesday July 4th, 2023

We are happy to have Alan safely back at home after his surgery. He had a lot of fear to overcome because he had surgery in the same ICU that his mother died in. Talk about trauma triggered experience. He has great faith with which to face these situations. The 23rd Psalm has been especially relevant.

We have been providing him with essential goods and services through these difficult times. He is looking at months in a wheelchair….if anyone has an idea for a crafty project with wood for him please let us know. He knows all about painting, varnishing and carving.

Celebrating 25 Years – Love Grows

Many people talk about the epidemic of violence and hatred that is flooding our lands in the past few years.  They are horrified at yet another mass shooting or tiktok post urging people to take negative action.  One wonders where is the Good that used to be? How are we to combat this emotional virus that seems all around us?

One group of people committed to the ideals of empathy and compassion seem to have found an antidote to this illness through a systemitized effort that brings together a diverse group of people who believe in a dream. This dream is shared as people learn to show empathy – a heart mind connectio – and compassion – a heart soul connection that fearlessly performs Right Actions to make real change in the lives of many people.

On Sunday May 7, the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation or CRHF sponsored its 25th year anniversary with a gala event at the Hotel Marriott in Belen Costa Rica.

After months of preparation, the people of La Carpio displayed the products of their efforts to cure their barrio.

Crafts made by grandmothers, teens and indigenous, bunkbeds as part of a shelter program, basic food baskets, sports activities, educational packages, and much more were on display to that visitors could get an idea of how this organization works.

Our spiral model of development was represented by a large model created out of hula hoops and brightly colored ribbon.

Three theater productions were featured.  One with the grandmothers showing how a woman came to La Carpio after her difficult abusive relation.  Another presented by the teen girls linked the story of Anne Frank with Covid in Carpio and Ukraine.  The third presentation was by the men of our group and is designed to show how youth abuse affects men from Nicaragua.

The Hotel Marriott generously provided a wonderful meal served with all the formality of the day.  Surprised to see a fork AND a knife, AND a piece of cloth called a napkin, the members of our sport league Rescate took valiantly went at the cutting of the meat. Meanwhile, the little kids were thrilled to find a bathroom faucet with HOT water coming out,

To make the cultural exchange even more interesting, the guests were interested to see the modified Montessori program that the Foundation sponsors and to learn about our Street children rescue program.

Then the show began….

The “minis” of our Montessori program sang the song “We are the Flowers of the Garden” showcasing their delightful costumes as flowers, sun, rain, and earth.  Who could resist the site of little children wiggling and singing a song about nature’s rhythms?

The soccer boys and girls made a pageant of the song “We Are the Champions” complete with a mockup of the wonderful bus we had been donated.

Next, the group of elementary kids sang the song “Prendo una vela”.. l light a candle …to honor 12 of their chosen heroes.  The candle they held was in a hand painted bottle with a copy of a painting by Patricia Erickson called “The Moon is a Woman’s Thing”.  Each of the children then gifted a candle to the women in the audience.  The men were given a hand painted rock with the saying “Upon this rock my church will be built”.

Then, the whole group sang the song “You Raise Me Up” ending with the creation of a human pyramid as the kids raised their arms in gratitude to the audience.

To end the evening, one girl, Francini came out alone and sang our theme song..Love Grows..one by one…two by two…four by four.”  She was soon joined by the rest of the group of children from the La Libertad section of La Carpio who repeated the song and its hand movements.

And finally, everyone stood and sang the song together.

Love grows..one by one…two by two…four by four. Love grows round in a circle and comes back to you to knock on your front door.

My final words to everyone: 

I was I

And

You were you.

Now

I am you…

And you are me…

And

We are We

It was a sweet evening indeed.

Gail Nystrom

Founder and Director

Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation

We are very grateful for all the people who assisted and supported us in this very important event. We would also like to thank everyone who has supported us through the years and provided the resources to change the lives of thousands of the most vulnerable people in Costa Rica. We hope to have honored your support for our cause. Thank you for sharing our dream!

Proceeds from this activity will go toward:

Libros para todos program for the northern zone

A library program for, about and by indigenous in Suretka Talamanca

A Museum/Library in Amubri de Talamanca

Food baskets for La Carpio

Housing for la Carpio

Small businesses for single mothers heads of household