Category Archives: Volunteers

New Home, Family Constellations

Building a concrete floor for the new house.

A woman was selling her house so she could return to Nicaragua. Our donor funded the $2500. Only in Carpio can you get a house that cheap. It is being upgraded by Geancarlos so his mother can move into it. She will then leave Geancarlos and his wife Brenda her house which is bigger. Child welfare will then return custody of her two sisters to Brenda. Their mother died after childbirth two years ago. Family constellations in poverty communities are so complex.

Preparing for 25 years

Creating something beautiful and impactful always has its challenges. We have done a lot of activities to give people a chance to showcase their work over the years. I’m glad to have had past experiences to keep me calm for this upcoming event at the Marriott; Sometimes I don’t know what possessed me to try this experience. But, here we are. The people are so serious and committed to creating a wonderful evening.

The montesori kids have to hold a candle..they practiced yesterday how to hold the candle with Reverence. They have worked so hard to create their visual display of their hero. And they are so attentive to our instructions about how to listen to the music to know when to turn around, when to hold the candle up, when to hold hands…Full attention to our instructions and giving ideas as well. The same with the minis. They are so excited to be dressed as flowers and sun and rain. They are learning that they ARE the flowers in the garden of life.

And the soccer boys…just amazing to see those big strong guys lifting their trophies into the air. The teachers and the Auto Mercado staff and the former street . kids are all preparing their displays to showcase the work they do day in and day out. The grandmothers are practicing their play and creating handcrafts. The teen girls have revamped the scenery for their play and it is so impactful. Harold is creating a scary looking airplane for the scene about Ukrania. We will be making a bus as well. The two French volunteers are hard at work making a giant spiral out of hula hoops. And Katya is busy at the computer creating all the pamphlets and publicity and lists and instructions.

And the indigenous are coming in all the way from Talamanca with their crafts and their necessary presence.

I have a lot of errands to run to keep everyone supplied with what they need. No matter what happens, they will all have the satisfaction of knowing that they have worked hard as a team to create something epic. It won’t be perfect but it will be heartfelt. I doubt I’ll make it through without crying…not for sad, but for happy.

“love grows one by one two by two….four by four…love grows…round in a circle…comes back to …you and knocks at your front door”

CRHF 25 year celebration

It is our honor and privilege to invite you to share in the celebration of 25 years since the establishment of the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation. We have been working tirelessly since 1997 to find creative and realistic solutions to complex challenges related to situations of poverty and inequality.

We will provide an evening of gratitude for all the people who have supported, served and received services through the efforts of the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation.

What’s it like to visit CRHF in La Carpio?


First, you will be greeted at the street as your bus or car drives up. We accompany you up the stairs and our team will be on hand to greet you in our center. A short tour of the place ensues with explanation of each room, its role and its importance. Sewing and creative room, office and storage of tools and dry goods, reception area where thirty families per day await the arrival of food from Auto Mercado, Fruit and vegetable distribution area, kitchen where hot meals are prepared every day, bathroom, lunch room, english classroom, model Montessori classroom, library, elementary classroom. When we started the space was just one vast area dedicated to provide space for a church. Each of these areas is now furnished with donated items and lovingly cared for.

Next, we will sit together and I will share a bit about our spiral model of development and how it applies to our daily work. Lately I have also been sharing with volunteers about their experience with COVID and now, more school shootings.

Service Field Visit

After this, we take a break, making sure everyone has water and head off to our designated project site. During the walk, we greet people and talk to them so they can tell their stories. We also tell the stories of the houses because we know who has lived there from 25 years ago! Projects include a hands on light construction project like painting the walls of every house in a particular sector, or making bunk beds for families, or distributing plants or even setting a big blanket on the ground and doing art with a sector of children.

Lunch Break

After about 2 hours, we will walk back to our main Montessori center where a delicious, healthy buffet meal will be waiting. We include a protein, green salad, fresh fruits, vegetables, rice, bread and a drink. As we are eating, the teen girls and grandmothers are setting up their crafts fair so we encourage everyone to wander around in order to see what souvenirs they would like to buy. These two groups run their own small business and the Foundation leaves the pricing and administration of the crafts up to their creators.


While you are wandering, we are reconfiguring the classroom into a theater venue and voila…when you finish with your purchases, you return to the “theater” and one of our five productions will be presented. These plays are true stories about issues we deal with either in La Carpio or the world. They are all interactive and the audience gets to become part of our story. We then have a round table discussion with the actors followed by a short debrief with me.

Finally, as a tribute and a thank you to all our guests, we present everyone with a symbolic gift made by one of our grandmothers.If you are here for longer we have projects that are more complex and more time to spend with the beautiful, open hearted children of one of our three centers.

Your bus will pick you up right in front of our building and, safe and sound, you will be on your way.

What is the purpose of your visit?

First, we are proud of what we have accomplished thanks to all of you. We want to share our experiences and show you how we are all so equal dealing with the same human difficulties. We love to talk to you…in spite of some language differences. However, the kids have gotten over their shyness of volunteers and eagerly await the chance to practice their English and to be part of your project – helping to paint walls, install bunkbeds, mix cement, paint a mural.

Second, our medium term goal is to educate the children with the reading of interesting and informative books.We want to promote a population of readers. Most of the kids don’t have computers in their houses but are adept at using their phone. However….research is beginning to show that too much tik tok may not be so good after all. We want the children to find joy and enchantment in the act of reading.Our final goal which is long term, is for you to go away with hope, joy and commitment to the cause of easing suffering and not being afraid to try. There are so many things you can do right in your own neighborhood/country to make life better.

Also, we want to show everyone that this neighborhood called La Carpio is not the drug infested, violent place that it is often portrayed as in the press. it is a place of families and community that shares their victories and sorrows and sticks together.

If you would like to program a visit – it is NOT a tour – please give us a call or click here for more information on our volunteer programs.

Thank you

End of Year Teatro Expresivo

Pedro and Gail take some of the kids to el “Teatro Espressivo”.

Our end of year activities included a visit to Teatro Expresivo to see the delightful play ” A Christmas Carol” adapted to Costa Rican culture. Our chosen kids, who all got highest grades, laughed and got somber at the antics of the actors. Afterwards we treated them to a Cafe Britt hot chocolate and cookie. We are so grateful to Britt for making this activity possible for our population. La Carpio presente. In the front row….interacting with the actors on stage.

Alan Support

I dont usually ask this…but here is Alan. One year ago he fell from three stories in a construction site. He has fought all year to heal his broken legs successfully. But..he is back in the hospital with a high temperature of unknown origin. They are doing tests but if he doesnt improve he will go into icu. Where his mother died just two weeks ago. He has a rock solid relationship with an amazingly compassionate and kind woman, a sweet ten year old biological son and an adorable 4 year old stepdaughter. He has everything to live for. I am reciting psalm 23 to him whenever he calls me. I hope that the Lord is a good shepherd to Alan. I ask that people of faith hold him in their prayers.

Peace Pilgrim

Peace Pilgrim continues her pilgrimage.

Three weeks ago, there was some news rumblings that President Trump was going to attack North Korea with a nuclear or at least, big bomb. Someone emailed me and said, “World War III has begun”.

What does one do in the face of imminent world war? I decided to go to the University for Peace…the place where Costa Rica tries to educate future peace leaders. And, there is a monument there to many well known Costa Rican Peace makers. And, supposedly, somewhere there, a monument to the Peace Pilgrim, an older woman who walked 25,000 miles thought the US for years, talking to small groups, individuals and fellow travellers about peace and its importance. I had recently learned about her mission and her message and was quite taken with it.

I asked around, “Where is Peace Pilgrim” . Everyone just kind of shrugged and responded with great ambivalence. This is not possible, I thought. How can there be all these great statues to a lot of people, but the Peace PIlgrim, whose $18000 statue had been placed here over 17 years ago was missing Many people had sacrificed and worked hard to raise the money and make the ceremony for the installation of the statue under a huge Guanacaste tree in the park of the university.

Finally, I found an older caretaker of the property who told me that the statue had been taken down and for the last THREE years, it was in a storage área. How is this possible? A Peace Pilgrim who worked for peace relagated to a stoarge área for three years .

After some more investigative work and the collaboration of the groundskeepers I finally found her. Indeed. Stuck in a storage shed along with piles of old chairs and desks and the grounds lawnmower. When I saw her in the dark of the shed, it took my breath away. She was just standing there, abandoned. And her arms were broken off. And here she had been for three years. At the University of PEACE for heaven’s sake.

I decided that this could not be and that it was necessary to get her out of there. A few phone calls, a lot of friendly banter with the keeper of the keys and last Friday we went at 8 am with a group of four very good friends from Piedades to pick up Peace. She is a small person, but when made out of bronze we are talking about a lot of weight. When they opened the door to the shed, once again, I felt so mournful to see someone who dedicated so much of her life to peace and peaceful messages stuck in this place.

The lawnmower was removed, the pickup truck backed into place and seven men so gently and good naturedly picked her up and placed her in the back of the truck laying her down on a thick quilt I had brought.

The guard opened the gate and magically we were allowed out of the grounds with the statue.Off we went on our journey though Little villages to take Peace to a temporary home to be fixed up while we look for a more permanent site for her.

You see, she was a teacher, giving lessons to children and adults alike about the message of peace. Something that seems to be missing in the environmnet of today. Good.

We got her to the home in the mountains where we were told she could stay. But, the owner of the home took one look at her laying in the back of that pickup truck and said, “She looks so scary”. And indeed she did – dark and armless and with stains on her head and face. And since she is a statue she had those eyes without eyeballs that a statue is has.

I began to walk around the front of the house. There was a large and long staircase and no way were only four men going to be able to take her up the stairs.

And then, right before my eyes, right in front of the house I saw this Little protected ares. A concrete slab with plants all around it. Flowers, Green ferns, and even a Little palm tree exactly the same size as Peace. Right next to the truck.

This is the place I said, She needs to be here, in the sun, surrounded by plants and growng things, welcoming people to this house. And, the owner of the house said, this is symbolic. Peace seems to be broken and fractured now and the Peace Pilgrim comes here with no arms.

We are her arms, I told her. We are the ones to do the work now that she left behind. The presence of this statue is going to bring great blessings on your house. She can heal here and you will be part of that.

When she is better, we will take her to her permanent home.

In tears, I watched as the men set the statue gently on the concrete, made sure she balanced. And I felt as if Peace herself was so grateful and relieved to be out of that storage shed.

It was as if this statue were a symbol of so many things that are not right in 2017. The times we live in. Women and their wisdom has been relegated to the dark hidden places and locked up. Older women are placed in lonely nursing homes where they sit in wheelchairs in the hallway waiting. Waiting. The valuable contributions of the elderly are ignored or mocked and not honored. Life goes on. But in what direction? Where are we headed now?

And suddenly I thought…this could be why I’ve been feeling so melonchaly lately.

The sense of impending doom from the political scene. The failure of a peace institution to care for one of its spokespeople. The sadness of the aging process and the battle to stay pertinent and active. Who are our models for this part of the human experience? How many wise and gentle people like Peace are being put away and forgotten, their lives not mattering and their accumulated experience not honored?

Yes, this statue for me was political and personal historical and epic. She is a symbol of so much that could be right in our human condition and is not right as we are living it now.

I plan to work on a teaching curriculum about this fine lady and when we place her in her permanent home, we will give classes about her message and her life. The rising up, as at Easter, of the spirit in a way that can be seen by many

Visit To Costa Rica

This was a wonderful group of young student volunteers from Montreal  who the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation hosted during their service time. They visited Costa Rica to learn more about the culture and leave a positive impact. They were able to build walls in La Carpio, replacing the old corrugated tin “walls”. They also visited several important landmarks including the volcano and coffee tour. Below is a slideshow created by the leaders Ellen Madoff and Earl Rubin. We thank them very much for creating this wonderful memory of their trip to Costa Rica. We were glad to learn the students enjoyed their time here and maybe more importantly: “the people of this very special community have left a lasting impression on these 28 Canadians!”

Bialik Costa Rica 2017 por globalwide-productions