Success Stories from the Field #7 – The Saga of Yader

Some of you might remember Yader who came to us in 2018. Fleeing out the back door as the army burst into the front door looking for him. He has been a loyal, kind and conscientious workplace companion.

Last month, after a three month vetting process he legally entered into the US and wound up in Dallas. He was picked up in Dallas airport and dropped off at a studio apartment with an air mattress and some food.

And there he sat . No one came to see him. He ran out of food…he called us…our donor Howard got him some food via Uber(go figure). We began to investigate and suspected a scam. Things got really weird when he got an eviction notice.

So I sent out the word via Facebook and along came Claudia who was part of our peace group in October. She happens to live in Houston and was heading to Dallas the very next day to watch the eclipse.

She happens to speak fluent spanish because she happens to be of Mexican descent. She located Yader and got him all straightened out and then they watched the eclipse together.

He now has had his rent paid, gotten his healthcare card, permission to work and some cash . It seems that his caseworker had slipped up. Anyhow…it helps to have friend in High Places. As we say here ‘Gracias a Dios.’ His America dream is being realized.

A Time for Support and Mourning – ‘Lean on Me’

We shared our pain. This is Elsa. She has a fourteen year old daughter with severe cerebral palsy. While I was tending my father in his last days, Elsa came to my mind often.

As four of us turned my father to the other side, or gave him liquids to suck on a sponge, or caressed his forehead, or patted his back, or sang to him…I thought of Elsa who has been doing this all alone for 14 years for her daughter, in a one room place, often with no water.

Elsa has not gone out alone in all that time except to take her other kids to school. I don’t know how she has done it. But…yesterday she came to get her weekly basic food basket. I wanted her to know….that I now know.

And because my singing voice is cringeworthy, we put ‘Lean on Me‘ on the speaker and we stood back to back leaning on each other whole holding hands. I will never desert Elsa. Or any of the others.

I am in mourning one week, and feel like a turtle on its back. She has been in mourning for 14 years and loves her daughter ferociously. Her weekly food supply provided by donor Howard and our Automercado program is so much more than food. I get it.

Success Stories from the Field #6 – Eyes are the Windows to the World

Content warning – this post discusses suicidal feelings.’

Today, I was walking down the street and this gentleman calls out to me. ” Giselle, do you remember me?” I said” Your eyes”.

He gleefully answered…” six years ago your volunteer group of eye doctors found that I had cataracts. You took me to a clinic and I got treated and was able to see again.

Eye care specialist provide eyeglasses

What no one know at the time was that I was planning on taking my life by hanging myself. You saved my life”. Of course I got a little teary and pulled on the necklace I was wearing . (It had belonged to my mother). The string broke and tiny blue beads flew all over the street.

This man who once had been nearly blind and contemplated suicide, bent over and picked up ever single bead…even those that I couldn’t see because they were so teeny. He said” the hand of God is so with you. He is showing you this truth as I am able to see, find and pick up these little beads of your Mother.”

Indeed I saved his life…and…he taught me something I needed to know.

Yader Goes to Dallas

This is a very bittersweet day because it’s Yaders farewell, he’s on his way to Estados Unidos, to Dallas, TX. He’s gotten really good orientation from the International Organization for Migrants, from the UNHCR, and from the local government officials. He’s got all his documents in order.

It’s really hard because he’s really happy here, but he also knows that this is a unique opportunity, and he knows that he’s up for it and ready for it.

We gave him our best advice, you’re strong , you’re kind, you’re honest, you’re a good worker, you’re gonna find something really nice to do so that you can live in a fine place. And you’re gonna come back in your car and wave to all of us.

And then I proceeded to show him how to use the bathroom in an airport in an in an airplane since he doesn’t yet read, he can’t read the instructions.

So, we had quite the time just talking about how to take care of that issue. And then we also pantomime about take off your shoes, your belt, your things in your pocket, put it in the bin.

That’s as much as we can do. And all of us mothers were a little bit teary eyed because we remembered when we dropped our kids off the bus, the airport, the college, the wherever, the camp, it’s hard to leave your kids, it’s hard to see your kids go. And the love will never change.

El Centro de Amigos para la Paz

I had a good meeting with Luis and Marcela yesterday. The thing is, when you get three ticos together for a meet you have to first spend a lot of time reminiscing..better known as gossiping. We wound around the mulberry bush about when the house was built, what famous families lived there…etc.

Out came the old photo albums. And we found pictures of the founders. We even found the original founding papers of the Centro de Amigos para la Paz…CAP.

After consuming some tea and biscuits we got down to business. And did a walkabout the house. I must say I was impressed with how much care had gone into the maintenance of the rooms etc.

So… Karen and Olga joined us and somehow we wound up reconfiguring the whole main room. We unblocked the windows, reorganized the wall hangings and created spaces for different uses. The whole place lit up.

We are a mighty force. And it feels so right. Luis and Marcela were guardedly enthusiastic. But when they saw us actually DO something I think they were quite …astonished.

Anyhow…there is a lot to do. But..we work with resonance and strength and harmony. And so it is. Stay tuned. It is all enfolding as it should.

Happy Birthday to Alan

32 years old and still with us in spite of meeting death two years ago by falling out of a third story construction site. He literally fought for life and limb. He did lose part of his right leg…but saved his life.

We celebrated with a family lunch at KFC at a venue on the third floor. He sat by the window. Here is his wife, her 4 year old daughter and two sons and Alan’s son. Boy those kids can eat! We got a super mega bucket. They scarfed down everything but the very bones.

Zuly says she tells the kids..let’s go out to eat… so she cooks up some rice and beans and they put a blanket on the floor of their little balcony..and they are out to eat!

We pull up into the parking lot in my car and all tumble out…the old lady, the one legged man, the woman with an unusual face, the tiny girl, the very tall boy and the very thin boy. Just like a circus clown car.

After we eat we go to the outdoor park down below and play hide and seek. I won every time because I’m sneaky and always get to the home free tree first.

Success Stories From The Field #2 – Yader Goes North

He did it! Our collaborator Yader is a participant in the Biden administrations program. This program was created to pave the way for the political and economic refugees to enter legally into the United States.

This program included extensive phone and in person interviews, orientation sessions, Q & A activities, review by both UNHCR and US embassy personnel and…the all important diploma…his first ever.

I pray that America will treat this fine man with the respect he deserves. I kind of compare this to my entry into Costa Rica with the Peace Corps in 1977. It is a life changer.

He will be called to board the plane any day now.

ps the picture in the background was done by Danny, one of the street kids more than 20 years ago. It shows a hand pointing toward the full moon.

Success Stories From The Field – The Electric Saw Accident

One and a half years ago he was using a round electric saw and it somehow got out of control. He cut his foot and hand and was bleeding profusely. His family was in a panic…the clinic was a 30 minute walk away. No one they knew had a car. And suddenly there were dozens of little kids swarming around me. And my car. “Por favor.” “Please please take him to ….the clinic.”

So we drove up there and I hardly got there before he was fainting and losing a lot of blood. From the clinic he was given an ambulance and off he went.

I didn’t see him after that..until yesterday. And there he was with two hands and two feet. What was the first thing he said to me? ” I’m so sorry I got your car all full of blood”. Imagine that. I just said..”the blood got cleaned up. I’m just glad to see you alive. ” And he looked at me and said, ” without those minutes you gave me I would not be here.” We looked at each other and in my head I heard Bob Marley singing…is this love is this love is this love is this love..and so it is.

Please consider donating to our emergency relief funds so we can continue to provide assistance in emergency situations.

New Year 2024 Day 1 Celebration and Birthdays

What an amazing way to start the New Year! Volunteers Vicki Schwarz and her friends sponsored a fantastic New Year party in order to celebrate her and Dans birthdays and to teach children about healthy eating…

Doña Antonia came through with a delicious tomatoes-only spaghetti sauce with spiral noodles. the 50 kids got a glass of milk to drink along with it. The desert was a fresh fruit cup with some ice cream and a home baked cookie.

We had fun singing together and Adolfo gave his life story to the kids. He emphasized belief in yourself, never give up and accept help when needed. An extra bonus was Alcider also had his birthday.

Each child was given a lovingly wrapped present of a notebook crayons or colored pencil or clay. Three children got a special gift that was raffled off. Our Automercado food program supplied a yummy chocolate cake. As the kids left they all got a hug from all the volunteers and then we sat down to eat together. Because we were starving.

A few tears of joy were shed. What a loving way to spend a birthday and a beginning of a new year. Thanks to our amazing team who set up the room, gathered the children and made sure everything went smoothly. Thanks so much to the volunteers and their coordinator Vicki for their wonderful new year 2024 first day.

ps. this was a party created with love and higher consciousness to celebrate birth and new beginnings. And it was fun and stress free. Everyone had a part to play and we all got along great. Mutual respect and true caring. No power plays on this day.
True gratitude.

Family Volunteer Stories – Community Service and Vacations

El Tope Nacional

Yesterday our volunteer family of six..four kids and mom and dad…needed an activity. We found out it was the day of the “Tope de San Jose 2023” or the San Jose 2023 Horse Parade. And as a bonus, the starting was just two blocks away from their Peace Center Hostel. So we walked over there. It was amazing to be so near to all the horse energy

The animals were astoundingly beautiful and majestic. The relation between the horses and their riders was like something out of mythology. A perfect balance of strength. The women riders were calm and composed and definitely in charge of their horses. We saw ponies and horses who were so large you would need a ladder to get on them. And the tails and manes and feet of the horses were braided and intertwined with brightly colored satin ribbons.

There were over 2000 horses and riders. A virtual invasion of San Jose. Full of fierce and controlled strength. But.. cheerful and peaceful, as Costa Ricans should be.

But..don’t mess with them…As our national anthem says..if somebody tries to detain our glory, you will see our people rise up to protect our honor. These horses would make a formidable foe.

As an added bonus right on the corner where the horses walked by, we found a little restaurant called Cahuita. This is the name of the Caribbean village where the family will be staying for a few nights. So we sat in their window eating patti, patacones with guacamole, fried yucca, cheese squares and drinking frog water and lemonade while listening to Bob Marley sing ” Is this love is this love is this love”

Lost Fossils

And then…since I noticed that these folks were quite adventurous we took off to visit fossil land. This is a place I’ve been to years ago…where there is a crystal cave and fossils of ancient shellfish. 

We arrived at the place and were greeted by four very sweet and friendly “guard” dogs. And  no human to be found. It was eerily and deliciously intriguing, and a bit scary at the same time. 

We walked on rock roads and abandoned paths and  buildings. We discovered a  building where lye was produced, an abandoned soccer court, a decrepit water slide, remnants of a zip line, leaf  cutter ants, antlions, a sparkling clear stream filled with little  butterflies to wade in and..oh yes..fossils galore. 

Dad is a geologist and rock star..so he was in his element  explaining all the history of the rocks and fossils. This experience was like a return to childhood before cellphones and computers got in the way. We took delight in all the unexpected treasures we found. 

On the drive out we did find a guy who told us that they had stopped operations because of covid and the owner just passed away three months ago. What a hidden gem this place is. 

We then rode down the hill and dropped the family off at the bullfighting arena. 

What’s Next

Tomorrow we are off to the Cabecar indigenous reserve, port city Limon, Caribbean village Cahuita and jungle adventure Tortuguero. I think this family is having the vacation of a lifetime.


Instagram