All posts by Gail Nystrom

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, through 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.

Alcides Goes Home

And yet another of our collaborators is heading off. This time it is Alcides going home to Nicaragua to see his ill mother and his graduating son. I see him so strong and healthy and well dressed and confident. So much thanks to our gracious benefactor Howard, who believed in him. Well done to all of us.

It’s just like sending your children out into the world…it is sad, exciting, scary and very pride filled . Elvis, Bismark, Henry, Yader, each has his story and each has grown so healthy under our caring watch.

Go well my friend.

Centro Modelo and Volunteers’ Farewell

The volunteers’ farewell… All I can think of when I enter our Centro Modelo classroom is the classic children’s song ” Los pollitos dicen pio pio pio cuando tienen hambre cuando tienen frio.” The little chickies say peep peep peep when they are hungry when they are cold.

With their little yellow shirts they do look just like a flock of baby chick’s. They are in constant motion, interacting with each other, curious about everything and absorbing everything in their environment.

We have some good parenting going on too. All the kids are neatly dressed. Freshly bathed and combed. And each one has their own little set of plate, cup and fork and spoon.

Here, they are celebrating the farewell party for our two volunteers, Ali and Quincy. I was so happy to see the delicious and enticing fruit feast prepared by the parents. Each child got to choose the fruits they wanted and amazingly not one plate was empty after snack time.

I felt these kid’s hunger to learn and to creatively seek activities. Their tenderness was so moving. Teacher Marisol is giving these children a wonderful transition from home to the beginnings of school life. We will really miss the kind assistance of the two volunteers. And I’m pretty sure they will miss CRHF too.

Juegos Indígenas – Indigenous Games 2024 Costa Rica

In keeping with our longstanding commitment to indigenous populations, we are sponsoring the initiative of Gamaniel Molina Diaz to co-host the Indigenous Games.

This two day festival and competition invites over 200 indigenous of all ages to try their hand at traditional activities in brotherly competition. There will be bows and arrows, chopping wood, blow guns, rope pulling and others. In addition, the women’s association Kabata Konana will prepare meals all the competitors for the two days.

Visitors from around the world have been invited to participate . Traditional food will be available as will many handmade crafts. The opening and closing ceremonies will be presented by the elders of the community complete with storytelling and ancient chants.

Thanks to the generous donation of the Little Theater Group, CRHF is overseeing the food and housing arrangements for the 200 athletes. The local indigenous women’s group will handle all the preparation of three roasted pigs, local fruits and vegetables, hearty breakfast and comfortable sleeping arrangements.

We thank Supermarket Avenida 10 and their manager Laura Castillo, Florida Ice and Farm for donating water, Barguil mattress company, and Esteban Aguilar for supplying eggs.

Barry and his wife of Pura Vida Hotel have coordinated the visitor invitations, the Ark Botanical Farm and Restaurant provided the video and ARCR, through Martha Rollins is supporting with cash donations.

This will be an epic event and we hope it will be the precursor to the expanded Indigenous International Olympics 2025.

Click Here for the Video

📞Contactos: Gama 8877-0228 o Berni (solo habla inglés) 8701-3411 or CRHF WhatsApp or Cel +(506) 8837-5205

https://www.puravidahotel.com/activities-and-tours/indigenous-games.html

Please consider donating to the CRHF to continue its support of indigenous communities.

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.