Category Archives: Peace

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.

Building Peace: Costa Rica’s Approach To National Security Without An Army

How does a country with no army protect itself from invasion? From a neighboring country, from drugs traffickers. From gangs. From gun violence. From any other disturbing situation?

Our president AND his advisors have cooked up a plan. First and foremost. Strengthen the education system. Second reinforce pride in the country through unified celebration of national holidays. A small gesture..renovate the school uniform rules. And then, introduce the word sovereignty to the national vocabulary.

A firm unified and led concept. Like when mom and dad sit the wayward child down for a talk. Clear rules and expectations. Coupled with ,”we know you can do it”. Attention and praise for small improvement and consistent steady encouragement.

Then…hire 300 more well trained police and publish videos of them together at an induction ceremony. Not to threaten or be aggressive but to REMIND. We are here. Standing firm. Tighten up consequences for small infractions like speeding or running a traffic sign. Align the judicial system, with the police system, with an attitude of restorative justice. Use the press to keep communication open.

And I’ll tell you what we don’t do. We don’t all walk around carrying guns. We don’t lose our daily courtesy. We don’t forget to greet each other no matter what soccer team you are rooting for. And when we discover a bully or a grooming or a cyber danger our government and ngo system step in to educate and support the situation.

Costa Rica is still far from the country it dreams of becoming but it certainly is way beyond the hatred and it’s consequences found in other sadly suffering parts of the world. We are blessed because we have strong and wise leadership. And we know our children will not have to go to war. We believe in ourselves.

Reuniting in Plaza de la Democracia: Liberation, Family and Unexpected Celebrations

The day of the commemoration liberation from the army we were standing in the Democracy Plaza. Waiting. Someone said…look, there is the president and they are filming him. Of course we had to go and cureosiar. Sure enough. There was a film crew filming a president…But it was an actor look alike of President Figueres…doing a reenactment of the speech had dismantling the army.

BUT we were there for another mission. We were waiting for volunteer Julie, who had arrived just a week ago, to meet for the first time since she was nine months old, her very alive mother. It “only” took a few days to find Julie’s long lost family and there we were.  Waiting. Suddenly, we saw them mother, brother, sister and two delightful nephews walking toward us. Then there were hugs as they found each other again. Tears flowed and there was a kind of peace in the air. A relief and a calm.

Then we gathered ourselves to walk across the street to a local restaurant that had been tipped off about this life changing event. The Calypso band asked ” what song shall we play?’ and all we could think of was “happy birthday to you”. So there it was…and the whole restaurants broke into applause. A great meal, profound conversation and wonderful little drawings by the two little kids as a gift for “tia”. And all this transpired right there in the Democracy Plaza. Where years ago an army leader took a sledge hammer to a fortress wall forever changing the destiny of all Costa Rican children. Even the adopted ones.It was a good day.

A Legacy of Peace on the Day of Abolition

In the heart of Central America lies Costa Rica, a nation known not only for its breathtaking landscapes but also for its commitment to peace and humanitarian efforts. One significant milestone in Costa Rica’s history is the abolition of its military on December 1, 1948. On the occasion of this historic day, let’s delve into the remarkable work of the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation, an organization that has played a pivotal role in maintaining the country’s dedication to peace.


Founded on the principles of non-violence, the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation’s Peace mission is concomitant with the countries decision to abolish the military. With the belief that resources traditionally allocated to the military could be better utilized for the well-being of the population, the foundation set out to create a society focused on education, healthcare, and social welfare.


One of the key pillars of the foundation’s work is education. By investing in schools and promoting access to quality education, they aim to empower the youth, providing them with the tools to shape a prosperous and peaceful future. Scholarships, vocational training programs, and community outreach initiatives have become cornerstones of the foundation’s education-focused endeavors.


Healthcare is another critical aspect of the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation’s mission. Through the establishment of medical clinics and outreach programs, the organization ensures that healthcare services are accessible to all citizens. This commitment to the well-being of the population reflects Costa Rica’s belief that a healthy nation is a strong nation.

Social Welfare

The foundation’s involvement in social welfare extends to addressing poverty and inequality. By supporting community development projects, providing housing assistance, and fostering entrepreneurship, the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation strives to create an inclusive society where every individual has the opportunity to thrive.

As we celebrate the day when Costa Rica made the bold decision to abolish its military, it’s essential to recognize the ongoing efforts of organizations like the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation. Their dedication to building a nation founded on the principles of peace, equality, and social justice is a testament to the enduring spirit of Costa Rica. Through education, healthcare, and social welfare initiatives, the foundation continues to shape a brighter future for the people of this remarkable country.

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