As with all our projects we try to anticipate needs. But..we also live in a place where what we think might happen doesnt. Like the time we were building a classroom and had to move a HUGE rock away. And we just did it. No fuss. A lot of sweat.
So..I went to Suretka where our building for the first indigenous library is complete. My goal was to set up the space for the materials we were donating. When I arrived I found quite a bit of construction debris so the school cleaning lady and two of the male staff swept and mopped and cleared out stuff. Then we brought in our boxes of materials.
You think this was easy!? It was sweat induced hot. The sweat was dripping off my nose. There was a great white table donated by Michael and Michaela..with the legs unscrewed for storage convenience. There was no phillips head screwdriver to be found. And no shelf on which to put the materials.
No problem you say? Just head over to the local ferreteria for 18 cement blocks and four wooden planks and a screwdriver. They offered me a huge fancy screwdriver for $10…I said…” I just need a little one”. and voila..they came up with a perfect teeny screwdriver for $1,50. Unfortunately they didn’t have one cement block or one wooden board. So, off I went on a hunt for these materials.
Thus..Giselle got to meet the neighbors. I found a place where a guy was cutting wood and he gave me four boards. and miraculously the school came up with 8 cement blocks and I had my shelves.
We brought life and color and learning to these kids.
Jeancarlos receiving keys and legal papers for the house we donated to his mother. She is then giving her house to her son and his wife Brenda. They have a baby son and Brenda will now be able to take custody of her two sisters since the house is bigger. A win win win
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.
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.
As I was driving out today, I came across what we call “the boyz on the corner”. They all remember me as the condom lady from years past when Common Ground worked with them on reproductive health care.
The thing is…today we had a normal conversation. They weren’t all edgey. we talked about the “gangs” of La Carpio and how they longed for more peace and less violence. And how great it could be if we organized an activity where we could all just sit down together…who knows. ? Maybe the time has come, I thought. Finally. Maybe.
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.
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.
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.
Yesterday we visited Oneida, mother of Osmani who is the 13 year old who is still in the hospital after being caught in a gun incident. Child welfare and police inspectors visited her house on Tuesday. They declared the house inadequate.
She is not allowed to talk to anyone for legal reasons. It is an active investigation . She has to move out of La Carpio. She spends her days and nights between staying in the hospital with Osmani, searching for food and taking care of her other kids. If child welfare makes a surprise visit and finds the kids without a caretaker they can take them all away and she will not be allowed to see them or know where they are.
Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation goes into action. We loaded her down with food. We will provide her with a child care person. And we will search for a home for her. Somehow we have to get her out of this nightmare. This is such a clear case of severe trauma coming at her from all directions.
Soccer coach Pedro has 150 youth under his care. He has been doing this for 15 years. He is the father substitute for all of them . He takes them to games, to outings, to get the food. He sets up their competitions with other leagues. He organizes training sessions. He gives them advice and counseling. He lives in the community and he is available 24/7. When they lose a game he consoles them. When they win he celebrates.
His philosophy is that it is not about the win. It is about the play. He has made La Carpio to be respected and not made fun of. Before and after every game he does a circle and prepares the team for what is to come. I think this is Love.
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