Year End Report 2006

CEDULA JURIDICA: 3-006-204046.
Gail D.  Nystrom,MA Ed.
Executive Director
Apartado: 458 Santa Ana Centro,
San José, Costa Rica
Telefono: (506) 390-4192
Fax: (506) 282-7629

Year Report 2006

Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation

This wonderful year of 2006 flew by with hardly a blink of an eye. We are so proud and happy with all the programs we are now running and thank everyone for their support and caring.  Once again we have affected the lives of thousands of people through the giving of friendship, goods, services and small financing.


The Cabecars now have the swinging bridge over their often flooded river thanks to the generous donation of the Dutch embassy and  the steady dedication of Chris and John Thomas, the Country Day School fifth graders led by their teacher Mr. Michael Purpura and Julio Abarca.  This project was inaugurated in May and, since we came in under budget for the bridge, we were able to build a beautiful typical thatch roof ranch house and cultural center.  Here, visitors can view the crafts the women make, share cultural lessons with the women and eat a hearty and healthy lunch prepared by Dona Miriam who lives next door.

We continue to support Juan Sanchez and the Huetar group near San Jose, sending an average of two groups per month to visit his sacred temple. He continues to be helpful to us as well when we need a cleansing ritual or a helping hand with some of the people we work with when they are ill.

La Carpio

2006 was the year for La Carpio as we placed emphasis on completing the construction of the Las Brisas daycare center and upstairs community center and the La Libertad daycare and education center.  All furniture for these projects was donated by the British School of Costa Rica and the Country Day School community did a wonderful job  of collecting all the educational materials for both centers.  The Women’s Club donated the kitchen supplies for both projects.  Funding for construction was provided by Barry Schwartz and Holly Kaplan as well as individual and group volunteers for the Foundation.

After working to train seven women for the previous year, we were able to open our daycare center in May and worked with children from the community whose parents work and need a safe, healthy place to leave their children. We dreamed big with this daycare center and the women worked very hard to keep up to the standards of excellence that we set.  The Las Brisas is designed to be a small business enterprise for the women so that they earn a good portion of the funds needed through parent support. The Foundation provides the food, and covers stipends for the staff that the weekly $10 the parents pay cannot cover.

We also gave classes in English for most of the year as well as computer training for women and hosted a women’s support group presented by the Costa Rican government.

Housing in La Carpio this year included a round robin of purchasing a home for Josue and his family with help from the UCLA medical student group and moving the family that had been squatting on the site of the Brisas daycare site for eight years into their old house.  We then helped Alberto, the father, to set up his fruit and vegetable stand on the main road to the school so that he could support his family in a better way.  Josue became our assistant at the education center above the clinic for several months and rode his bicycle to work every day.

Our daycare center run by Mavis continues to care for local children.  She continued her studies and is now ready to start sixth grade next year. At the local public school, the McRoberts students provided educational activities for the children and a wonderful world map on the wall outside the lunchroom.

We continued to see an average of 25 patients daily in our clinic, developing a system for documenting and keeping track of the medicines and diagnoses through the help of volunteer Asa Tapley.   The UNIBE medical students continued with the project of interviewing families in the different sections of La Carpio.

We have several special cases we have worked with this year, and they have all shown remarkable progress:

Josue and his family were once again delighted to have the visit of Ashkan and his group from UCLA.  Their support and caring for these kids is so important to them.

Paula, the little girl in the wheelchair attended first grade all year long, but because of her many medical appointments and absences, did not pass the grade. We will work on this for next year!

Marvin is now talking and laughing and helping to keep our education center clean and orderly.

Auxiliadora, the mother of five our kids, moved into a new home and her kids are flourishing as a result.

With the support of Emma Keogh and her family, we moved Jackie, Xavier and their three adorable children over to La Promesa and got Jackie a job working at Casa Laurin Bed and Breakfast.  They stayed in Promesa for several months and began to realize that they really missed their families and homes and that they were not seeing us at all because we were nearly full time in La Carpio.  So, we recently helped them to move back to La Carpio. We will soon be purchasing them a lot in La Carpio and will work with our volunteer groups to build them a new beautiful home.

Our Carpio kid’s population got classes in health care this year, but we also emphasized more cultural activities.  With the help of professional photographer Dara Koberg, we put our “Eyes of a Photographer” program into effect by giving the local kids cameras. We have over 100 beautifully mounted photos with haiku poetry and exhibited this work at a big event at the school during the year.  Music classes were also provided to the children by our volunteer Lindsay and now we have a small chorus, recorder players and the start of some piano.  The kids were thrilled to be able to go to the National Theater and see the Nutcracker at Christmas time.  We also took two groups of kids to the Children’s Museum this year with the Lifeworks volunteers and a group of our girls started a Girl Scout exchange program with the Country Day School girls.

La California

With the hard work of the McMath students, we completed the furnishing of a beautiful new library for the school, with a lot of stimulating books and materials. The mural of a tree on the wall and the world map give a sense of warmth and joy to anyone who enters the room.  We provided weekly English classes to the sixth graders at the school for most of the year, preparing them for the ministry exams. Thanks to Ken Winnograde and his dedication for this activity.

The community itself was bulldozed down by the government and we tried to keep in touch with as many of the people as possible.  Five families were helped to open their bank accounts through a donation by Gary Kaplan so that they could apply for government funding to build their own homes. Another family was provided with food baskets and Christmas dinner.  Another family, who is now living in La Carpio, went with us to visit their old community.

La Promesa

Several of the women continue with their small business enterprises, but the biggest success this year was the tourism initiative. The women are divided into six group of six each and rotate to give a sociodrama, a typical dance, a snack, a spoken testimony and a tour of their community to visiting groups.  They have also successfully sold many of the crafts they have created with seeds, stones and shells.  Thanks to Emma Keogh for the initiative to start the jewelry making project!

The women also had a wonderful experience this year with our friend Lizl Flashenberg’s program “Through the Kitchen Door” in which women are trained to create healthy, low cost and delicious food.  Thanks to this initiative, one of the women already got a better job and our Foundation will be hiring the women to do the catering for volunteer groups this year.

School 2 Escuela

We worked diligently this year to provide educational enrichment through our volunteer groups to several schools in the area.  We especially worked with Lifeworks at a rural school west of Santa Ana helping to paint the school, put in a new fence and give art and English classes. Lifeworks also completely renovated a community center in the small community of Las Nubes.

Street kids

Life continues to ebb and flow for these wonderful kids.  Nela is still the star of everyone, continuing her progress. This year she ran the model education center in La Carpio nearly alone for two months while I was busy with the daycare centers.  She continued her studies and was able to pass all the exams except for math and science for ninth grade. This means she has only six more months of studying to do to finish high school…once she passes those last two exams.  Keyla is still growing and now has a wonderful life at her daycare center, being cared for by her mother and spending days and nights with her Tita (Gail)

Henry returned to Nicaragua and is working at a rice processing plant and living with his mother. Bismark is out of jail and is working and living happily at the southern Guanacaste beaches. Chi chi is also out of jail and living with his mother, looking for work.   Abram is now living on a farm and helping to milk cows and care for horses and is very happy.  The various boys in prison keep in touch with us regularly and we visit them about once a month.  Eric and Jason continue to live on the streets.

Puerto Viejo

The little school in Home Creek got a great new library this year thanks to the donation and support of the Overland groups. It was wonderful to see the furniture, books, educational materials and shelves put in this room. We continue to pay a stipend to a local woman for working at the library. Barry Schwartz once again pitched in with this project to help with the finishing touches of the building.

Street visitations

We visited people on the street all year, providing them with good plentiful food, thanks to the enthusiasm and support of the Roots and Shoots kids from Country Day School.

The drug treatment shelter for young men benefited from our full course Christmas dinner complete with flowers and candle light.  This year Keyla helped to serve the food.

Prison support program

We visited seven different prisons on a weekly basis all year and provided support for the youth there through food, soap, shampoo, toothcare, school and art supplies.  Nela has been in charge of this program and has done a wonderful job keeping the boys motivated and moving along.  Our work is based on the concept of body, mind, emotional and spiritual health.  We work with the kids in all those areas.

Playgrounds and Parks

With the support of the AAVE teen groups from CPI and the leadership coordination of Norma Calderon, we were able to make two community parks and playground this year.

Canasta Basica Program

We continued to provide basic food baskets all year long for hundreds of destitute families, mostly single women heads of household or youth living alone.

Medical Seminars, Checkups

Thanks to the help of the Common Ground Medical group and their host sponsor CPI language school and the UNIBE medical students, we were able to provide medical checkups to hundreds of people in all the underserved communities where we work. In addition, through their donation, we were able to start our reproductive health program and provided birth control to hundreds of women.


It seems that our organization grew exponentially this year. We now have three people running the clinic, two running the model education center, five at the Brisas daycare, five at the Libertad daycare, two administrative aids, two homestay coordinators, four coordinating the indigenous program and three helping in La Promesa.  These passionate and dedicated volunteers have been a blessing to everyone throughout the year.  We hope to soon have a women’s project coordinator and the all allusive volunteer coordinator.


This year we brought holiday cheer to a broad spectrum of communities we serve. We were donated a large quantity of presents, and hosted outings, parties and other celebrations for more than 700 kids and their families.  Barbara and Richard Nace showed their incredible generosity sponsoring the whole Promesa community with gifts, a Christmas dinner and a canasta basica for every family in the community.  The Newcomer’s group and CDS came forth with presents for the kids.

Final words:

The year gave us many lessons and many joys.  We were able to finish off everything well, but there were moments….I would especially like to thank my parents for their never ending patience and financial help for me personally.  Also, during the last half of the year, we were given use of a vehicle from Economy Rent a Car here in Costa Rica. Without this, we could not have continued our work. A million thanks to Hazel Munoz for this generous assistance.  When you come to Costa Rica, be sure to use this wonderful car rental agency…!

I also want to particularly thank our faithful monthly donors who have believed in our work for many years and whose small donations have made a huge difference in the lives of people we serve. This includes Mia and Ben Valdez, Maria Sabido and Joris Brinkerhoff and Walter Johnson.  Their monthly contributions make me able to help many people.

The words of inspiration for this year come from the Kennedys…since we were visited by Maria Shriver and her great children this year, we would like to honor them by remembering these prophetic and wise words by Robert Kennedy:

All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don’t. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity.

Few will have the greatnessto bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total; of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.

I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil.

It is not enough to understand, or to see clearly. The future will be shaped in the arena of human activity, by those willing to commit their minds and their bodies to the task.

Let us dedicate ourselvesto what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.

Only those who dare to failgreatly can ever achieve greatly.

Progress is a nice word.But change is its motivator. And change has its enemies.

There are those who look atthings the way they are, and ask why… I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?

On a final note, my own personal most precious moment this year was seeing my new grandson Matthias for the first time. It’s true what they say about grandchildren…they are like God’s second chance to do a better job at child rearing.

All of us here are enormously grateful to the more than 100 groups or individuals who donated to our cause and to the hundreds of volunteers who dedicated their time to make a big difference in this world.  Our hope is that we will all continue to put Kennedy’s words into action every day of our lives….