Tag Archives: Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation

#EdWed Educational Wednesday The Legacy of Maria Montessori: A Pioneer in Education

Maria Montessori was a visionary in the field of education, whose innovative methods transformed the way children learn and develop. Born on August 31, 1870, in Chiaravalle, Italy, Montessori broke through societal barriers to become one of the first female physicians in Italy and later, a globally renowned educator. Her legacy endures through the Montessori Method, an educational approach that emphasizes independence, hands-on learning, and respect for a child’s natural psychological development.

Early Life and Education

Montessori’s early life was marked by determination and resilience. At a time when women’s roles were largely confined to the domestic sphere, she pursued higher education with unwavering resolve. In 1896, she graduated from the University of Rome with a degree in medicine. She became one of the first women in Italy to do so. Her medical background provided a scientific foundation for her later work in education.

The Birth of the Montessori Method

Montessori’s journey into education began in 1907, when she opened the first “Casa dei Bambini” or “Children’s House” in the San Lorenzo district of Rome. Here, she applied her scientific observations of children to create an environment that nurtured their natural curiosity and love of learning. The Montessori Method was born from these observations, emphasizing self-directed activity, hands-on learning, and collaborative play.

Key principles of the Montessori Method include:

  • Child-Centered Learning: Montessori classrooms are designed to cater to the developmental needs and interests of each child. Children are free to choose activities that intrigue them, fostering a love of learning.
  • Prepared Environment: The classroom environment is meticulously arranged with materials that encourage exploration and discovery. This environment supports the child’s independence and ability to engage in meaningful work.
  • Mixed-Age Classrooms: Montessori classrooms typically group children of different ages together. This promotes peer learning, with older children serving as mentors and younger children finding inspiration in their peers.
  • Hands-On Learning: Montessori materials are tactile and concrete, helping children to understand abstract concepts through physical manipulation.

Global Impact and Recognition

Maria Montessori’s work gained international recognition, and by the 1920s, Montessori schools were established across Europe and North America. She traveled extensively, lecturing and training teachers in the Montessori Method. Despite facing political challenges, including the closure of many Montessori schools in Italy under Mussolini’s regime, her educational philosophy continued to spread worldwide.

Montessori’s impact extended beyond the classroom. She was a passionate advocate for peace and believed that education was the key to creating a more harmonious world. Her later works, such as “Education and Peace,” reflect her commitment to nurturing the whole child and fostering a global community based on mutual respect and understanding.

Lasting Legacy

Maria Montessori passed away on May 6, 1952, but her legacy lives on. Today, thousands of Montessori schools operate globally, from preschools to high schools, continuing to implement her innovative educational approach. The Montessori Method has influenced mainstream education. It has contributed to a greater understanding of child development and the importance of a child-centered approach to learning.

In conclusion, Maria Montessori was a pioneering educator whose work reshaped our understanding of how children learn. Her method, grounded in scientific observation and respect for the child, continues to inspire educators and parents around the world. As we look to the future of education, Montessori’s vision of nurturing independent, curious, and compassionate individuals remains as relevant as ever.

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.

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.

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.

Empowering Communities: Gail Nystrom and the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation

In the realm of humanitarian work, certain individuals shine as beacons of inspiration, dedicating their lives to uplifting communities and creating positive change. One such luminary is Gail Nystrom, whose impactful contributions through the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation have left an indelible mark on the lives of many.

The Genesis of a Visionary

Gail Nystrom’s journey into humanitarian work began with a profound realization – the power of community-driven initiatives to transform lives. In the late 1970s with the Peace Corps, she found herself in Costa Rica, where she witnessed the challenges faced by vulnerable populations. Undeterred by the enormity of the task, in 1997 Nystrom founded the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation, driven by a vision of creating sustainable solutions to alleviate poverty and improve living conditions.

Focused Initiatives for Lasting Impact

The foundation under Nystrom’s leadership has been instrumental in implementing a diverse range of initiatives aimed at addressing the root causes of poverty. From education and healthcare to housing and microenterprise development, each program is designed to empower individuals and communities, fostering a sense of self-reliance.

One standout project is the foundation’s commitment to education. Recognizing the transformative power of knowledge, Nystrom and her team have tirelessly worked to provide educational opportunities to those who might otherwise be left behind. Scholarships, health programs, school construction projects, food security and vocational training programs have become cornerstones of the foundation’s efforts, opening doors for countless individuals to build better futures for themselves and their families.

A Ripple Effect of Positive Change

Gail Nystrom’s holistic approach to humanitarian work has created a ripple effect, impacting not only the individuals directly served by the foundation but also the wider community. By fostering an environment of collaboration and inclusivity, the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation has become a catalyst for positive change, inspiring others to join the cause and contribute to the collective well-being.

Challenges and Triumphs

No journey of humanitarian work is without its challenges, and Nystrom’s path has been no exception. Economic uncertainties, logistical hurdles, and the ever-evolving landscape of social issues have tested the resilience of the foundation. However, it is precisely in overcoming these challenges that the true strength of Nystrom’s commitment and the foundation’s impact are revealed.

Triumphs, whether large or small, paint a vibrant picture of the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation’s success. Improved healthcare access, food sustainability, thriving local businesses, and empowered individuals breaking the cycle of poverty are testaments to the unwavering dedication of Nystrom and her team.

A Legacy of Compassion

As Gail Nystrom continues to lead the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation, her legacy is one of compassion, resilience, and positive change. The foundation stands as a beacon of hope, demonstrating that sustainable solutions and community-driven initiatives can create lasting impacts on the lives of those in need.

In a world often beset by challenges, Gail Nystrom’s story and the work of the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation serve as a testament to the profound difference one person can make. By empowering communities, fostering education, and addressing the root causes of poverty, Nystrom has not only changed lives but has set in motion a wave of transformation that will resonate for generations to come.

Costa Rica: A Paradise for Tourists and Volunteers Alike

Costa Rica, with its lush landscapes, pristine beaches, and rich biodiversity, has rightfully earned its place as a favorite tourist destination. This Central American gem not only captivates visitors with its natural beauty but also offers a unique opportunity for those seeking meaningful travel experiences through volunteering.

Pura Vida Lifestyle

Costa Rica is synonymous with the “Pura Vida” lifestyle, a phrase that encapsulates the country’s laid-back attitude and emphasis on enjoying life’s simple pleasures. Visitors are welcomed with open arms by the warm and friendly locals, making it a destination where the hospitality is as memorable as the scenery.

Breathtaking Natural Wonders

From the misty cloud forests of Monteverde to the pristine beaches of Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica boasts a diverse range of ecosystems. Travelers can explore volcanoes, hike through dense rainforests, and relax on golden sands—all within a relatively compact geographical area. The country’s commitment to conservation ensures that these natural wonders are preserved for future generations.

Adventures and Thrills

Thrill-seekers will find their paradise in Costa Rica. With activities like zip-lining through the treetops, whitewater rafting on raging rivers, and surfing along the Pacific coast, there’s no shortage of adrenaline-pumping adventures. The country’s topography provides the perfect backdrop for an array of exciting outdoor pursuits.

Wildlife Haven

Costa Rica is a biodiversity hotspot, home to a staggering variety of flora and fauna. Wildlife enthusiasts can spot howler monkeys, colorful toucans, and elusive jaguars in their natural habitats. The country’s commitment to sustainability ensures that ecotourism is not just a buzzword but a way of life.

Volunteering Opportunities

For those seeking a more immersive and purposeful experience, the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation offers ample opportunities for community service work. Engaging in community development projects, wildlife conservation efforts, or educational initiatives allows visitors to make a positive impact on the local communities and ecosystems.

Costa Rica has been a pioneer in sustainable tourism and conservation. The government’s dedication to protecting the environment has led to the establishment of numerous national parks and reserves. The CRHF contributes to these efforts by participating in eco-friendly activities and supporting businesses that prioritize sustainability.

Cultural Richness

Beyond its natural wonders, Costa Rica has a vibrant cultural scene. Visitors can explore charming towns, savor traditional cuisine, and partake in local festivals. The blend of indigenous, Spanish, and Afro-Caribbean influences adds depth to the cultural tapestry of the country.

In conclusion, Costa Rica’s appeal as a tourist destination goes far beyond its postcard-perfect landscapes. The combination of warm hospitality, diverse ecosystems, and opportunities for meaningful engagement through community service makes it a favorite among those seeking both relaxation and purpose in their travels. We invite you to join our initiative with the CRHF and provide support to the Costa Rican community. Whether you’re lounging on a sun-kissed beach or actively contributing to local initiatives, Costa Rica welcomes you with open arms and the promise of a truly enriching experience.

Aging, Care and Visibility

As usual my personal experience crosses over to my work with CRHF and vice versa. This past week I went to the US to help move my 93 year old Father into a smaller place with more care. He has lived for the past 8 years in this practically idyllic setting called Medford Leas. It is designed to accompany and support people as they age. Physically other worldly surrounded by streams forests, flower gardens and criss crossed with wide gently sleeping sidewalks for people walking independently, with canes, with scooters and wheelchairs. The level of care is carefully calibrated to ensure maximum independence. There is a cafeteria where residents can sit together and eat or take food home

There are two libraries. They have movie nights, game playing, music of all kinds, and a REALLY good lecture series. While there this time, we learned about Seabrook Farms where frozen vegetables were invented…and where Japanese people were living during the war. Everyone is super well dressed and friendly. And don’t even try to imagine the level of physical and mental health care. If you get a hangnail there is someone there to take care of it. Dad has issues with his feet because his heart doesn’t pump the blood enough. The doctors have been incredibly respectful and very human. There was talk of amputation which Dad soundly rejected. At one point he said I’m just going to stop taking all my meds..and the doctor said you will die within a month. Straight honest talk. But my sister researched and found an aparatos that massages and helps with blood flow. So Oopa, as he is known by hundreds of people here in Costa Rica and most of the family has now moved out of the apartment he lived in into a tiny, cozy space where he will be accompanied and cared for. What is the point of this very long post?

Because…I spent a week there. And everytime he needed something he got it…and more. He is living the time he has left living very protected. Which of course got me thinking about Don Luis who comes to our volunteer food program in la Carpio. He has chronic pain. No Access to medical care, lives alone, can’t work thus can’t pay rent etc etc. And of course I think

Does oopa’s life have more value than Don Luis? We can do more to de invisabilize people like Don Luis..and the many others like him. Shindler at the end of the movie said ” I could have done more””. My father has once again brought me to another level of awareness and motivated me to stretch. We can, and will, do more. Starting next week. When the elderly come for food, we will be giving them fresh fruit and vegetable drinks, light exercise classes, a listening heart, music and shared laughs. At least we can do that.

PS…I met the professor of a group of nursing students. They asked me for advice.,the words that came out were, when you are old your body doesn’t really matter to you…but it is the only thing that should matter.

Why We Do This

We sang. We laughed. We Saw each other. Children of the Massai. Pure sweet innocence.

Some people ask me why I do this work…sometimes it is genuine curiosity or desire to know. Sometimes people don’t believe our stats. And some might just be jealous. Lately, I got challenged from someone calling me a failure because I didn’t recruit more volunteers. And someone unrelated hinted that I was doing it for “ego”.

Let me make one thing clear…There is absolutely NOTHING that you can say that I haven’t already turned over in my head…remember it has been 40 years to try one thing or another. I feel like I’ve been pretty well honed.

And then there are moments that just bring it all to my heart. I call them moments of grace when there is a glow in the air and I can hear the universe hum. And thats what happened yesterday… because 13 year old Osmani came home alive after 3 months in the hospital. The tears of joy were flowing…there is a mini mini, a mini, a 9 year old, an 11 year old, osmani and a 16 year old girl who wants to be a doctor. and an extremely dedicated mother who learned in the hospital how to bathe, dress, carry and help with the toilet for her son. But yesterday all the chorus was tears, “we missed you sooooo much” repeated over and over.

With our donor we paid the rent, gave them food baskets 3 days a week, got a full time caretaker so mom can go get some work. Got them a new stove top etc. They are set up. Tomorrow we will get the bathroom bathing chair.

And this is why..it doesn’t always work like this but as they say all the time with God’s help we are so grateful. At least we try. Only room for great humility here.

The Boyz on the Corner

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.