Tag Archives: Non-profit

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.

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.

Success Stories From The Field #2 – Yader Goes North

He did it! Our collaborator Yader is a participant in the Biden administrations program. This program was created to pave the way for the political and economic refugees to enter legally into the United States.

This program included extensive phone and in person interviews, orientation sessions, Q & A activities, review by both UNHCR and US embassy personnel and…the all important diploma…his first ever.

I pray that America will treat this fine man with the respect he deserves. I kind of compare this to my entry into Costa Rica with the Peace Corps in 1977. It is a life changer.

He will be called to board the plane any day now.

ps the picture in the background was done by Danny, one of the street kids more than 20 years ago. It shows a hand pointing toward the full moon.

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.

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.

New Home, Family Constellations

Building a concrete floor for the new house.

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.