Tag Archives: Volunteer

El Centro de Amigos para la Paz

I had a good meeting with Luis and Marcela yesterday. The thing is, when you get three ticos together for a meet you have to first spend a lot of time reminiscing..better known as gossiping. We wound around the mulberry bush about when the house was built, what famous families lived there…etc.

Out came the old photo albums. And we found pictures of the founders. We even found the original founding papers of the Centro de Amigos para la Paz…CAP.

After consuming some tea and biscuits we got down to business. And did a walkabout the house. I must say I was impressed with how much care had gone into the maintenance of the rooms etc.

So… Karen and Olga joined us and somehow we wound up reconfiguring the whole main room. We unblocked the windows, reorganized the wall hangings and created spaces for different uses. The whole place lit up.

We are a mighty force. And it feels so right. Luis and Marcela were guardedly enthusiastic. But when they saw us actually DO something I think they were quite …astonished.

Anyhow…there is a lot to do. But..we work with resonance and strength and harmony. And so it is. Stay tuned. It is all enfolding as it should.

New Year 2024 Day 1 Celebration and Birthdays

What an amazing way to start the New Year! Volunteers Vicki Schwarz and her friends sponsored a fantastic New Year party in order to celebrate her and Dans birthdays and to teach children about healthy eating…

Doña Antonia came through with a delicious tomatoes-only spaghetti sauce with spiral noodles. the 50 kids got a glass of milk to drink along with it. The desert was a fresh fruit cup with some ice cream and a home baked cookie.

We had fun singing together and Adolfo gave his life story to the kids. He emphasized belief in yourself, never give up and accept help when needed. An extra bonus was Alcider also had his birthday.

Each child was given a lovingly wrapped present of a notebook crayons or colored pencil or clay. Three children got a special gift that was raffled off. Our Automercado food program supplied a yummy chocolate cake. As the kids left they all got a hug from all the volunteers and then we sat down to eat together. Because we were starving.

A few tears of joy were shed. What a loving way to spend a birthday and a beginning of a new year. Thanks to our amazing team who set up the room, gathered the children and made sure everything went smoothly. Thanks so much to the volunteers and their coordinator Vicki for their wonderful new year 2024 first day.

ps. this was a party created with love and higher consciousness to celebrate birth and new beginnings. And it was fun and stress free. Everyone had a part to play and we all got along great. Mutual respect and true caring. No power plays on this day.
True gratitude.

Family Volunteer Stories – Community Service and Vacations

El Tope Nacional

Yesterday our volunteer family of six..four kids and mom and dad…needed an activity. We found out it was the day of the “Tope de San Jose 2023” or the San Jose 2023 Horse Parade. And as a bonus, the starting was just two blocks away from their Peace Center Hostel. So we walked over there. It was amazing to be so near to all the horse energy

The animals were astoundingly beautiful and majestic. The relation between the horses and their riders was like something out of mythology. A perfect balance of strength. The women riders were calm and composed and definitely in charge of their horses. We saw ponies and horses who were so large you would need a ladder to get on them. And the tails and manes and feet of the horses were braided and intertwined with brightly colored satin ribbons.

There were over 2000 horses and riders. A virtual invasion of San Jose. Full of fierce and controlled strength. But.. cheerful and peaceful, as Costa Ricans should be.

But..don’t mess with them…As our national anthem says..if somebody tries to detain our glory, you will see our people rise up to protect our honor. These horses would make a formidable foe.

As an added bonus right on the corner where the horses walked by, we found a little restaurant called Cahuita. This is the name of the Caribbean village where the family will be staying for a few nights. So we sat in their window eating patti, patacones with guacamole, fried yucca, cheese squares and drinking frog water and lemonade while listening to Bob Marley sing ” Is this love is this love is this love”

Lost Fossils

And then…since I noticed that these folks were quite adventurous we took off to visit fossil land. This is a place I’ve been to years ago…where there is a crystal cave and fossils of ancient shellfish. 

We arrived at the place and were greeted by four very sweet and friendly “guard” dogs. And  no human to be found. It was eerily and deliciously intriguing, and a bit scary at the same time. 

We walked on rock roads and abandoned paths and  buildings. We discovered a  building where lye was produced, an abandoned soccer court, a decrepit water slide, remnants of a zip line, leaf  cutter ants, antlions, a sparkling clear stream filled with little  butterflies to wade in and..oh yes..fossils galore. 

Dad is a geologist and rock star..so he was in his element  explaining all the history of the rocks and fossils. This experience was like a return to childhood before cellphones and computers got in the way. We took delight in all the unexpected treasures we found. 

On the drive out we did find a guy who told us that they had stopped operations because of covid and the owner just passed away three months ago. What a hidden gem this place is. 

We then rode down the hill and dropped the family off at the bullfighting arena. 

What’s Next

Tomorrow we are off to the Cabecar indigenous reserve, port city Limon, Caribbean village Cahuita and jungle adventure Tortuguero. I think this family is having the vacation of a lifetime.


2023 CRHF Christmas Party – An Unforgettable Day

Some days are just meant to be unforgettable. Our donor Gary has given us a generous Christmas party for many years . But this time his assistant had an incredibly plucky idea…Let’s just take everyone to Parque de Diversiones – the national amusement park .

So.. with great trepidation and a pinch of hope we potted our scheme. The ever patient Katya who is our assistant began to make the list. And wound up checking it much more than twice. Our faithful teachers vetted every single person. And the meticulous Natasha took care of all the details having to do with the Park, payments and protocols.

Somehow – with help From above, we pulled it off. Nearly six hundred children and parents…who live near this financially unaccessible national amusement park, who pass by it on their way to and from anywhere, were able to enjoy a day of pure excitement and joy. They walked and rode and ate to their heart’s content. And, we didn’t lose anyone and no one got hurt.

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.

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.

Education

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

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.

Empowering Communities Through Partnerships: The Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation’s Work Against Hunger

A Lifeline from Surplus: The Automercado Partnership
In the relentless work against poverty, the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation has forged a crucial alliance with the Automercado supermarket chain. This section explores the daily routine of collecting surplus products and transforming them into basic food baskets for the community.

Nourishing Lives: Basic Food Baskets for Diverse Communities
Delving deeper into the impact of the Automercado partnership, this section highlights how the foundation’s outreach program reaches various segments of the community, providing nutritious food to the elderly, single mothers, disabled individuals, unemployed men, and refugees.

Small Business, Big Impact: Food Sustainable Livelihoods
Explore how the earnings generated from the modest sums paid by community members for the food baskets contribute to a sustainable small business enterprise. Learn how more than 50 individuals are supported, creating a positive economic cycle within the community.

Beyond Relief: A Holistic Approach to Poverty
This section emphasizes that the foundation’s efforts go beyond traditional humanitarian aid by promoting healthy eating habits. It introduces the educational sessions on making nutritious juices from rescued raw foods and the impact of these sessions on creating a healthier community.

Community Empowerment: Fostering Solidarity and Awareness
Highlight the foundation’s unique role in fostering a sense of community and solidarity through its programs. Explore how the hands-on educational approach empowers individuals to make better food choices and take responsibility for their well-being.

Sowing Seeds of Well-Being: Long-Term Impact
In conclusion, this section reflects on the lasting impact of the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation’s collaborative efforts. It emphasizes the foundation as a beacon of hope and showcases how sustained community engagement and empowerment can create enduring solutions to combat poverty.

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.