Year end report 2021

2021 Year-End Report
CEDULA JURIDICA: 3-006-204046.
Gail D. Nystrom, MA Ed.
Executive Director
Apartado: 458 Santa Ana Centro,
San José, Costa Rica
Telefono: (506) 8390-4192

Annual Report 2021

As with most everyone in the world,  Covid 19 was the overriding topic of concern, discussion and care during this year.  Everyone we had contact with lived with hope, fear, anxiety and bewilderment.  Our kids made drawings of what they felt like during this year and we share them with you.   They expressed so eloquently what many of us were able to describe.

In loving memory of Michael Urena

However, be that as it may our organization continued to grow and flourish in all ways.  We are so fortunate to have a very dedicated group of collaborators who didn’t give in to this strange disease and kept all our programs running in a safe, respectful, legal and inspiring way.  We know that it was our “solidarity” with each other that kept us on the job every single day for the whole year.  If one of us felt distraught, the others would quickly step in to fill the hollow space – both for the community and for the person.  We were good role models for all the children and youth of the communities, never once taking off our masks or allowing others to do so. Daily hand washing has become the norm as has use of alcohol on the hands and disinfectant on surfaces.  We are glad to report that not one of our population became ill in a serious way. We had no hospitalizations and we maintained a good line of communication to keep track of each other.

We continued to use and refine our Spiral Model as we provided food, housing, health care, health education, education, training for small businesses and seed funding.  We recieved reugees fleeing from Nicaragua, especially in the last two months, taught children on a daily basis and provided food for 2,000 people a week.

None of this could have been remotely possible without our enthusiastic and loyal donors.  Gary Kaplan continued with his generous sponsorship of the two teachers and the soccer coach.  With the stipend they received, they were able to maintain a diginifiged standard of living. He also provided a monthly donation for director discretionary funds which we used to provide rent relief, medical care, home repairs and payment of operational costs.  On top of that, he made it possible to obtain three vehicles.  We found a very stable, reliable and strong car – a Hyundai Santa Fe for me to drive all over the country with to provide services for a variety of populaations.  Pedro and Marcos were able to  get a 16 passenger van so that they could help with food delivery and taxi passengers around.  Pedro went out nearly every day to get the food from Auto Mercado and trained with the youth in the afternoons.  Jeff Fisher continued to provide funds to us as he sold houses . He gave us a portion of the commission that he earned and we used these funds mainly too buy houses in La Carpio for single mothers.  Both Jeff and Gary are now part of our “adivsory board” for the Foundation as they give me good ideas about how to use and obtain more funds.  We also continue to get unconditional support from the Palmedo Foundation, the Epstein family Foundation, the Rocap family and Wells Mountain Initiative which is our fiscal support organization for the US tax exempt status.

Thanks to the payapl option, we have gotten many smaller donations – like a $10 monthly donation – to make sure that we continue to provide basic food baskets to nearly 100 families per week. 

Our teachers Melisa and Nela kept the education program going and actually expanded it.  We now have the English speaking program going on Friday and Saturday and are teaching to 30 adults and children. Our normal academic acativities continued all year for children from four to 16 years of age.  Teachers were given constant training and skills building sessions.

All our children got support for at home learning and a relationship of support was developed with the parents of the kids through creative use of wasap.  Everyone passed the Ministry of Education qualifying exams, some with 100%.  And, all the students passed to the next grade.  There was a marked improvement in basic Reading and math skills.

Coach Pedro continued to mentor, teach, discipline and care for over 130 boys and youth.  Now he has several boys in training with the local national teams.  They are constantly invivted to practice games with the private schools so that their students  can learn from the sports etiquette that the boys demonstrate.

Café Britt gave us a few purchase orders during the first part of the year so our seamstresses had a chance to earn some money. Then, Brenda Hicks taught the women to make masks for prevention of COVID and they were able to sell some of them.  Tesoro Tico provided a chance to sew some creative natural products. 

Special projects included the following:

The young mothers group for women who are single and are raising a baby on their own  Their weely lunches were a time for them to compare notes and to watch as each baby developed. 

The adolescent girls group to support girls as they go through the difficult stage of life that is confusng time of life in the best of times. In order to help them sort out the conflictsing feelings they somethimes have, they produced and presented a play that interweaves the life of Anne Frank Carpo during COVID and the lead charachter of the movie Pajaro de Fuego

Daily hot lunches for our collaborators

Special lunches  and activities to celebrate holidays

Weekly Trauma management sessions with the refugees including hot lunch for 48 weeks.  These sessions ended with a museum style exhibit and a bilingual book about the refugee experience.

My Book is My Friend program sponsored by Allen Stevenson School and their dynamic teacher Samarita who sponsored programs to raise funds for the children to receive book kits wth materials to interact with Reading.  We sponsoored Saturday sessions to learn about the lessons protrayed in the book.We produced and presented a play about the book

Continued support for people suffering with addiction problems as a result of childhood trauma.  We used the movie “Pajaro de Fuego” which we helped produce, as a motivator for a seminar about violence, gender relationship, drugs ,  and other topics that we have  to live with

Activities in nature at Finca Hope where the soccer boys, teen girls, refugees and women come to get away from la Carpio to have important contact with the trees, plants, pool and physical activities.  We also sheltered a refugee family in the newly renovated upstairs house.

In October, a new donor interested in our work appeared. His special interest is people who are in deep pain or suffering and we began to provide him with names and biographical information about some of our more difficult cases. Before we knew it, we were providing wheelchairs, food and help with immigration issues to many people. Howard Chudler has been an actively involved donor who loves to hear about and talk to people he has helped.  For my part, I am very relieved to know that I can provide real support in a concrete way to so many people.

Finally, as we communicated  in the 2020 report, we had received a generous donation from the Japanese people through their embassy. In the first year we completed the upgrade or construction of five clinics in the Cabecar indigenous área.  In this year 2021, we completed three aqueduct systems for three of the clinics and their surrounding communities.  This Project was complex and time consuming as we had to deal with climate challenges such as heavy rains and flooding, late delivery of materials, isolation without being able to access the áreas and cultural differences between indigenous, Japanese, Costa Rican government and CRHF.  In spite of all that the clinics are built, the water systems are installed and the financial reports are at the audit for final approval.  We are very grateful to the ADI, indigenous development association, the Japanese Embassy and the contractors who helped with all of this. 

We ended the year with a modified Christmas party, taking into account the limits on numbers of people who are allowed in a space but well organized by Natasha, Gary Kaplan’s assistant.  We had a great time and loved seeing the “superhéroes”  All dressed up and ready for a photo opportunity.

And, just as we beagn 2022 unfortunately, a group of thirty non indigenous people were jumping up and down on the bridge we had built in 2010 and had just upgraded this year and the bridge gave with the weight of so many people.  No one was seriously injured however, it was a big diasappointment to us because we had built it with such love and caring. Now, the people will have to wade aross the river as twenty years ago and emergency services will be affected.

Finally, our dear friend and community leader and coordinator of volunteers was attacked by a man with a machete because Leo was protecting the forest and the man wanted to use the land for cattle.  These kinds of disputes are not unusual here but Leo wound up seriously hurt in the hospital.  Fortunately, he is now recovered and out of danger.  We look forward to continuing our imiportant work wth him, as does he with us.  Leo has been acative every single day for the last two  years coordinating community projects and volunteer groups.

Thanks to all the many people who continued to send love and caring to all of us as we moved along in this strange time.  We feel strong and capable and ready for any hapepning and look forward to continuing next year.