Over the 2014 summer I travelled to Costa Rica on a service, immersion, and recreational trip with 19 other kids my age. Along with attending Spanish Language classes to improve my Spanish, and flying through the zip lines of the rainforest, students engaged in two main community service projects.
The Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation was one organization we worked with. They are a non-profit organization dedicated to working with the most marginalized populations of Costa Rica. Our group entered one of the poorest towns in Costa Rica: La Carpio. La Carpio is a population mainly made up of refugees from Nicaragua who ran away from the brutal civil war going on there. Women who have children from multiple men often make their ways into Costa Rica’s La Carpio, and live lives that are better than what they had in Nicaragua, but as we observed, not nearly the quality of life that these good people deserve. Because of the economical situation in this Town, there is very little education, and this often leads to gangs who contaminate the town with graffiti and bad influences on children. We went into La Carpio and painted many houses and walls that were blanketed with graffiti. Often, the little children there were enthusiastic, and wanted to help. In addition, we read stories in Spanish to the children of La Carpio using a makeshift Library. This was all through the connections of the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation.
Flamingo beach is one of the most popular beaches in Costa Rica. The tourism and development in this area, however, has brought up economic and environmental challenges for the locals. We focused on a nice lady named Doña Carmen. She is a single mom with multiple children and grandchildren. She is very grateful that she has a job at a school across the street from her house as a custodian. However, because of the lack of available jobs, her sons can’t find any work, and she is supporting her entire family with her small salary. Something she has always wanted to do was to paint her house, but without the time and money she never got to it. Our group went and painted her house. This morally lifted her spirits and she was thrilled with the results. Along the way, there was a little local child named Josep. He had an old beat up soccer ball that he was playing with and enjoying. During our water breaks we would play with him and talk to him. We decided that he was very cute and it was very sad that he was using this ball – it was grey, the leather was all ripped off, and it was half flat. We went to the supermarket and gifted him with a new one. Although this was not technically part of the service, I fondly remember it and am glad that we could impact Josep’s life too – even if it was in a small way.
Eitan Darwish – Friends Student Class of 2017