The first project I am supporting is a small day care called Maria Aux in La Carpio, one of the poorest districts in Costa Rica. It is an hour bus ride from downtown San Jose and lies in a remote area built into a massive landfill.
I don’t usually like to take pictures of context or location, as I always feel like it fails to portray a lot of the essence of the place we are capturing. However, describing the area will be very challenging. A few images above will help you understand the context of the project.
The first one is of the kids at Maria Aux, and the next three are the alleys we walk through to reach Maria Aux. All of the children live in these houses you see on the left and right, or a bit further into the community. (I will take more pictures of the city – it is a bit challenging and not very safe to hold cameras or phones around – it might take a few days, but you will get some!)
Maria Aux uses the hall of a small church when it is free. Next to the church, they have an area (the size of a 20 ft container – this is the colored area in the photos) which they can call their own. There are 30 children that come to Maria Aux from 8:30 am to 12 pm every day, where they learn, play, and get lots of love from their director, Sylvia, and volunteers that come from all around the world. Our goal is to help Sylvia teach them about life and to keep them safe (in areas like these – when kids are not indoors keeping busy – they end up in trouble on the streets).
The first week I was there I helped 3 lovely volunteers, Olivia, Darcy, and Jillian, take care of the kids and learnt about the kids’ movements around the space to understand how best we can support in the reconstruction of the day care to suit their needs. I have added more pictures for you to get more acquainted with the project.
What is important for you to see is that there are ways for all of us to help wherever we go. I joined a team that volunteers in childcare, knowing there must be a way to help with what I know – and I found it. The other lovely volunteers did the same in ways that they know best. Some of the volunteers come for 1 week, others for 2 months. It all depends on the time you are able to give – no matter how much time you spend here – it will be very helpful. The important thing is what a good friend, Angela, told me the day I reached San Jose (as I was a bit worried about what I will be able to do in a place I know nothing about):
” Leave it better than when you came, and leave better than you came.” I hope I will, and I am more than confident you would too.