Our next ONEWAY service project will take place in December 2010 in the struggling neighborhood of La Carpio in Central Costa Rica. Anyone is welcome to join as a volunteer and we are actively seeking at least one health care professional to join us. Please see below for details.
Where: La Carpio and San Pedro de Poas, Costa Rica.
Like many impoverished communities in Central America, La Carpio and San Pedro de Poas are located on forgotten patches of land surrounding the capitol city. I like to think of La Carpio and San Pedro de Poas as the other side of the postcard in Costa Rica. They are not picturesque, but that does not mean they are not beautiful in its own right. I have listed links below so you can find out more about the area, but I think it is important to point out that the truth about these places is not often reflected in what you hear and read. La Carpio and San Pedro de Poas are made up of poor Costa Ricans and Nicaraguan immigrants that have little access to health services and education. One of the oft overlooked truths of Costa Rica is that the population at large writes off these areas as dangerous slums inhabited by criminals. The truth is that they are a colorful community of people who, like us, are trying to provide for their families.
More about La Carpio:
- A description by our partner organization the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation
- Envío Magazine article about La Carpio
- Inside Costa Rica article about La Carpio
December 11-19, 2010. These dates are Saturday to Sunday and there will be an orientation on December 12, but if necessary volunteers can arrive or depart on other dates depending on their schedule.
ONEWAY is partnering with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation, which is the grass roots development leader in the area. In fact, they are directly responsible for much of the progress that has been in the quality of life of La Carpio residents. Our mission is to offer the most necessary health and social services those that would otherwise go without. The CRHF will help us set up clinics and workshops as well as gather raw materials and oversee projects. Our goal is to make a significant increase in the quality of life of local families.
What will we do?
We will be working directly with the people, and sometimes right alongside them. Volunteers will be assembling and running free clinics to attend to the health and social needs of the area. We will pre-arrange provisional clinics that we can set-up in areas wher health care is scarce or non-existent. Examples of likely activities would be assisting the doctors, managing the clinic, working with children at schools or community centers, building homes and distributing materials such as beds and medicine. Of course, our overriding goal is to offer help where it is needed most so we will do our best to attend to the most immediate needs, whatever they may be.
What do I have to commit?
We will be there for a week, but you can volunteer for as much or as little as you would like.
Where do we stay?
Volunteers do not stay in La Carpio, but rather in comfortable and spacious homes in the nearby town of Santa Ana. Santa Ana is a lovely upper middle class town and you are likely to feel like one of the family.
Is it safe?
I have personally spent time in La Carpio working in the community with other volunteers and always felt safe and even welcomed by the locals. The people of La Carpio know the CRHF and respect the volunteers. It is important to note, however, that while it is unlikely that we will have any problems, we are traveling to an impoverished area in Latin America. Safety is not guaranteed whether we are in Costa Rica, Ohio or Afghanistan and volunteers should be aware of the risks wherever they go. To help ensure a positive experience, we will be there to help volunteers and we also have the staff of the CRHF to assist us as well.
How much does it cost and what is provided?
All costs go directly to the project and no money goes to the internal costs of ONEWAY. Remember, we offer fundraising tips to help volunteers share the cost with others that would like to contribute. The daily rate to participate is $100, which includes accommodation, three meals a day, transportation and all materials for the service projects. Often volunteers give a donation to the local organization after the program is over, but that is entirely up to you. You will also be responsible for arranging your own travel arrangements to and from Costa Rica. There are many flights to San Jose and finding one should be easy and fairly inexpensive. It should be noted that the daily cost is very inclusive and you will not likely be spending much money on incidentals. In the past, volunteers have raved about living with families, the great food and the ease of the experience overall. If there is downtime, we can even have a little adventure of our own to some of the numerous sights and tourist activities.
How can I join or find out more?
Please email us at email@example.com to ask questions or to join the service trip.
One final note:
We would love to have you along and I would like to share a quick note from my experience last year in La Carpio. I steeled myself for a rugged week of hard labor, uncomfortable living and long days in a slum. Fortunately, I had a great travel partner who reminded me to enjoy myself. The experience proved to be a week of living with a great family (we are still close), eating great food, working on meaningful projects, meeting wonderful people and having a great time–yes, I had a blast. Everyone’s experience is different, but I thought it important to point out that these type of trips often surprise you.