Pura Vida! What an inspiring trip this team of 9 volunteers experienced in Costa Rica. The group completed five major projects at two different schools creating sustainable change that will last a lifetime.

The first three full days were spent volunteering at the Sarapiqui Conservation Learning Center where the group worked hard through the pouring rain in the mornings and the heat of the sun in the afternoon.

Prior to our visit the Learning Center purchased several desks and chairs for the kids. Project Kids Network spent a day painting these desks and chairs giving the frames a protective coat that will prevent the wood from deteriorating over time.

Growth is inevitable at any school and such is the case at the Learning Center. Project Kids Network helped build an additional classroom to encourage expanded growth. The volunteers mixed and poured a concrete floor and plastered the exterior with cement. The team also performed improvements in the director’s office pouring a concrete slab outside of the doorway and digging a hole for a new water tank. Our team worked hard on this project stopping only for a few moments to enjoy a Costa Rican Coca-Cola and an ice cream treat served in a small plastic bag.

While some were hard at work in the classroom, the rest of the team worked in the field planting strands of grass for the future home of the children’s soccer field. The morning rain made the soil a little easier to dig. Our ponchos indeed came in handy for this project! At the end of the day, after school was out of session, the children went home, put on their work clothes and returned to the school to help us with this project. Side-by-side we planted grass together. Oh, what motivation they provided us! On our final evening with the children, we were finally able to meet the their high demands and requests for a soccer match. USA vs. Costa Rica—leaving the snow out of the equation this time! This was a great way to end the day!

Our travels led us on to the next destination. We stayed for one night in the mountains where we saw the infamous Arenal Volcano, ziplined through the Rainforest, hiked down to La Fortuna Waterfall and swam with the marchacas, (a non-threatening members of the piranha family).

Our next service project was in Tamarindo, Costa Rica at Brasilito Elementary School located on the Pacific Ocean. This small school experienced devastating effects after an earthquake in September of 2012 leveled several classrooms forcing the kids to take classes in the school’s kitchen and dining area. When we arrived the school had only three classrooms remaining for all 180 children. The group cleaned up their small campus sweeping away left over debris from the earthquake and creating space for an herb garden for the school to use in the children’s lunches.

Project Kids Network visited each classroom and taught the children simple English words rewarding correct answers with donated notebooks, pens, and other school items. Donated sports equipment was left for the school to use during recess and other athletic events. Our final project was to assemble a 20’x20’ awning our group purchased for the school to use as additional sheltered space for classes. Since the earthquake, the school has been forced to use the kitchen and dining area as a temporary classroom. The goal is for the children to be able to move out of the kitchen area and have a real space to call their own.

Special thanks to all of our supporters, family/friends and mission partners in Sarapiqui and Brasilito. It was definitely a trip of a lifetime and we look forward to continuing our projects/support there in 2014 and years to come.

Volunteering Costa Rica

Pura Vida!