Where is SI Costa Rica Working?
God continues to open doors for SI in Costa Rica. Our staff team is working in the Canton (or county) of Desamparados, which is a short 10-minute drive from downtown San Jose. About 250,000 people live in Desamparados, which has a reputation as being one of the poorer and less desirable places to live in in the San Jose area. Within this county, SI is primarily working in the two communities of Las Fuentes and Los Guidos.
Las Fuentes is a small neighborhood of about 100 houses that began as a squatter community some 30 years ago. Within the last year the streets have been paved and bus and garbage services have begun. Not unlike many urban areas, Las Fuentes is a land of juxtaposition. At first glance it appears to be a neighborhood that has successfully broken the cycles of poverty, but behind the walls that line the streets are houses in extreme poverty where the cycle is far from broken. In the midst of this community God is moving in mighty ways to draw people to himself.
Los Guidos is a precario (slum) of about 50,000 people on the outskirts of Desamparados. It is made up of a mix of Nicaraguan and Columbian immigrants as well as Costa Ricans. The social issues present are numerous and vary from sector to sector. Most streets are unpaved, water and electric service are irregular, and garbage collection is available only on the main street. Gangs, prostitution, unemployment, alcoholism, and drug addiction are a few of the challenges faced by the people of Los Guidos. In the midst of a dark area the light of the Gospel is penetrating and the slow process of change has begun.
Ministry Sites in Costa Rica
Cailah Pritchard is working alongside a local church and pastor in the community of Las Fuentes. Her work is multifaceted. Along with the pastor Cailah visits elderly and disabled people to remind them they are loved and not forgotten. When teams are here Cailah and the team often bake scrumptious treats to hand out during their visits. Cailah is also beginning a homework help center and English classes as well as assisting in various projects around the church. Please pray for Cailah as she continues to navigate the relationship with Pastor Gilbert and the church. Pray for continued direction.
On paper Costa Rica has a great education system; however, the reality is much different. Many children fall through the cracks in the overcrowded and under-resourced schools. We have meet numerous children who are 9 or 10 and in 1st grade for the 3rd or 4th time and children who are 12 and are just able to read and write their names. In response to this need we have recently opened a tutoring center in partnership with Food for the Hungry Costa Rica and La Iglesia Reformada de Los Guido. Krysta Williams and Tracey Dixon are spearheading our work there as we develop this tutoring center. They offer general tutoring, small groups focused on math and reading, and facilitate a kid’s club every Friday.
Guarderà (Day Care Center)
In single-parent families or homes where both parents need to work, children are often left alone during the day to care for themselves and their younger siblings. We have begun working with a low cost day care center in Los Guidos. The center is drastically understaffed. When they are not working at the tutoring center, Krysta Williams and Tracey Dixon work at the day care center to provide extra help. They facilitate fun activities with the children such as making and playing with play dough, baking cookies, and playing games. They also provide tutoring help to some of the older children.
The construction site is lead by Jeremy Janzen and is currently focused on projects that will help to improve current facilities, to provide needed tools to our other ministry sites and partners, and/or help to build relationships in the communities where we work. Some of the projects we have worked on and will be working on are: rebuilding a bathroom used by a sewing ministry, building needed gutters alongside a street, building furniture for the office and tutoring center, and building a retaining wall at a local church. Please pray with us for continued direction for what God would have us to do with this site.
This summer SI is receiving its first teams in Desamparados. We are excited to see the students working alongside our staff in the various ministry sites. It is a joy to watch both the lives of the community members and students simultaneously transformed during an outreach.
A college student on a recent outreach said it well when asked about their experience, “I learned a lot about the extent of His [God’s] love and his broken heart. I learned what causes Him to weep. This was largely through the children I interacted with. I was a little nervous about not knowing Spanish, but I realized a universal language, God’s love. If I speak and act with his love, I have no limits.”
Costa Rica Prayer Requests
· Continued guidance and direction as we develop ministry sites
· Continued favor in the communities where we are working
· For transformed lives of our staff members, students, and the poor
· For the approval of our Non-Profit Association paperwork by the Costa Rican Government