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A band from Hojancha in a need of uniformes
A music school in Hojancha - Guanacaste
is a part of our Music & Art project where our volunteers have a chance to participate, bring their own ideas and also learn many new things. In this group, age is not important, there are children as well as seniors taking part and forming a music group. They get together three times a week - every Thusday, Friday and Saturday for 4 hours to practise and also have fun.
As Elí Salgado Vargas, the music teacher, says the music school was established because of a necessity of some cultural values in the town. Together with a help of municipality which provided the musical instruments, Elí was able to make this school a reality in the year 2009 and it now consists of 36 students and 3 teachers.
"We have been working with a lot of financial limitations since the help of the municipality is just partial." adds Elí. In fact, this is a reason why I decided to visit the group in Hojancha and create this blog post. The most important thing for the group are now uniformes but they cannot afford them so we are looking for somebody who would like to help the group and influence their future. Is it you?
(By David Kolesa - Marketing Intern)
Letter from Alto Katsi
With this letter, the parents of children in Alto Katsi, Talamanca, Costa Rica are appealing for your valuable support explained below.
For the past three years our children have been receiving school lessons in our own community. Before this time, our children had to walk almost two kilometers down the mountain to the closest school in the nearby community of Katsi. The small building we were using for the school was in very poor repair and no longer safe for children. It was taken down early in 2009. As parents, we have been given the task of working to construct our community school since our children no longer have a formal structure to receive classes. They are currently receiving classes in the home of one of the community members
With this support we have achieved advancing the construction of the school 50%. The other 50% to complete construction is found in:
1. Lack of cut wood
2. Acabado de la misma como enderezado y machinerbrodo
3. Funds to cover the foreman´s salary
This structure has the following measurements à 18 X 7.50 square meters (m2) and consists of 2 classrooms measuring 6 X 9 m2 and a front corridor measuring 1.50 X 18 m2.
Also missing is the cafeteria which measures 14 X 8.40 m2 consists of kitchen, eating area and bathrooms. For this structure we already have 300 cement blocks, 30 barrilos and 20 bags of cement. This material was donated to us to make the set of bathrooms.
We wish to finish the school and through this card we are asking for your support and collaboration in our important objective, which is to complete the construction of the school, eating area, kitchen and bathrooms. In order to finish, we need:
1. Funds to pay the construction foreman, which will be 2 months at a value of C15,000 per day, for a total of C900,00.
2. 8,000 inches of wood which comes from trees donated by parents. Por lo ceiol there is a cutting fee, which is C150 per inch, for a total of C1,200,000. lo ceiol cubrirla el faltante de madera que tiene la escuela y el resto es para la construcción del comedor.
3. Arreglo de madera como enderezada y madrenbrodo de 8,000 pulgadas, con un costo de la pulgada para un total de C480,000.
4. Hardware materials and supplies totaling C892,464.
TOTAL BUDGET à C3,472,464.00
As you already know, our annual event is planned for Chicago, IL, in the US this year and our guest of honor is Danilo Layan Gabb, who some of the past volunteers already know. Danilo is a member of the Bri Bri tribe living in Bambu and is a famous element of Tropical Adventures family.
We have been waiting anxiously to know whether Danilo would be able to come with us to the event or not. To do so, he needed to get a visa from US Embassy, not an easy task for a Costa Rican who has never received any visa to the US before.
This morning, Danilo had an appointment at the US Embassy for his visa interview. Scott went with him and they waited for hours to get the answer, and it was yes. How relieving it was! You can imagine how excited Danilo is now. It is so rewarding for him and it would have been so unfair to see a refusal from the Embassy.
Now, Danilo is definitely going to Chicago and will enjoy his first travel to the US. We are all proud and excited for him. This kind of story gives hope and reason to fight. Never give up and do your best.
Danilo will be in Chicago for the annual event on August the 14th and the 15th, what about you?
We really hope you will come and join us in Chicago!
Why do we seek your help ?
For almost five years now, Tropical Adventures has been providing help and support to all the communities with which the Foundation has been working. In this sense, we can consider our actions successful but, as you already know, we are too dependent on the context of external decisions (politics e.g.) to keep a budget steady. This is the drawback of being a non-profit, we can’t anticipate market fluctuations. Still, we keep thinking that our projects deserve to be and have a strong meaning. This sharing of knowledge and culture benefits you and us and that’s why we are asking you to help us out.
This time of the year is very difficult, in the months coming, not many volunteers will travel to our projects so our income decreases. Nevertheless, people from the communities who are working with us continue their life…That’s why we need you: kids still need to go to school, our friends from Bambu still need our support and animals from the Wildlife RescueCenter still need to be rescued and fed.
We have until August 31th to collect about $40,000 and thus to be able to provide you the same service quality and to continue to be efficient in our support of communities and environment.
Your donation will be an investment in their future and their success in life…
Hundreds of kids, families, foundations and animals count on your help, it’s up to you now.
Thank you for your support and all your love,
WHAT MAKES US DIFFERENT ?
Nowadays, something is happening to the world. People start to worry about the place we live and feel more and more concerned about ecological issues. It is a good point, but we have to be careful about the way to do it, and be very vigilant about who to trust in.
When you want to travel and to discover a new country, the safe reflex is to get informed about who you are going to travel with and especially if you have chosen to volunteer. Nevertheless, do not think that all ecotourism companies and organizations will provide you the same service quality, it is not true. Some of these are just using it as a business, won’t care about the kind of activities and you will be doing nothing really useful either for the community or for yourself.
At Tropical Adventures, our purpose is your personal fulfillment, the community development and the environmental aspects.
What we can do for you:
First, only come if you really want to do so and if you are highly motivated. We are not offering a sweet and nice hotel with swimming pool and drinks all day long. No, what we can do for you, is provide you with a sense of self accomplishment, a new definition of yourself and something that you probably never felt before. You will meet people from our communities, our friends, and not just business partners. Our host families will do their best to make you feel comfortable and will teach you all they can about the Costa Rican culture and lifestyle.
We have been providing these projects and tours for years now and you can be sure that every single day will be busy. We have all kind of activities for you, no matter how old you are, if you are in groups or by yourself, or if you came as a family. What we offer you are not simply vacations but life experiences.
What we can do for the community:
As I already said, we are not talking about collaborators, but very close friends. Our action, through your help, can help more and more people each year. First, because we are a non-profit organization, the benefits made from programs are going to the communities we are working with. We buy them materials like paint or tools and gifts, this money is also helpful to pay teachers and school supplies. Secondly, the meeting between local people and foreigners is really beneficial for both parts. You, as volunteers, will teach them English and they will teach you a lot of things about their culture. And last, but not least, the point of our commitment is to fully respect the environment, nature and the culture. We want you to learn how life is here and why we love it.
Tropical Adventures is not about being a regular company, making profits, selling you a service and taking your money. Tropical Adventures is a community, a way of thinking morally and more than this, we are a family, growing every time a volunteer joins us. We would love for you to be our next family member.
ASIS? WHAT'S THIS?
Saint Francis of Assisi, Francisco de Asis in Spanish, is not the most famous of Catholic Church Saints, but he is one we all have to learn from. Indeed, Francisco de Asis used to place as equals, all the creatures of God. The interesting part to us is not about God’s Creation, but more about the equal aspect. What Francisco de Asis wanted for all of us was the unity, the harmony and a synergy between human beings and the whole of nature; and that is what Alvaro and his father Jaime want for all of us as well. From this comes the name Asis Project.
Asis Project is located near La Fortuna and the Arenal volcano, in Alajuela province of Costa Rica. When you are standing outside the front gate, waiting to enter, you think about an old factory or an illegal workshop. Once inside, it is just another world.
The office reminds you of a nice and cozy hotel office, the main building is very impressive and it is hiding a beautiful pond, full of ducks, herons, blue jays, fishes and even a caiman! If you hear like a buzzy noise, turn your head and you'll see dozens of hammerbirds flying around.
In addition to its amazing scene, humans and animals live in a perfect harmony in this Center. You will meet two adorable Kinkajous, Benjamin and Cindy, three funny monkeys, a lovely and smelly wild boar named Perla, parrots, parakeets, an impressive hawk and three hilarious and likeable baby raccoons, who are only 3 months old and are already smarter than any dog or cat.
This is the wildlife you are going to meet in Asis Project, where Alvaro, his father Jaime who is a professional veterinarian, Teniente, Mary and volunteers and students work every single day a year, helping animals and educating people. Because that what all this is about: Education.
This Wildlife Rescue Center exists because of people’s behavior, for example if they see a raccoon or a caiman in the backyard, they will try to kill it. This is just ignorance, you can find examples of even more cruelty.
Let me tell you a story: two days before leaving the Center, a MINAE car (governmental environment safety), brought us an animal they found on the road side, an owl. It was a beautiful white owl, with black patches around its yellow eyes. Very impressive in its way to stand and to look at you, it was clear that this owl, young but at least one year old, did not fall from a tree and had not been attacked but was abandoned. It was accustomed to human presence (even if you could barely touch it) and especially because it had its wing cut off. Yes, some people wanted to make it as a pet, and to be sure it would not fly away, cut its wing off. This owl won’t never fly again, and, without the help of the MINAE and Asis Project, it would have been dead a couple of hours after they abandoned it.
This story, which is one among dozens, is a proof of the importance of Asis Project, but it especially demonstrates a lack of humanity in some humans…Volunteering in the Wildlife Rescue Center means working hard, digging out for days to build a lagoon for example, or building new cages for new arrivals, because even if they are shut in, they still need a decent place to live, if you want have idea in video, clik here. Come and help us! This project is beautiful for any person who wants to be useful and humane, because these animals just need a hand from you.
Romain, Marketing Intern for Tropical Adventures.
LIVING IN PARADISE
Hojancha truly is the most peaceful and friendly town I have ever been to. Within days of arriving I have friends religiously stopping by my house to see what I am up to. In addition to providing me with a great opportunity to practice my Spanish, each person I have met is genuinely kind and sincere. Being such a small town “todo el mundo conoce a todos” or everybody knows everybody in Hojancha. It is difficult to walk down the street without someone shouting your name or giving you the friendly Pura Vida! One of my best friends, Maikol, is a taxi driver, which can really come in handy. The other day I had a TON of laundry to carry back from Ricardo's house (the only guy in town I know with a washing machine). As I was struggling with the awkward and heavy bags, out of nowhere came Maikol, ready and willing to give me a lift to my house. My host family has been unbelievably kind and hospitable. They are always willing to go on a walk, go out for pizza, or watch a movie together. Not only have they been able to immensely help me practice my Spanish, but I have also helped them with their English!
Working with the kids in the day care center has also been a great experience. While they can get a little rowdy at times, they are all fun, great kids. They love listening to me read stories and learning new words in English! The day care Staff has been a blast to work with. They always provide me with something to eat and a delicious “fresco” to drink. In addition to volunteering in the day care center, I have also gone to Monte Alto where I worked alongside another volunteer. While it was a lot of intense labor, I really enjoyed getting to know the friendly and hardworking staff while simultaneously enjoying the breathtaking, beautiful views. Zachary, the other volunteer, and I helped create handrails for a bridge across a river and afterward we were able to carve our names into one of the rocks used as a support! I also spent a few days in Camaronal working on the Sea Turtle Project. The beach at Camaronal was unbelievably clean. The waves were HUGE, and attracted a lot of high skill- level surfers. Getting a taste for the night patrols was really fun! I wish I could have stayed for more time!
While not volunteering I have enjoyed swimming in the river, lifting weights with some of my new friends, eating the most delicious ice cream I have ever tasted, and learning to cook new and interesting things with my host family. On the weekends I have been to a few dances, gone to the beach, and played basketball. Last Saturday my friend Josue invited me to his family reunion party at his grandparents' house. It proved to be an amazing celebration starting with a game of “fútbol.” Afterwards there was loads of food, music, and dancing. They even had a Nintendo Wii set up for the kids to play with. Ok....I played too! For me, living and volunteering in Hojancha has been an amazing experience. I cannot wait to see what the next few weeks will bring.
Jason, intern in Hojancha for Tropical Adventures.
New Partnership to Help Indigenous Flood Victims
In our special December newsletter we spoke about the floods that happened in Costa Rica and Panama in November. Thousands of people lost their crops and livestock in the floods and others had to leave their homes and go into temporary shelters. Indigenous people in the Talamanca area where we have several projects were some of the worst hit. Many lost crops that they will not be able to replant or harvest any produce from for a further 18 months, meaning they have been left without an income source for food, clothes and living expenses. This is a particularly critical time in ensuring the people affected receive on-going help as many of the immediate relief efforts have subsided.
In addition to the support we are giving in the way of donations of food and clothes to some of the affected families, we are going to be partnering with Children Incorporated - a non-profit organization that is dedicated to the maintenance, support, education and welfare of needy children all around the world. We will be working together with them to help support the people on the indigenous reservation post-flood and to create a more sustainable income in the form of a co-operative that will allow community members to come together and support one another in economic activities aside from banana or plantain production. We are currently researching, together with Children Inc., the possibility of creating a chicken farm co-operative.
After getting the project going, we'd also be helping them with setting up distribution and marketing of their products, including the creation of an area farmer's market. Our plan covers sustainable income, disaster relief, assistance to children and elderly and will help many people who can't harvest any more crops for 18 more months. In addition to this, we are hoping to be able to employ an intern in the area to help us research and develop this and future projects that will help people in the Talamanca indigenous area.
In addition to this, Children Inc. will also be helping us to set up a Sponsor-a-Child program. We are very much looking forward to working together with Children Inc. to further extend our support of Costa Rica's under-resouced indigenous people. Keep posted for further info!
How You Can Help Us This Christmas
Don't waste a beautiful opportunity to share joy this holiday season! Greetings!
There are only 29 days left until our first Christmas project event where we'll be sharing with community members at La Flor. It's a day where we get to really show our appreciation to all the great people we and our volunteers get to work with - children, host families, coordinators and community members at our different projects across Costa Rica.
These are people who work incredibly hard to keep above the bread-line, usually doing hard jobs that involve long hours and low pay. But don't feel sorry for them at all. If you've been a volunteer here, you know how happy these folks are. Our goal with this event is to show our gratitude for letting us work alongside them.
We thank from the bottom of our hearts all the volunteers we have come to make the jobs of these people a little easier, and who have assisted hundreds of children by teaching and mentoring them so that they can be successful in school and enjoy better prospects than the generation before them.
We are desperately in need of help (in volunteer support, donations and supplies) to ensure these Christmas projects are a success. Please read on to see how you can help us - we truly appreciate any small gesture that we receive.
Giving people something to smile about this Christmas
We have 51 volunteers attending our Christmas projects so far - including 3 families. We're really looking forward to meeting and working together with each one of them to make every one of these events a special, fun and inspiring day for all who attend. We have been humbled by their generosity, many of whom have asked us what they can do to help us in addition to their volunteer help even after having paid their fees. One of our volunteers, Silvana, will be bringing 120 pairs of flip-flops with her to hand out to children from the Cocles school in Puerto Viejo, as well as bringing a parachute to play with, while others are helping donate supplies for party decorations. Donna Crawford is bringing 200 boxes of crayons.
We have also received several kind emails from past volunteers asking us how they can help. We feel so grateful to everyone who has offered to help even in spite of the economic downturn (something which is greatly affecting people here in Costa Rica too).
Despite all these wonderful and amazing offers of help, we still really need more help. There are hundreds of children and adults who will be attending all the events and to make each day as special as it should be. We are still in great need of more supplies and money to buy all the food.
Our Puerto Viejo Christmas party will take place at the nearby Cocles school and we have invited all 150
school children. This school is a wonderful place set back frJaguar at Monkey Parkom the beach and Caribbean Sea. It sounds idyllic but the reality is that the school is so understaffed that the children can only attend school for around 3 hours each day. Without our volunteers, the children would receive no English tuition at all and when there are no volunteers, lessons simply do not take place. Many of them do not go on to further study after 6th Grade. In Costa Rica, lack of schooling has a very negative impact on the career opportunities and consequent money-earning potential of these children.
What we need to make Christmas special for our communities and children
We want to make each of the events a really special day for hundreds of children and adults. For this reason, each party is very expensive and we still don't have the resources to make each day as special as it could be.
As an example, we will have around 130 people attending the Puerto Viejo Christmas Party. For this we will need to buy:
In addition to these parties, we also have the Childrens' Summer Camp in Puerto Viejo. For the Childrens' Summer Camp, we will be providing lunch for around 100 children for three days. We will be making hot dogs on the first day, cheese and ham sandwiches on the second day and rice and chicken (a traditional Costa Rican dish) on the third day.
In addition to feeding the children, we will be doing a number of fun and educational activities with them over the three days including arts and crafts workshops, sports, English and environmental education lessons. For the art workshop on the first day we will need to buy paints, white paper and colored pencils and for the environmental workshop on the second day, we'll need plenty of green, red and black paint as the children will be making masks out of recycled materials.
To provide all these things for the wonderful people who will be attending our events, we need all the support you can possibly give us. We really really really need your help and would appreciate more than you can imagine any small amount of help you give us.
We truly appreciate any gestures, no matter how small, that will help us to make these events a big success by giving all these lovely hard-working and kind people who do so much to help their own under-resourced communities a day to remember.
Here are some examples of how people continue to help us:
Thank you so much for your continued support of our work throughout Costa Rica. Please contact us if you have any questions at all about our Christmas Projects or any of our other projects or how you can help us.
We realise that not everbody has the means to actively help us and we thank you for your interest in Tropical Adventures and what we do. We hope that one day we will see you out here in Costa Rica and don't forget to tell your friends about us.
Please take a look at our video of all our wonderful projects, friends and volunteers.
Isaac, Scott and the Tropical Adventures Team.
For anyone interested in supporting a child by buying or paying for some school supplies, here is an example of what a child needs to go to school for one year in Costa Rica:
Mandatory School Supplies USD
Total for Supplies $71.64
Total for uniforms: $30.00 SUPPLIES & UNIFORM: $101.64
Please also look at our Donation Supply Wish List for detailed information of other items you can donate.
Counting Down to December...
It is only 32 days and counting until our first Christmas Project. The lights and decorations are starting to go up all around Costa Rica and we are working really hard to ensure all the events are a day to remember for all the community members who will be taking part. We want to make sure we put a smile on the face of everyone who attends - children and adults alike. This year is set to be much bigger than last year and we are in much need of donations in the form of supplies (decorations, arts and crafts and gifts for the children) and money to buy these supplies and yummy food and drinks for everyone. Please contact us if you would like to get involved in any way - we greatly appreciate every tiny amount of help that we receive.
This year we would like to be able to invite all the children from Cocles School in Puerto Viejo to come to the Puerto Viejo Christmas Party. Cocles is a beautiful location - set back away from the beach and the lapping waves of the Caribbean Sea. It sounds idyllic but the reality is that the school is so understaffed that pupils are only able to attend school for around 3 hours per day. In Costa Rica, lack of schooling has a very negative effect on the long-term career prospects and money-earning potential of many of the children. Many children do not continue in school after 6th Grade as they go to work to gain extra income for their family household or they lack the ambition to continue with school studies.
Our goal and the goal of our volunteers at Cocles, as well as teaching English, is to mentor and act as role models to the children to encourage them to be interested in their studies and enable them to want to continue learning after they finish primary education. Being able to speak English is a skill that greatly enhances career prospects in Costa Rica and without our volunteers, the students at the school would receive no English tuition at all. English classes simply do not take place when there are no volunteers at the school.
Today our Director, Isaac Garcia, is in Puerto Viejo to meet with the school head teacher to find out if we can invite all the school children. It would be wonderful to see all the children there and we hope they will enjoy the fun and be inspired by the efforts of ourselves and our volunteers. Following that meeting, Isaac has a big meeting with the Puerto Viejo Development Association Board. This consists of 15 community leaders from the Puerto Viejo area. Amongst other things, he will be presenting the plans for the Puerto Viejo school Summer Camp and discussing with the board the possibility of having the event in the town cultural center which is larger than last year's venue and will allow us to invite more children from the community. Isaac will also be visiting some local business in the area, including some of the main hotels and restaurants, many of which are run by foreign ex-pats. We are hoping many of them would like to donate to our two events in Puerto Viejo and help us out with materials for the events.
Also over the Christmas period, we are very much looking forward to welcoming a group of students from the Central Michigan University. As well as participating in our Christmas Projects, they will also be staying at the beautiful Camaronal Reserve and taking part in our Turtle Conservation Project there. This project is particularly understaffed and in much need of volunteers to help protect the endangered sea-turtles from becoming extinct by ensuring their eggs are laid in a safe place and do not get poached. This area is quite rustic and very remote but all the volunteers we have had there have had a wonderful time and usually wish they'd stayed longer. You can read what some of our past volunteers have written about their experiences at Camaronal here.
Our friends from Michigan will get to fall asleep to the sound of the lapping waves, experience the rugged beauty of the area, see live turtles laying there eggs and above all - work with some amazingly friendly, dedicated and knowledgeable people. In particular with this project, we are very grateful to Danilo Gabb, our friend and indigenous leader who runs the Indigenous Cultural Center in Bambu over on the opposite side of Costa Rica who will be lending us enough tents to host everyone from Michigan. We are so lucky to have such great friends who are willing to help us and our friends on other projects out!
As always, please contact us if you would like any further information on our projects, what we do or to see how you can help.