Nov 12 2012

Costa Rica: Looking beyond rose-colored glasses

Join us as we celebrate Geography Awareness Week with National Geographic and friends. This year’s theme is “Geography: Declare Your Interdependence.”

Many of us think of a tropical paradise when we hear any reference to Costa Rica.

Costa Rica mapTruth be told, it is a country of economic contrasts: posh shopping malls and crowded slums, luxury hotels and thatch-roofed villages.

Tourism and development help some, but leave others struggling to overcome the challenges of poverty.

CFCA serves more than 6,700 children and youth through the San Jose project in Costa Rica. CFCA mothers groups there started with 15 moms. Today, 2,700 mothers of CFCA sponsored children in Costa Rica belong to mothers groups.

Many families in Costa Rica face a harsh reality. They live in slums and near river basins or dangerous areas threatened by landslides.

In these rough areas, hope can seem like itís just out of armís reach. But the CFCA mothers groups can give families a much-needed boost.

Just look at one mothers group in Heredia that learned how to sew, for example. These 15 women have come together to learn several new trades and confide in one another for support.

ìWe promote the self-esteem with each other and we find topics of motivation,î said Maribel, mother of two children in the Hope for a Family sponsorship program. ìWe talk about our new projects and we find alternatives. Then, we finish by sharing a cup of coffee.î

The best part? Sponsored children see the impact these groups have made on their own mothers. They see the commitments their mothers have made and suddenly their own commitment to the program and going to school increases.

Maybe someday the deep economic disparities families face in Costa Rica will be lessened, allowing all to enjoy what many of our tourist-y, rose-colored glasses have allowed us to see.

Until then, we can be optimistic knowing that the Hope for a Family program is changing the lives of many thousands in Costa Rica, providing a path out of poverty and giving a positive outlook to future generations.

Learn more about Geography Awareness Week here.

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