Community Development & Education in Costa Rica

by Global Vision International Charitable Trust
Thank you! Gracias
Thank you! Gracias

Dear Supporters, 

As 2016 draws to a close, we look back on all of our achievements. 

The Community of El Cocal

This year we focused our efforts in El Cocal, a community located on a small peninsula a few minutes outside of Quepos. Despite the proximity to the tourist centre of Quepos, it has a very different feel and the lifestyle of the community members is quite unique. The community itself is an isolated and partially illegal settlement, home to Costa Ricans as well as many immigrant families. Many of these people have come to Costa Rica to benefit from the political and financial stability offered, but people struggle to make ends meet unless they are able to draw an income from the foreign visitors. 

The children from this community attend the school for only 4 hours a day and spend the rest of the day in the street, playing video games or watching TV. One of the aims of this project is to offer the kids a safe space where they can go to play safely and learn. Hence, we started by building a playground, then a community centre with enough space to have workshops, and space where children can play, learn about growing their own food and healthy eating habits.

A Playground

At the beginning of the year, one of our volunteers, Kate, raised funds to build the first playground in El Cocal. It was completed over the course of 4 weekends and has been used non-stop since we opened it! 

A Community Centre

Near the playground, we started erecting the roof for a community centre. We have been building the community centre in pieces, as funding becomes available. The roof was a key part as it provides a space to use during the rainy season. Kate also donated chairs and tables for the new space. So slowly it started coming together!  

Later in the year, with the help of your donations, the El Cocal community and a group of hard working volunteers we were able to make huge progress on the community centre. A fence was put up, the ground was levelled, foundations were laid, walls were built and painted and a bathroom was fixed up. 

Increasing Access

The only access to the community is by sea. There is only one boat ramp that has been, little by little over the years, washed away by the sea. This makes it very hard for old people and people with disabilities to get up and down, especially when there is low tide. It is also very slippery and becomes dangerous for everyone. People from the community came together and rebuilt the lower part of the ramp, making it safer and increasing access!

How the projects impacted lives?

One of the biggest highlights of this year was working alongside the community and under their direction. The project was initiated by the community and they were involved in all aspects, from local fundraising to committing their time, expertise and labour to the tasks. The land where this community centre is built belongs to the community and the centre has been requested by them.

As well as GVI having access to the centre for our daily projects, the centre will also be used for weddings, meetings and festivals. It is a safe space in a healthy environment for everyone to enjoy. It also has a communal kitchen used to make and sell products. Likewise, the community centre has an outside bathroom which can be rented to the people visiting the beach. In addition, the community centre aims to also be an example of sustainable organic agriculture, starting by having a compost area, local products and then have the people replicating it in their backyards!

What's on the cards for 2017?

We want to focus on using this centre to help members of the community to make a living. We aim to do this by improving the kitchen facilites, planting and nurturing an organic garden and renting out the bathroom to beach goers. We also want to get our healthy breakfast club off the ground for the local children.   

We hope that you will continue to support our work and our commitment to the community of El Cocal in 2017. 

Thank you for your incredible generosity in 2016. We would not have been able to make such huge progress without your kind support. 

We wish you a happy festive season and a prosperous new year. 

With Gratitude, 
GVI Costa Rica

The busy playground
The busy playground
The beginnings of the community center!
The beginnings of the community center!
Happy Kids Enjoying the Center
Happy Kids Enjoying the Center
The kids came by to lend us a hand!
The kids came by to lend us a hand!

Dear Supporters, 

GVI has been working in Quepos since 2011 and concentrates mainly on the struggling communities, particularly working with the children and young people of these areas.GVI has decided to focus its efforts almost entirely on El Cocal in 2016, as it is the area that needs the most help.

El Cocal struggles due to being a partly illegal and isolated settlement, many inhabitants suffering from drug and alcohol abuse. There is also a high number of immigrant families from surrounding Latin America countries, which has led to problems with racial tension. Lots of the community are employed in the fishing industry, which means work is unreliable, so families aren’t used to saving money, just spending what they have straight away. 

El Cocal is often ignored by the residents of the surrounding areas, the bustling Quepos and the thriving Manuel Antonio. Despite El Cocal being populated for decades, the only official government building is the school, the partner of GVI. This is why GVI wants to build a community center to be a place for children to come and learn in a safe and fun environment outside of the school, as well as a place where the adults can come together, make new friends and grow as a community. We spent three weeks designing, building and decorating a space the whole community can use.

Recently GVI volunteers spent three weeks designing, building and decorating a space the whole community can use using funds donated by you!

What impact did the donation have?

The children from this community attend the school for about 4 hours a day and normally spend the rest of the day either in the street, playing video games or watching the tv. One of our aims is to offer the kids a safe space where they can play and learn. Hence, we are building a community center with enough space to have workshops, space where they can play around and learn about growing their own food and healthy eating habits.

The land where this community is being built belongs to the community, and the center has been requested by them. The center will also be used for weddings, meetings, festivals. It will also have a kitchen that the local community will be able to use and sell products to generate an income. Likewise, the community center has an outside bathroom which could be rented to the people visiting the beach, as one of the long terms aims is to change the image of El Cocal from being a neglected and dangerous town to a place where families can go to enjoy the beach. 

In addition, the community center aims to also be an example of sustainable organic agriculture, starting by having a compost area, local products and then have the people replicating it in their backyards, for eventually sell the products and get some income from it too.

We look forward to sharing more detailed news about what we have done in the next report!

Thank you for your donations, which have made the dream of a community center a reality!

With Gratitude, 
GVI Costa Rica

Starting to come together!
Starting to come together!
The volunteers who did all the hard work!
The volunteers who did all the hard work!
A fully-fledged superhero!
A fully-fledged superhero!

Dear Supporters, 

A few weeks ago there was a nationwide teacher's strike here in Costa Rica that lasted 3 days. So we decided to jump in take the opportunity to host a school camp in El Cocal. 

For this camp, we decided to split the volunteers into 3 groups, each in charge of creating 1 day of activities for the kids. Superheros, Minions and cardboard zoos were the themes of these fun-filled 3 days! 

Day 1: Superheros

All of the kids had to choose the qualities of their favourite superheroes- helpful, loyal, fast, brave- and convert these qualities into camp rules. For example, 'always help others when they need it.' It is safe to say that the kids loved playing superheroes for the day and their excitement was amplified by the superhero accessories they got to make! The firm favourite was the cape making. Armed with white sheets, fabric markers and paint the kids were tasked with making their own unique capes for the day. 

The imagination and creativity of the kids is amazing to witness! One very memorable cape was made by an 11-year-old girl who declared herself 'Saviour of the World' vowing to help anyone affected by poverty and war. 

Day 2: Disney

The kids in El Cocal are Disney- obsessed and many even came on day 2 dressed in their Disney clothes! Although everyone has their favourite characters, there was a general agreement that Minions were the ultimate Disney characters. It was an amazing sight seeing 30 children running around in Minion masks after our first activity! 

The Disney fun continued throughout the day with more mask making, wand and crown making and even face painting. At one point we had a student painted up as Elsa from Frozen, holding an 'evil villain' wand and dressed up as a Minion!

Day 3: Zoo

The animal theme is fun but also very important here in El Cocal. There is not much education about animals and animal treatment, so this was the perfect theme to bring this up. 

We started the day by creating a zoo of animals out of recycled goods. The kids learnt about what animals live in what ecosystems and how they all fit together. We also spoke about animals being treated well and what that means. In the end, they seemed to grasp the concept that animals have feelings too and we need to be kind to them. 

The fun continued with decorating t-shirts with favourite animals and sports activities at the end of the day. It is of equal importance to let the kids be creative and active as these are both ways to engage in a healthy lifestyle, free their minds of any frustration and negative they may be carrying with them. 

Camp is a great way to provide the kids with a safe place to be when school is out unexpectedly as well as have fun and build stronger relationships in the more relaxed and informal environment. 

With Gratitude, 

GVI Costa Rica

We loved seeing the creative side of the kids
We loved seeing the creative side of the kids
Fun and games at camp!
Fun and games at camp!

Dear Supporters, 

Today I want to tell you about a new initiative on our Quepos project. We are aiming to launch a Healthy Breakfast Club in conjunction with one of our partner schools.


Jose* lives in a community in Costa Rica called El Cocal. His parents came from Nicaragua, hoping to find a better life for their family in the tourist mecca that is Quepos, the gateway to the famous Manuel Antonio Park.

The reality of the situation isn’t as good as his family might have hoped for. Theirs is a daily struggle to make a living, provide 3 meals a day and to keep their children off the streets and away from a multitude of negative influences.

Jose goes to school every morning with an empty stomach and a distracted mind. Because of this, he isn't doing as well in school as he should and he often gets into trouble with his teachers. 

With your help, we can help Jose by ensuring that when he gets to school he has a healthy breakfast waiting for him, so that he can start his day off on a positive note and work hard at school. 

With your help, we can help Jose and 79 other school children like him.

This initiative costs $1/ day/ per child. That means that for only $20, Jose and his parents won’t have to worry about starting the day on an empty stomach for a whole month.

Our Goal

We need to have an initial sum of $9 600 so that we can launch our Healthy Breakfast Club to 80 children for a 6 month period.

Will you help us? 

As an extra bonus, this GlobalGiving Bonus Day, your gift will go that much further because GlobalGiving will match your donation by 50%! That means that children like Jose will be guaranteed a full stomach and healthy mind for that much longer.

So, put the 15 June, 9am EDT in your diary and help us get the Healthy Breakfast Club off the ground!

With Gratitude, 

GVI Costa Rica

*Names have been changed 


Fun and games and music!
Fun and games and music!

Dear Supporters,

Semana Santa, which literally means ‘Holy Week’, is the week around Easter and it is celebrated throughout Latin America.  All schools are closed during this week. So, instead of following our regular class schedule, we decided to host a 3-day holiday camp for the children. The theme was “Around the World” with the idea that we would teach the students about different continents, counties and cultures.

On Monday of Semana Santa, we started our Cultural Camp in El Cocal.

We divided the days according to continents. On the first day we focused on Europe and Australia, the second day celebrated cultural traditions from Asia, and the final day wrapped it up with Africa and the Americas.

We exposed the children to a wide variety of cultural activities such as Aboriginal painting from Australia, lantern making from Asia, netball from England and an Easter egg hunt from North America. By engaging the students in these experiences, we introduced them to new ideas cultures. For the majority of the students, this was the first time that they were exposed to traditions outside of Costa Rica.

The volunteers with GVI Quepos successfully provided students with a safe, fun, educational environment to spend their Semana Santa holiday week. This is important for several reasons.

Access to camps and activities like these are incredibly important for the children, and even more so when the schools are closed. When the schools are closed there are very limited supervised activities for the children. They will mostly be found playing, unsupervised, in the streets. This can be problematic because there are plenty of negative and unsafe situations that the children could be exposed to. The community, made up mostly of migrants fleeing bad situations in their own countries, is rife with drugs, violence and cultural conflict and poverty.

For these reasons it is important to provide an alternative for the children that is safe and fun. Word of our camp reached over 20 children, which gave the program an platform to inform more families about what we were teaching on a regular basis. As a result, we had 10 new children join our regular classes after the week was over! We were also able to bond with students who were already attending class and a greater level of mutual trust was achieved between the volunteers and their students.

It is safe to say that Cultural Camp during Semana Santa was a great success in both positively influencing the children as well as expanding the reach of our regular program so that it may benefit more and more children in the community.

Thank you for your generosity which makes programs like this possible.

With Gratitude,

GVI Costa Rica





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Organization Information

Global Vision International Charitable Trust

Location: Exeter, Devon - United Kingdom
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Kate Robey
Exeter, Devon United Kingdom

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