Here in Quepos we have been working in the community of El Cocal for over a year now. There are several reasons why this community was identified as a priority for our work in Quepos. Firstly, there is only one school on the entire island which means that the school has had to divide it’s day in half to accommodate all of the students in its existing structure. As a result, the children in El Cocal only have school for half a day and are free to roam the island for the other half. The second major issue on the island is drugs. Everywhere you look in El Cocal you can find evidence of drug use, and with so much free time on their hands, it is likely that the children will get sucked into this life at a young age.
In order to counteract this, the GVI team in Quepos opened a community center on the island. The idea here is that the children can still receive a full day of education as well as have a safe, drug free space available to them. Until recently, we had been running this center out of an outdoor space we rented from a local church. However, as our various initiatives – such as adult English classes – grew, we found that we needed a bigger, more structured space. With a combination of luck, timing, and good fortune, we found a new center immediately across the path from the El Cocal school. After a little loving elbow grease by all of us here, the new center is well on its way to becoming the epicenter of fun, educational, drug-free activities on the island, and the Grand Opening is scheduled for the middle of September.