Thank you for your support, the resources of our "Community Development Fund" have been used to improve the community in El Cocal, at the request of the people who live and participate there.
El Cocal is a community located on a small peninsula a few minutes outside of Quepos. The community itself is an isolated home to Costa Ricans as well as many immigrant families from other neighbouring Latin American countries (Nicaragua, Cuba, and Panama).
Many of the people come to Costa Rica to benefit from the political and financial stability the country offers. However, even in such a tourist-rich area as Quepos, people can struggle to earn a living unless they are able to draw an income from foreign visitors.
Male residents of El Cocal are usually employed in the fishing industry, work in hotels, or get involved with illegal activities. Families often partake in a more short-term, day-by-day livelihood rather than focus on their long-term future.
The children raised in this environment do not have an understanding towards preparing for their future. Partially fuelled by the lack of education in the community and partially by the transient and semi-legal nature of El Cocal (many of whose members are seasonally unemployed and affected by drug and alcohol abuse), their attitudes towards education and life in general are reflected by these offsets.
Therefore, together with the community, we have been working in designing a strategy to develop El Cocal to help them prosper for the future.
After the results of several workshops about Community Development and Leadership, it has been possible to define the next set of steps needed for Cocal to progress. Also established are the people who will participate, through which some community members have been empowered.
Don, has always been a leading member of the community, but has become more assertive in his pursuit of a better Cocal. He has learned how to involve community members and local partners. He was successful in creating a relationship with the municipality, resulting in a reforestation project of more than 200 trees for El Cocal and the neighbouring community. For this activity, several organizations participated, including local police, fishermen, the Distance University, and people of Cocal. The event allowed us to be in contact with other families of the community and showed the importance of working in solidarity.
During these months, we have been working with different partners such as the Distance University of Costa Rica, ASOMACAO AC, the Municipality of Quepos, Sunny Erg, and the Local Theatre-COPAZA.
Together we are looking to develop and improve the social conditions in Cocal by helping the community discover their strengths and provide them with more tools for their personal growth.
Thanks to your generous donations and the participation of the community members, we have been able to consistently provide healthy snacks to the children of the community during our Childcare program. This is very important due to the lack of money, resources, and stability & foundation within the household. Many of the children eat very unhealthily and develop bad nutritional habits.
We have also been able to serve more than 50 people in our English teaching project. Most inhabitants of the community would love to learn English but cannot afford to take classes as it would be provided from a disposable income they do not have. In this tourist-rich region, it allows families to have a better income and a chance to better support their families.
One of the goals from the Community Development workshops was to do activities focused on leadership. Three workshops were held where both men and women from the community participated. Participants from different facets of the community involved themselves; housewives, fisherman, businessman, teenagers. This result allowed us to underline the importance of having an integrated community.
An annual activity plan/schedule was setup along with those who are responsible for organizing the upcoming activities to be developed. The tasks for these activities have been determined and the members of the community who are charged to lead them.
Likewise, a workshop on self-knowledge and self-esteem for women was achieved. After the National strike at the end of 2018, it was difficult to gather women of the community together. Responsibilities needing to be prioritized led to this difficulty. Since then a small core of women are now participating, little by little.
Maintenance in the Community centre
We also use the funding for materials and supplies for the Childcare program. The activities we carry out during the program help the children to be out off the street, learn about new topics, and strengthen their reading and writing. This year’s topics included first aid, environmental education, and mathematics.
Another part of the funding goes towards the maintenance of the Community Centre and the playground. The children are consistently playing in the playground and attending Childcare at the Community Centre. Along with our English & Childcare program, the Community Centre is used by various local partners (UNED, PANI, PAWS, etc.) and Cocal community members for events, festivals, & workshops. Both locations have become staples of the community and it would be hard to imagine El Cocal without them.
Lastly, this year we repaired the piping for the water supply and repainted the Community Centre. One of our service learning groups laid concrete to create a walkway surrounding the Centre, along with building an area that can support a small garden. Due to its coastal locale, proximity next to the ocean, and the heavy rainfall during Green Season, the Centre rusts and damages quite easily and is always needing maintenance and renovation.
Similarly for the playground, we were able to make another set of swings for the children. A few of the community members donated their time and lent their equipment as well. In addition, all the damaged wood from the toddler park was repaired and painted. There are still things needing to be fixed and created for the toddler park so the youngest children can have a fun environment to play as well.
What is next?
Our commitment to our work in Cocal will lead to reinforcing the importance of being participative. As we build more relationships and have more active members in the community, GVI Trust's Community Development program will grow exponentially. This will result in the continued progress and development of El Cocal at large.
Furthermore, we wish to have support in offering nutritional workshops and continue to provide healthy food for the children.
One of our most significant emphases is keeping our safe spaces for children and the rest of the community. That is why it is of the utmost importance and necessity to repair the roof of the Community Centre and the electrical system in it. As previously stated, the Community Centre is an essential part of Cocal that the community relies on for a plethora of usages.
Thank you for your incredible generosity. It is greatly appreciated. The huge progress being made in the El Cocal community cannot occur without your kind support.