For our last day of classes, we had class in the morning and then went to lunch and had a certificate ceremony to "graduate" from CRLA. The teachers said what we did and what we were good at and then gave us our certificates, and the people at CRLA made us cake to have after our lunch. I thought that the classes were very effective for the students at that level, and I had a lot of fun in the classes. It was a very different way of learning than at school. For example, there were only three people per class, so the teacher could focus more on helping certain students learn different things.
After CRLA, we went to a store called "Pequeno Mundo," which means small world. They had anything you could need for very low prices. We went there to buy food and clothing for the orphans that we had seen the day before and were now going to see again. When we were driving to and from the orphanage, we saw many houses that seemed to be leaning on each other without any stability. The people seemed to be very impoverished. Our tour guide told us that many people in those areas were drug dealers, drug addicts, alcoholics, and abusive or neglectful to their children. Many of the children in the orphanage had come from families that neglected them and left them on the street alone or were taken from their parents because their homes were unsafe. Some children in the orphanage were extremely nice, while others were unintentionally aggressive, but all of the kids would smile and laugh no matter what had happened to them in the past. I thought this was a very beautiful thing, because it shows you can change someone's life just by giving them safety and love.
We bought mainly rice and beans (a staple food for Costa Rica), clothing, and school supplies for the children. We also bought three basketballs for them to play with, but that is not what the orphanage mainly needed, because it's very hard to take care of over 90 kids and to have enough funding from the government. They appreciate anyone sending money, clothing, or food, because those are the main things they need. Even though we donated a lot of food and supplies, I felt like it was more important to play with the kids and make them feel loved than to give them a dinner of rice and beans.
When we were playing with the kids, everyone was supposed to take care of one or two children. I ended up taking care of a little girl wearing all blue who was about 3.5 years old. We were playing on the seesaw; she would sit on one end, and I would push the other end up and down. It was amazing to see her have this gigantic, beautiful smile and laugh so much, even though her family couldn't take care of her. Even at the orphanage, she has so much less than I do (or many people in America). I thought that it showed that material wants aren't what we should be made of. For example, most of us feel lost without the internet and technology, but many children in Costa Rica have never even seen a phone or used the internet, and they can have just as much -- if not more -- fun than we have ever had in our entire lives.
When we were playing with the children, all of a sudden it started pouring and I ended up holding the girl I was playing with and had to give her back to her caretakers before saying goodbye. She was in tears when I took her back to her house mother. As we left, I felt sad to not be able to say goodbye to her because I felt like I hadn't done what I was supposed to if she was crying when I left.
In Costa Rica, I would like to be able to help create an organization, or donate to an organization, which will stop poverty in Costa Rica and create solutions to the social problems so those children won't be without a family of their own. I think I'll always remember seeing the impoverished parts of Costa Rica, and also seeing the contrast of seeing how close the richest parts were, and how unfair that must feel. I will also always remember the crying child in the rain.
MIddle School Teacher
A blog by various Alcuin staff members. Updated monthly...