Last year, Andreia Beraldo, Children Incorporated’s International Projects Specialist, and I traveled to Costa Rica to visit our affiliated project Santa Luisa in the small town of Bratsi (Bambu). A five-hour drive southeast from San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital in the Talamanca Mountains Region, the town is located along the country’s border with Panama. Bratsi is mostly inhabited by the indigenous Bribri tribe, and it is close to the Sixaola River, which separates Costa Rica from Panama by just a short boat ride.
The area produces various crops including bananas, plantains, cacao, and a variety of tropical fruits; agriculture provides little income for the families in the region, however. Among the houses and schools within the Bratsi community is the Santa Luisa home for the elderly, which not only serves the aging population, but also provides support for children in the community.
A home in the jungle
When we arrived, our Volunteer Coordinator at the time, Sister Bertalina, showed us around the grounds of Santa Luisa, which are well-kept and full of chickens, roosters, and fruit trees – all of which provide food for the residents of the home. Santa Luisa is funded and run by the government. Ten staff members help care for upwards of 25 elderly residents at a time, and the four Sisters that live on the property help to oversee operations, as well as to provide support through our sponsorship program for the children in the surrounding communities and their families.
For the past nine years, during five of which Sister Bertalina was at Santa Luisa, the 83 children in our program there have been receiving food, clothing, shoes, and school supplies upon monthly visits to the home. After showing us the Santa Luisa grounds, Sister Bertalina took us to visit the home of two children in our program, only a few minutes’ drive away. The visit took us into the jungle, where at first glance, it didn’t seem that a path off the main road existed at all. Blanketed by large banana trees, the road was narrow and muddy, and it took us up a steep incline. When we arrived at the wooden two-bedroom house, which was built on stilts on the side of a hill, we were greeted by the father, who held his small son in his arms. His wife and their other son were out for the day.
New mattresses for Christmas
The father explained that the roof leaks whenever it rains, so they have to bag their clothes up and tie those bags to the rafters in order to keep their belongings dry during times of precipitation. The one mattress that the whole family shared was torn, and it really needed to be replaced because of water damage. As we left, Sister Bertalina mentioned that she wanted to buy mattresses for many of these families who sleep on the floor or on foam padding - families that have the same issues with rain and humidity ruining their mattresses.
Thankfully, once Andreia and I returned home, Sister Bertalina submitted a request for support from our Hope In Action Fund to purchase mattress for all of our sponsored and unsponsored children at Santa Luisa. This past Christmas, the mattresses arrived, and each of the families picked up one brand new mattress each. We are so grateful to our donors and supporters that we were able to help these families with an urgent need.