Mission Volunteer Journey – update #1
Agua Viva Serves (www.avs.ngo), Los Chiles Costa Rica
24 October 2018
Greetings! today was full sun, hot and breezy…the kind of day that beckons you to be outside, but is so intense that you soon wither from the heat.
Lots of volunteer options! It started at 7am after a hearty breakfast with the VIM team from Winter Park, FL dividing into those who would travel 2+ hours to the community of La Guaria to work on installing water meters for their new system and those who would spend the day ‘in town’ talking with the English students from the adult education class and being instructed by them on how to fish with their hands.
Be patient! When the red Ford 250 truck had transmission problems a few km down the road they turned around and came back for the Montero, which put the plan for a couple of us to shadow Elías on a home health outreach visit in limbo until we could find a way to get there. As things often turn out, the red truck was repaired sufficiently to make the trek to Medio Queso, and once we confirmed with Elías that he was still available, three of us had that opportunity.
Seeing through others’ eyes! What a great learning it was to see first hand the way that basic preventive and primary intervention health care is given to families in remote communities. Elías sees 8 families/day in one of the 17 communities in his area each day. We also learned about the barriers to health care for those from Nicaragua in this area on the border that come from systemic issues, e.g., needing a Costa Rican identification number and not having documents from Nicaragua and fraudulent behaviors of employers not paying the health care withholding tax they are collecting from their laborers.
Life is not all work! The work day was a bit shorter because the schedule included a friendly soccer match between ‘the Agua Viva team’ and ‘the English Student team” at 6. We gathered at the field, divided randomly into 2 teams, and ran on the astroturf for an hour: scoring a total of 18 goals, saving many more, causing several bruises, lots of sweat, and generally laughing a lot!
Reflections go deeper! We are finding the evolution of Agua Viva Serve’s (AVS) role in creating larger water systems with communities a great lesson on how we each can develop our talents and strategies to be even keener, more effective and more sustainable. There are also many ways that the cantón (county) has changed, including new governmental housing developments, more paved streets and the installation of an exercise ‘gym’ and play ground structures in the park on the banks of Rio Frio. There are also several concerns…a 40+ day teach strike nationwide, heightened contamination of water sources from pineapple plantations, greater immigration from Nicaragua from the political unrest.
Anticipation! We are excited about a visit next week from Self Help International personnel who work in Nicaragua on water system chlorination and community development projects to learn about the water system on the Costa Rica side in La Trocha, which straddles the border. Also to know that two major water systems are in the plans for 2019 and 2020. These are great strides for this 10-year old NGO….and most importantly, AVS conveys to the community that the water they receive is a ‘gift from God’ that requires their loyal stewardship…would that we all held this value!…what a difference it could make in our world!
Abrazos y bendiciones, n & G
Updates in Los Chiles: