Since almost two years now we are supporting the construction of the school in Limón2000 as an NGO. Why are we doing it? What happened since the beginnings? And why Costa Rica as one of the richest countries in Centralamerica? The following text answers these questions and offers an interesting inside view of the field work.
3 years ago in 2015 we received a request from our NGO-partner Coalition Ministry if we could imagine to support a project in Limón2000. Don Carlos, the man in charge of Coalition Ministry, explained us, that Limón2000 is a community near to the Caribbean coast, an area suffering from the highest poverty rate in Costa Rica. Founded 2000 by the Costa Rican government, located approx. 12 km. from Limón. Socially disadvantaged were offered a house in Limón2000. Generally it seems to be very generous from the government, but the reality shows, that by now around 2000 mostly unemployed people live in Limón2000. Criminality, drug- und alcohol consume and the resulting social problems are caused by a lack of qualification possibilities and missing perspectives in terms of work.
In Limón2000 exists only one obligatory school, a highschool with something like a “short college”. Additional educational institutions do not exist. The most families are not able to afford other educational programs, also because the schools are too far away. Lack of motivation, no perspectives and isolation are the results. The kids are often quitting school before graduating and as teenagers they slid in a negative environment of crime, drugs, alcohol and early pregnancy. Furthermore a kinder garden is missing, which guarantees the supervision of children of young single mothers who have to finish school.
As a matter of fact the state of Costa Rica only supports running schools. Resources to build the school have to be raised from the community or the people in charge of the project. The Pastor of the school’s neighborhood successfully raised the first funds for the school. In 2015 Visioneers began to gather donations in Germany and sent volunteers directly to Limón2000. Meanwhile it is planned to build up a kinder garden, to ensure childcare during the timetables of the schools.
As soon the facility starts running, support from the government can be received to pay learning material and salaries for the teachers. It is possible to make applications for childcare. The payments of the state are about 200 USD per child. Parenting and education always had a high value in Costa Rica. That was a reason why already 1869 there was a law for compulsory education in highschools and the expenses were covered. The constitution of 1949, with which the military was antiquated, demands that the money which was spent on military was from that point on spent in education and schooling.
What happened since the beginning of our cooperation and for what was the funded money used?
In 2012 two married lawyers and the local church decided to build up a school in Limón2000. With the first private loan and the construction of the first groundwall the project finally began. This loan has been repayed in 3 years. After that period no more construction work took place because of lacking investments. Generally construction material in Costa Rica is very expensive. Only the cost for the first wall amounted up to 5.000 USD.
In november 2015 Visioneers sent a group of volunteers to Limón2000 to continue work on the school. The seven volunteers came from different backgrounds in terms of work and age. During that period the groundfloor and parts of the roof construction were built in teamwork with the local workers. All expenses were covered by donations.
First use of the schoolbuilding
Since the end of 2015 the school is used occasionally for childcare and special events for example a christmas celebration. The regular school hours can only begin after finishing the sanitary facilities.
In march 2016 a second group of volunteers came for nine days to Limón2000. In that time the foundation of the bathrooms were constructed. Therefore we mixed concrete and transported it through the hallway of the school to the bathrooms located at the end.
Some of the volunteers extended their stay in Limón2000, a german engineer and member of Visioneers and two teacher trainee stayed 3 weeks longer to give english class
Construction of the walls and the roofs of the bathrooms
In November 2016 a small group continued the work on the foundations in the bathrooms. Jasmin and Yannik, two volunteers of that time became very motivated for the project and returned in February 2017. They raised over 3.000 USD for constructions material. That was used for the construction of the walls and roofs of the bathrooms.
Actual situation in the schoolbuilding
The building is separated in six big rooms of similar size. Four classrooms, a conference room and an office. Irremissible for the functioning school are the sanitary facilities.
Finally we wanted to say thank you to all the volunteers who participated and for every single
donation. We have transferred the donations 100% to the project and bought construction materials such as cement, sand, stones and so on.
We also say “Muchas Gracias” to our friends in Limón2000, which helped a lot with the school. Especially Pastor Julio, who sometimes sleeps days on a small layered mattrass to keep the construction material safe against thiefs. Also thanks to all the host-families who are welcoming us always very heartwarming.
A big thanks also to our partners Don Carlos and Doña Rosario, which not only take care about us in Costa and drive us from A to B, also work hard on construction and entertain us in their funny Tico-way.