Blinking Christmas lights, plastic fir-trees and “Mi Burrito Sabanero” on repeat – here in Costa Rica, the Christmas preparations have already been up and running since October. For us, Leah and Michelle, this exciting year, 2018, is coming slowly to an end. Meanwhile, we’ve lived for almost four months now in our beachfront-WG on the Pacific coast, carrying out our weltwärts volunteer service. For all those interested and for future potential volunteers out there, here is a short synopsis about our activities on this other end of the world.
The project in which we’re involved is called UNO+. The name means "a further" and refers to the goal of leading us all onto the right path in positively changing the world. UNO+ was founded in 2013 in our current home Esterillos Oeste and is close to the local Christian community Pura Vida Church. As part of the project, up to 30 children and adolescents aged 6 to 13 are looked after in this village as well as in each of three other locations.
The processes within the UNO+ projects often look similar. First, there is a mealtime for all children. Then begin small tutorials in which arithmetic, reading, English or similar subjects are practiced. Even small handcrafts are part of the programme, as well as the teaching of Bible stories.
In the meantime, we increasingly contribute to the core mission of UNO+. For example, October was themed "Cultures." For a week, we brought Ticos closer to German culture. In addition, every week, we prepare tutorials for learning English.
As our work with UNO+ takes place only during afternoons, we also work each morning in the local kindergarten and help with the care of 3-5 year olds. We spend our free time during the workweek preparing tutorials, crafts and games. In addition, we do extra work for VISIONEERS: We create the monthly newsletters and manage the blog. Our working life is therefore highly varied and does not follow any typical 40-hour week.
Now to our place of residence: Esterillos Oeste is a small village, located on the Pacific coast. Characteristics of the area include the nearby beach (a 2-minutes-walk from the apartment), many parishes, with cackling chickens, packed streets and a small supermarket.
A very village lifestyle, but owing to the holiday feeling on the beach, life quality is also high. The farm we live on is full of contrasts: grandparents, an aunt,
a landlady with her husband and daughter are symbols of lively, spirited Ticos. Punctually at six o'clock every morning the rooster crows. The family does not go to bed overly late – at 6 pm it’s already pitch dark outside. Accordingly, the next morning, everyone is early back on their feet. Our roommates on the farm include as well chickens, cats, dogs, cockroaches, ants, and papaya- banana- and orange-trees.
We also think it's great that the grandfather sells fresh coconuts and different types of ice cream!
In the village, there are several hotels that attract a lot of tourists, especially during the dry season. Many immigrants from the United States or Canada have even lived here for several years on this beach paradise.
As Costa Rica is located in the tropics, it is characterised by two seasons: The rainy season runs from May to November at temperatures of about 25-30 °C; The dry season goes from December to April and brings temperatures of 30 to 40 °C. Due to the geographical location, the temperatures are, as such, very high.
Finally, a word about our WG life: Of course, it’s a change if one suddenly has to handle all household chores (cleaning, cooking, laundry) without parents. As privacy is scarce, beach walks are a great way to have some time for yourself and some free space. It takes some time to get used to everything that’s so new and get into the routine. But it's worth it and one always has someone to talk to and obtain support from. One gets on despite so many culture shocks or failed attempts at cooking, as one’s never alone and has quite a lot to learn from.
Should you have questions about our work, please do not hesitate to contact us by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.