Although I've not been giving regular updates on our fundraising efforts, work continues behind the scenes. My friend, Steve, who is a director at his Rotary Club, in California, and I are still trying to find a way to bring our project to life in the community. It takes time, The last thing we want is to bulldoze in like a brazen North Americans and tell the community what they need. What we really want is to get to know the people and let them tell us what their needs are, and for that to happen, we have to slowly integrate in a natural way. So, Kevin and I are participating in ways that allow the people of Rio Blanco and Copey to get to know us a bit better and hopefully we can earn their trust. Seidy, one of the directors of the Copey Learning Center, and I are planning four community meetings: with the kids, with the teenagers, with the women and with the men. This meeting was supposed to happen way back in February, but Seidy has been so busy with the Copey Learning Center and the volunteers and I've been busy attending to guests with Kevin that we decided to postpone it. We met this morning to get back on track. The idea is to ask the groups to give us their wish list. What opportunities would they like to see in their small towns? The sky is the limit right now, so we're going to ask them to dream big... then we'll work from there. If we hear some common themes then we'll know better how to spend our energies.
Also, the gentleman who came to visit the center and Hush Valley Lodge back in January, Arthur, has been in regular contact with us. He's writing a proposal to his Kiwanis club to specifically help the Copey Learning Center. The center has a long list of needs and wants in order to offer sustainable programs, so the fact that Arthur is in the United States right now working on our behalf is pretty amazing! But this is how it's done... one person at a time, touching the lives of other people so they in turn can help themselves and pay it forward by helping others. It's a beautiful things. Arthur is planning another trip to Costa Rica in October. It will be nice to see him again and see how this project develops.
As for our little one-room school in Rio Blanco, well, the kitchen is several steps closer to being completely done. With the funds I was able to raise last fall, they've added windows, handmade cabinet doors, fixed the concrete wall that was falling apart: it's all looking great! Clara, who cooks for the kids everyday, enjoys the bright, cheerful, clean environment and the kids seem happy, too. Having said that, we need to raise more money to add an extractor fan and to build new tables and benches. And the school needs funds for educational materials: books, maps, computer programs, ink for the printer, etc. So, the community is organizing a community FUN DAY. This year we are offering a guided trail hike (on our property). Roberto's brother, Thomas, is a tour guide and is very excited to be able to show people from Copey and other towns what Rio Blanco has to offer. Wouldn't it be great if they saw a quetzal? I will be serving fresh lemonade and some fruit at the half-way mark. Then, there will be the fishing contest at Martin's place. People from the community donate some of their fish for this purpose. Some of the fish are really big. The person who catches the biggest fish wins their fish and a prize. They did this last year and it was a huge success. Then we'll have traditional Costa Rican games for the kids. Kevin and I have introduced the committee to 'Horseshoes'. They had never heard or seen this game before. Yesterday, we brought the game out to show them and they loved it. People will pay a nominal amount for each throw, the one who gets their horseshoe closest to the pole wins. My students, Roger and Jose, both said they want to come just so they can try this game. Kevin and I also suggested a 50/50 draw. The committee had never heard of this type of lottery, so they were very excited to add it to the list. And then, at the end of the day, there's a Bingo. Bingo seems to be the big draw for any kind of fundraising event and of course the food... lots of food.
This week is a very busy one. One of the things Kevin and I are learning is that the community is really gung-ho about having this fundraising day, but it's always the same handful of people who do all the work. So, Kevin and I will be lending a hand as well. We need to prep all the vegetable and rice for the tamales. Someone has to clean all the banana leaves.. it's not hard work, just tedious and time consuming, but it won't get done by itself. No pixie dust here. We will be starting tomorrow to help with all that. Although it's a lot of work, gathering with our neighbours, having a good laugh in the process I'm sure, is what it's all about anyway. All the money in the world does not make a community... it's the people who do. So, we will gladly roll up our sleeves and help the regular cast members of Martin, Clara, Nachoo, Poala, Diana, Adriana, Roberto, the teacher Elizabeth, Cindy, Albarro and his mother Mira get the job done.
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Dave and Krista are a couple from the Pacific Northwest that led overwhelmingly busy lives.
Click here to pick up your copy of Anne's book! It's all about their adventure and the establishment of Hush Valley Lodge: from leaving their middle-class suburban lifestyle in Canada to reinventing themselvess in the beautiful mountains of Costa Rica. Check it out and if you enjoy it, please spread the word! Thanks!