A project to build healthy communities through poverty reduction in rural Costa Rica
WHO WE ARE:
Proyecto San Gerardo was founded in 2007 and is a registered NGO in Costa Rica and a Rose Charities Canada project. We provide skills-training, scholarships and job opportunities focusing especially on the needs of women and young rural Costa Ricans in the southern sector of the country.
THE PROJECT BACKGROUND:
Costa Rica’s rural population, especially in the south, has fallen far behind their city cousins in access to affordable education and adequately paying jobs. The typical family of 6 survives on $250/month with typical monthly food bills of over $120 alone. Proyecto San Gerardo has been offering an opportunity to local people in the villages of Rivas, Perez Zeledón, to stay in their communities and acquire income-generating skills since we were asked to teach English in 2006. Every year an average of 200 students benefit from our English, Computer Skills, Business skills, First Aid and Apprenticeship courses as well as many more enjoying partial to full high school and university scholarships. We currently provide employment to 3 local women and this year we will expand to 6 to accommodate the demand for Proyecto San Gerardo’s activities.
WHAT WE DO:
TEACH – we provide job-ready English classes free at all levels to youth and adults in 3 villages. Our certified volunteer teachers taught 45 students in 2012. Students with English skills are more likely to find work in the tourist sector locally.
-we teach basic computer skills courses, internet/email skills and some advanced programs thanks to the generous, regular donation of laptops from Vancity Savings Credit Union. Computer skills are now considered basic in job acquisition in Costa Rica and in 2012 65 students finished their programs.
VOCATIONAL TRAINING – annually we provide practical apprenticeship training in our café to help 6 young women qualify for suitable employment.
Bi-annually we offer First Aid and Disaster Preparedness Training thanks to the special assistance of volunteers from the American Red Cross and Canadian Red Cross. Because of the remoteness of the area and lack of access to hospitals and emergency services it’s important that the community is as prepared as possible for any emergency.
SCHOLARSHIPS – started in 2010 we now provide on average 10 – 12 scholarships annually to students in high school and university. The idea is to keep students in school and provide some assistance to students who wish to enter higher education. All our students work in our community café or help out with local programs in recognition of the assistance they receive. In 2013 we will provide over $4000 worth of scholarships to local students. You can support a student from as little as $100 a year – contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
EMPLOYMENT – currently we provide jobs for three local women, but shortly we will expand to six positions due to added demand for Proyecto San Gerardo’s programs and thanks to the generous support of Canadian donors. Working as coordinators, Spanish teachers to our volunteers, and chefs our staff gain valuable experience within a supportive environment in order to secure long term positions in the future. LOCAL CAFÉ AND FARMER’S MARKET – our centre is Café Bambú in the center of San Gerardo de Rivas. Here we conduct many of our classes, provide a playgroup for local children aged 3 – 6 and once a week host a popular Farmer’s Market. The market or feria attracts buyers from near and far and provides small farmers a chance to sell their produce locally. We focus on organic produce and at the same time offer cooking classes given by the same producers to tourists who want to learn to cook ‘tico’.
WWW.SANGERARDOCOSTARICA.COM – Proyecto San Gerardo and the community launched a local website in 2007 to promote local businesses and activities to tourists visiting the area. We are located on the flanks of Mt. Chirripó, the second highest mountain in Central America, and backpackers appreciate the extra information and the village certainly gains from faster and more efficient reservations.
VOLUNTEER PROGRAM – our volunteers come from many countries including Canada, USA, Ireland, England, Germany, Argentina and Costa Rica. Those teaching classes are all certified and everyone commits to a minimum term. Our volunteers spend between 6 weeks and a full year living with local families in Homestays. They learn Spanish, join in family activities and make lots of new friends exchanging cultural know-how and ideas. We provide 8 local families the opportunity to host a student annually.
The volunteers consider their work in Costa Rica as well as their experience of another country and culture to be extremely valuable. They learn or improve their Spanish and experience satisfaction in contributing to the local community. Said one volunteer, Barbara: “This volunteer experience has been so worthwhile and rewarding for me. I thoroughly enjoyed the people, the classes, the town. An experience I shall never forget.”
If you would like to support Proyecto San Gerardo at Rose Charities through a donation towards our scholarships, classes or sustainable employment programs we would be most grateful. We also offer a number of volunteer opportunities in Costa Rica for teachers, community developers, artists, café staff and web designers. Please make your donation HERE (select Project San Gerardo from the fund dropdown) and for more information, or to contact us, visit http://www.sangerardocostarica.com/get-involved/proyecto-san-gerardo/