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Our experience volunteering in Costa Rica with rural communities

Home | Costa Rica | Our Natural Resource Management Project in Costa Rica

Morning Volunteering

As a team, we have spent the last two weeks working on constructing a cabin, which required us to dig 56 holes in the newly cleared and flattened ground. Alongside this, we have been widening the small, pre-existing trail and cutting in steps to make it safer and more accessible to encourage eco-tourism in the village of Matambú.

Volunteers in the woods cutting trees for cabin

We cut up a fallen tree across a path on this particular day. We used this wood to construct a bridge over a stream that flowed over the track. It was tricky work and required a lot of communication, and coordination as a team (as well as physical strength). Thankfully our efforts were rewarded with a refreshing drink of Mozonte made from the Mozonte tree by Don Ezequiel and his wife Gladys.

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Ground work design of the cabin

By then, it felt like an age since breakfast, and we all appreciated our tuna and crackers for lunch. This was followed up with oranges from the tree that grows next to our table and a rush for the two showers to cool down in the cold water.

The afternoon brought a new set of challenges; we had arranged to visit the local primary school, run by Vivian, one of Don Ezequiel’s ten siblings. Splitting into three groups, we held sessions in three different classes with 9-12-year-olds. Our lesson focused on the importance of recycling and the development goals for the younger years since we had seen rubbish lying around and no proper recycling system during our time in Matambu.

For the 6th grade, we aimed to improve their self-esteem and encourage them to take pride in their community. This was because Vivian was concerned by the numerous reports of children being bullied once they went to high school, in Nicoya, due to their indigenous roots.

Group teaching kids geography in matambu

Lunch Time & Afternoon Volunteering Focus

This visit allowed us to embrace the culture of the local community. This is particularly important as we are the first Raleigh group to come to Matambu, and they have been incredibly welcoming and generous toward us. It also allowed us to practice our Spanish, which has been quickly improving with the help of our Costa Rican and Nicaraguan team members.

All in all, it proved to be a long (but rewarding) day, and by sundown, we were all looking forward to our large portions of mac ‘n’ cheese and a chance to wind down playing card games and werewolf – a game our group takes very seriously!

Words by Alpha 4 Volunteers: Lucy Hubbard and Sandy Steven

Images by Photographer: Petra Polakova

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