Our Affiliated Site: The Costa Rica Center in San Jose, Costa Rica

facts about the Costa Rica Center:

  • Grade-level served: Kindergarten – 12th
  • Facility description: The site uses a borrowed community space for monthly meetings with children and mothers.
  • Academic year: Typically begins in February and ends in early December. Students enjoy summer break from mid-December to early February, and a short winter break in July.
  • Nutrition: Each enrolled child receives a food basket once a month, and mothers struggling with poverty receive emotional support. The center also hosts special events for Christmas and other holidays for the children and their mothers to attend.
  • Basic needs: As with all of our affiliated sites, our volunteer coordinators determine the individual needs of each sponsored child, and those basic needs are provided to them on a regular basis. Items include but are not limited to clothing, shoes, food, bedding for the home, hygiene items, medications, eyeglasses, school supplies — all which help them overcome the barriers they face coming from impoverished households.

Situated in the Central American Isthmus, Costa Rica is a land rich in natural beauty including tropical rainforest, volcanoes and lakes. It shares borders with Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the south, the Caribbean Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Despite its status as one of the most stable, prosperous and progressive nations in Latin America — and one of the most ecofriendly in the world — Costa Rica struggles beneath a threatened economy and social unrest. Its lenient immigration laws invite a flood of immigrants from neighboring countries. As a result, the country has seen a dramatic increase in unemployment, poverty, inflation and crime.

San Jose, where nearly a quarter of the nation’s population resides, is no exception. Amid one of San Jose’s impoverished shantytown districts, the Costa Rica Center has long served as a beacon of hope and a safe haven. The center was first established in 1887 by the nuns of the Order of St. Vincent of Paul as a much-needed daycare for children of single, working mothers. The center has since expanded its objective. Today, it strives to provide underprivileged children in the area with basic needs, and imparts these deserving children with the tools and preparation they need in order to rise above the difficult socioeconomic circumstances from which they come.