Riding on the generosity of our donors, in partnership with Costa Rica’s non-profit, CEPIA (Culture, Education and Psychology for Infants and Adolescents) Downtown Ecommerce Partners (DEP) recently had the honor of feeding seven local Costa Rican families for one year.
While that may sound impressive, what will further impress you is how little money can do so much. We raised $4,100.
It all started with DEP’s core value of caring. We keep this one close at all times. We care about the people with whom we work, the ones we leave at home when we go to work, but also the communities around us. The great thing about having offices in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, we have more than enough opportunity to demonstrate this core belief. Costa Rica is beautiful, true, but to the people community is everything.
Inspired by the organization Feed Starving People, and fueled by the great fortune of an intimate experience by our founder, Patrick, (You can read about that mission here) we set out to act in our community
When we planned this campaign last year, we set the bar high, maybe too high. Our goal was to make a real difference in as many lives as possible.
In the end, we may not have met our $10,000 target (this time), but we made a serious dent, steeling our resolve for our next campaign. More than our own wants, we discovered firsthand what the Stones meant by, “you can’t always get what you want…”
We needed to make a difference. We needed the motivation to go farther next time. We needed to forget all our personal problems and get lost in all the wonderful feelings that come from caring for others.
Our story starts with the families, covers how the selection process works, what they received from our efforts, then what we ultimately got out of it. We hope it’s as inspiring to you as it was to us.
We had the good fortune to meet some of these families, see how they lived, and even help offer them immediate assistance last year. You can read more about it here.
Standing on the dirt interior of one home with breezes blowing through where a wall once stood, was an emotional experience. Your natural human instinct is to do something. “
Surely,” you tell yourself, “I could build a wall or put food in this empty fridge. That day, we did, but the reality we were facing was more than a trip to the supermarket one time.
We helped seven families in total, for a year, but only a year. For these families, it means they have food for the next year, but they also have the chance to make their own opportunities. We’ll come back to that in a minute.
You can find the faces of the families throughout this blog. Wherever possible, we’ve provided images so you can see the real people we were able to help.
How Families Were Selected
CEPIA selects families using three dimensions of defining poverty, health, education, and standard of living.
These are further divided into sub-dimensions, which are nutrition and mental or physical illness under health. Years of schooling (9th grade) and school attendance fall under education.
Cooking fuel, sanitation, electricity, and water, floor, assets, father or family support and access to public transportation contribute to the living standard.
To define poverty, a family must be deficient somewhere in all three dimensions. Falling short in just one dimension may not constitute poverty under this program.
What They Got Out of it
Families who qualify receive an allotment of food. It varies based on the needs of each family. CEPIA purchases food via providers in Costa Rica.
Women of the household are responsible for making arrangements to pick up their package of food. Expectations are they will volunteer for four hours per week, working for CEPIA, and they will attend weekly professional training.
If necessary, they are asked to attend counseling, but all women attend monthly group empowerment sessions. CEPIA provides these elements of the program to ensure they involved with the process as much as possible.
Participants understand this isn’t a handout. Most of them wouldn’t’ have it any other way. Kids with low grades even receive tutoring. This whole arrangement is a contract, signed by all.
Elements of the contract may include but aren’t limited to maintenance of their property, like picking up trash, but also may include domestic activities like putting kids to bed on time or seeing that they brush their teeth.
In many cases, CEPIA is teaching them to care about themselves again.
What We Got Back
It’s easy to get lost matching paint samples with the new comforter, sorting through family members to find one we’ll speak to, and creating every problem in our privileged lives.
Shaking ourselves from this self-absorbed tree is as simple as giving it away. Yes, we mean money, but more importantly for us this experience has been the time spent, and about caring enough to do something.
During the time we spent working on this, the garbage of our own lives seemed planets away. In fact, after seeing how people live, upon returning to earth, those parts of our lives seem more tolerable.
In the end, we’re the fortunate ones, not for what we have but what we take. We walked with so much joy from this experience. It’s easy to see how people get wrapped up with giving it away.
We did. We will again.
Thank you to our donors, to all who contributed time or money. We set out to do something more than just face another day. That’s what we needed. We got it. It’s all thanks to you.
Thank you for caring, but thank you for letting us learn how to care better.
If you would like to contribute to the fund, there’s still time. Follow this link to donate. Thank you in advance for caring.
What follows are the rest of the families we were able to help.
Categorised in: Downtown Ecommerce
This post was written by downtownecommerce_admin