Costa Rica

We are serving Nicaraguan refugee families in La Carpio slum. Within this slum is  Las Gradas, an area inaccessible by car and built into the side of a cliff, named for the 125 steps that are surrounded by makeshift homes.

This slum was formed in the 1990s on the outskirts of San José, surrounded by polluted rivers and a garbage dump. Today it occupies 155 acres and has about 52,000 inhabitants –  largely Nicaraguans who have fled turmoil in their home country. They live in extreme poverty but are working hard to make a life for their families. One of the largest concerns for the community is sexual abuse, which most children and their mothers have experienced in one form or another. Drug and alcohol abuse, gang activity, and prostitution are also common problems faced These are the people we are reaching.

Las Gradas slum is built into the side of a cliff facing a river. The families work in coffee farms across the river and carry their children across the dangerous river as they go to work each day.

Next to this river is Las Gradas Betel (CFCI-CR), where CoLaboradores Internacionales missionaries serve providing services to the women and children including basic education, emotional intelligence/ mental wellness groups, counseling services, food, hygiene, arts and crafts activities, and vocational training to the parents. This locally-led effort was founded by Marielos, a Costa Rican therapist. Staff members grew up in the community, once in the same place as these children. This is where hope lives and the rebirth of a community is happening.

 

STATS:

More than 350,000 Nicaraguan refugees live in Costa Rica, which is 80% of the foreign population there.

Since 2018, Costa Rica has received over 77,000 refugee applications from Nicaraguans that were fleeing violence and persecution.

Few resources are available to shelter and provide food to new asylum seekers.

During 2020, 47% of Nicaraguans in Costa Rica were living in poverty. More than three-quarters of which could only eat only once a day.

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