Thursday, November 06, 2008
Everywhere I look I see need, and you can help me to help them.
The Cabecar, Costa Rica’s most primitive Indigenous group live on the Chirripo Reservation, part of which borders my farm. They have nothing, and they ask for nothing. It breaks my heart to see their children pass my house and come into my life because I can not look away.
This family came to us on their way down, an 8 hour walk from their home, and today they are returning to the reservation. They picked coffee this week to earn a little money. They just left my house, it is noon and they will walk up to 6,000 foot elevation, to their village, in the rain. It will take 8 hours which puts them there about 8 this evening, in the pitch black, cold dark. So dark, with no light pollution, that I can not see my own hand.
Please look at this typical Cabecar family. The Mother is a beautiful young girl herself, with big dimples and the most beautiful skin. She has the blue colored basket. Do you see the young child, just a baby himself, carrying the other baby tied to his body and head. They are eating a frozen iced fruit treat that Dona Carmen, a local woman makes.
I asked permission to take these photos and the father said yes. I took his photo first and when I showed him his picture he could not believe it was him. He had never seen himself before. He burst out laughing with his hand across his mouth. Really, was this really him? Yes it was.
The Cabecar are tiny people. A medium shirt fits the largest man. My hands (I have large hands for a woman) could fit around this woman’s waist, and she has had at least 5 children that survived child birth. Today I gave them my last 3 sweatshirts.
Please collect sweatshirts for them, it is cold at 6,000 ft. There are between 10,000 and 14,000 people living on the reservation. I only see the young ones as the others are not capable of making the journey. The girls and woman need skirts, they love skirts. They all need rain gear, sweatshirts, back packs, and tote bags.
I need small clothes for the children. Look at these little faces, these are Costa Rica’s first people. They were here before Columbus, before the Spanish, and their life has been downhill ever since as they fled to the high country to avoid extinction. The Cabecar are direct descendants of the Guayabo people. You can visit the Guayabo National Park in Turrialba to learn more about their historic life.
They are human beings, sweet, passive people, who will drucken rather than confront you. I reach out to them every chance I get. I want to know where they came from, why they are here, and I want them to know that I am their friend, to whom they can come for help. The difficulty of their life breaks my heart.
As American’s we are so concerned about our children’s childhoods. We want the best for our children. I have a bow tie sitting on my desk that I made for my son to wear when he was a very little boy. And now I see these little elfin children and I don’t even have enough shirts to keep them warm. As many a 25 people will sleep laying on the reeds of a huts floor, huddled together for warmth. They have the clothing on their backs and maybe one other outfit. Look at them, this is their life, and I am the one who is having difficulty with it.
Okay, I know I must let them be Indigenous, but we must also allow them to be proud of their heritage. Why should they be cold, sick, live with internal parasites, have dysentery, fever and become delusional? They should not, and this is where we can help. When the parents are picking coffee the oldest child is babysitting the other children on the side of the road. (It takes me 40 minutes to drive this distance, they walk) Why can’t the children be at the local school receiving early or primary education? Imagine what all of the children could learn from this relationship, tolerance, understanding, and Cabecar history. We can do this, Steven’s Mom cares for her young child, it would be wonderful if we could find a little money to pay her and start a preschool program. What would this cost? No more than $50.00 a week including lunch and breakfast, all of the children in the village could go. I am sure that Angie would help after school and we could find a few dollars for this intelligent young woman in our little budget. How many children are we talking about? It would vary from about 8 to as many as 20 or more depending on how many Indigenous were here that week. Wow, we could change a lot of lives for less than $7.00 a day. Imagine, these children could enter school knowing how to read. That is a big deal as many of their parents can only make their thumb print. Can you help me to make this come true? Will you commit to help finance this program?
Please facilitate me, they need crayons, pencils, skirts, and sweatshirts, size medium and smaller. They need children’s clothes, practical wash and wear clothing. Last week there was a young girl half naked in her rags, and my husband was deeply disturbed. We should all be deeply disturbed, as human being we have an obligation to care for these poor and beautiful people, Costa Rica’s first people. If you are coming to Costa Rica or know someone who is, please send an old suitcase of clothing and supplies for the Cabecar. You can put the suitcase in a cab and for a small amount of money a cab driver will deliver the gift to the Pura Vida Hotel just 15 minutes from the airport. Please go to their website and print out the directions and phone number for the cab driver. Please put my name on the suitcase and Bernie will call me for a pickup. I will then ask the Mission to pickup the gift when they are in San Jose and bring it to us . Thank you.
People often ask me is we can meet them at the airport. It is simply not possible. We live 3 hours from San Jose and I go near there maybe once a year, by bus, if I have to. Logistically it does not work for us not to mention the $40.00 in gas added to a day’s journey, if your plane arrives on time. I hope you understand. We are farmers, and our 1,270 acres requires every minute of every day.
Yesterday and today we are building gabbions, boxes of rocks in steel cages, to keep the flooded streams from washing away the road that is currently in peril. The men will spend the rest of the day starting to plant 4,000 trees, or at least relocating them to the nursery. I rarely get a day off and if I do, we only get as far as Turrialba to do our banking and shopping. Felipe treats me to a dinner date while we are in town. The big city (San Jose) is not for me. Sorry, I just can not cross the mountain range and drive there. This is where we need to be. As you can see from my posts, we have important work to do.