After volunteering in India, Vietnam, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa I stopped by Costa Rica before returning to Canada. I immediately fell in love with the tropical country and the warm and welcoming people of Costa Rica.
My homestay was an amazing Costa Rican cultural experience. I still remember my host mama’s delicious Costa Rican meals. Every day we had our dinner together as a family. The two kids, who were around 10-11 years old, would ask me to help them with their English homework and in return they would try and teach me a few Spanish words.
On my first day of volunteering, my host mama showed me how the transit system worked and where I would get on and off the bus to get to La casa de Los Ninos. Approximately 50 to 60 kids, ranging in age from 2 to 11, would come to the soup kitchen around noon. The first thing they would do is wash their hands and then lineup for rice, beans and milk. Once they would finish their meal, we would hand them their daily vitamins and gummy bear treats. After lunch, it was play time for the children while the volunteers cleaned the kitchen. Some of the kids joined the volunteers and helped us clean up as well. To them, cleaning up was just another fun activity.
As we spent more time with the children, we got to know them better and tried to understand their daily lives and family backgrounds. Many of the kids had a very harsh upbringing. Some had been sexually abused and some had been exposed to drugs and guns at a very early age. It makes you wonder where we have come as humanity when a child does not get a chance to experience a “normal” childhood filled with joy and innocence.
At the soup kitchen, these children got a chance to play with other kids, have nice warm meals and temporarily forget about their daily problems.