Breaking ground and building strong foundations - January update.
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Breaking ground, building strong foundations - January update.

A pastor, a plumber and a pleb get on a plane...

It may sound like the opening to a bad joke, but that's exactly what
happened before the Christmas break, as our motley-crew-of-three, Martin, Chris and I, boarded a flight bound for Costa Rica!

We felt fortunate to be going out to what is said to be among the most beautiful countries on the planet, but we knew our task was only to develop a better link with the Los Guido community project and report back to our Overseas Projects Team when we returned.

Recce visit overview

As the latest project we'd elected to support, our brief was to discover the needs of those living in Los Guido and how well the project is already doing at meeting these and then exactly what and how much we could offer to raise.

We knew over six months in advance that the major 'Ask' was towards some of the ongoing running costs as well as what was to be the next stage in their planned building expansion. Using the money that members of the team had already raised towards the project we had agreed to bring a first installment that would cover building the foundation bases for a new building which will create a dynamic space that has been designed to make the most effective use of the grounds they own for community ends. Helpfully, the lead pastor 'Elgin' of La Amistad Church that we've partnered with is a trained architect and had over the past year been consulting with William to agree on the design of a multi-purpose space that could double their current capacity.

It was clear that William and his team of volunteers were well organised and keen to make best use of the time we would be there. We arrived at San Jose airport on a warm, muggy Tuesday night having set off from London Heathrow in what seemed an ambitiously warm Monday for a November morning. Ignoring any concern for jet-lag, by the Wednesday morning we were put straight to work, with the 'Maestro' calling the shots and a few local lads who shared a lot of the labour-intensive work, swinging sledge hammers and pick-axes to break through concrete foundations and then digging metre deep ditches for the new foundation pillars.

On the first morning, a few minutes before we arrived on site, we were met by police cars, red cross ambulances and a crowd of the locals blocking a single width, barrier-less bridge over a ravine. We later learned that three members of a local drug cartel had been murdered overnight and their bodies found dumped under the bridge earlier that morning. It was a sober start to the week that delivered us a strong message about the harsh reality of life here.

It was clear testament to the resilience and commitment to the cause by William and the team he had brought together that in spite of the tense atmosphere and what may have become a fairly volatile situation, they decided to stick to the plan and not reschedule the building work. We came away after a week's work feeling that we had been a part of a project that had shown it 'meant business' come rain or shine, tragedy or break through.

It was actually forecast tropical rain all the time we were set to be in San Jose, as it turned out the rain held off so we had a clear week-long window to complete the work. On the last day we rested, we headed to the beach, all set with a bbq and hammocks to tie between coconut trees - it was the classic paradise setting - we had barely taken a bite of our food when the heavens opened and thunder started rolling in. We were about to pack up and head home when we got an unexpected and what felt a heaven-appointed treat that none of us will be forgetting any time soon! From beneath one of our hammocks, out of a small hole poured dozens of baby leatherback turtles, clambering over each other and across the sand and off into the waves. Just an awesome experience to have shared - we left the beach drenched but buzzing, not that we deserved to, but feeling totally rewarded!

If you've read this and would like to find out more about the project, would like to help us fund raise or contribute to the project in some way or even if you're interested in practicing your spanish speaking skills (no matter how sketchy you are) then feel free to chat with or contact Pancho, Martin or Chris.

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