“The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but reveal to them their own.” ~ Disraeli
Having recently stumbled upon this quote, I was inspired to write a post. As I continue to reflect back on my journey through Costa Rica there are still so many people and places that I would like to talk about.
In my initial days in the Chilamate area, Randall spoke that one of the most important parts of our interactions with the people would be that we offer them hope and support for their dreams and that we acknowledge the beauty of the area in which they live. In my last post, I spoke of Daniel and used the Field of Dreams quote, "If you build it, they will come". Daniel already had the support and acknowledgement that he needed to get started. However, my afternoon with Myra and her husband continues to resonate with me. Empty Nesters. Dreaming.
I apologise in advance that a) I have no idea if that is how you spell Myra's name and b) that I can't recall her husband's name. But it's not the names that are important, it's the story. They live in the community which we resided in, not far from the school. And so, on Sunday afternoon we walked down for a cooking lesson. Myra was to teach us how to make empanadas and we were to pretend that Olga had not already taught us at our lunch a few days before. That would likely be easy, I wasn't that good at making the little buggers anyway.
Having spent the morning on a hike, we were apparently late and Myra and her husband had already eaten. Traditional fare it was, no empanadas to be made. We did get a quick cooking lesson, but mainly Kristen and I prepped vegetables to be placed into the pot. When we sat down with rice, beans, bread, fried pork, potatoes, salad, multiple flavors of juice etc... I felt like it was Thanksgiving Day and Kristen and I looked across the table at each other as more and more dishes came out thinking, "how do we even begin?" One thing is for sure, Costa Rican's like their big feeds.
During our lunch we spoke to them about some of the questions we had been asked to reflect upon during our community interactions. Healthcare, Education and Jobs. What resonated with me during this conversation is that they informed us that jobs in the area were scarce and unsustainable and that the only ones that lasted were the ones at the Eco Lodge with Meghan and Davis. (I will certainly be doing a post soon on these amazing people)
Another thing that resonated with me was the problem with education in community. Myra was the one to tell us that the reading level of the children finishing at Linda Vista in sixth grade is that of a first grader. With no fault to the teacher Cecilia, she said, it's just too hard to teach that diverse of a group as well as you would like. I continued to think about the possibility of some of the women in the community volunteering to help, but my thoughts were knocked down immediately when Myra then informed us that while she would love to volunteer at the school (and has about 6 grown children of her own), she can't because she doesn't have children there. This makes me extremely sad.
While I thought, "It's Just Lunch", I was very wrong. We spent the next hour or two hanging out at this lovely home and hearing more about how they spend their days, and the trials and tribulations of living in this part of Chilamate. We were offered a guided tour where we learned about their chickens, pigs and horses. We also had the opportunity to do some physical labor as we put our muscles to use making sugar cane juice. And lastly, as the others sipped coffee and tried some of her amazing cheese (it wasn't really cheese but it was kind of cheese-not sure what to call it-and it was AMAZING) we discussed moving forward.
Myra and her husband have many dreams. First and foremost Myra hopes to start a Women's Association to help the women of the area develop greater self-worth, enable them to help one another with childcare, with the hope that it would allow them to investigate jobs and assist in education. The Women's Association would likely come with grants and some of the working dreams of the women could be financed that way.
Myra and her husband would also like to expand their farm. Due to financial constraints they are only able to sell and produce certain amounts of their dairy products. And while they do sell to the community, they would love to be able to get a few more animals and make it a more profitable business. In addition, they would love to be able to offer horseback riding to tourists. This is a costly endeavor with liability and insurance. How do they even begin? They sit on their farm and wonder...
It was a wonderful afternoon and as I left I kept thinking... MICRO FINANCE!! Of course that was the "lense" I often found myself looking through in my "Chilamate Rainforest Glasses". But as we finished our afternoon with these lovely people I was sure to acknowledge the riches they already had, the dreams and plans as inspirational, and the emotional backing from a woman in San Francisco.