Richman reflects on her community trip to Costa Rica

The group participating in an activity

“Helping one person may not change the whole world, but it could change the world for one person.”

I lived by that saying for eleven days and took it back to share with my friends and family. This summer, I had the privilege to go on an eleven-day community service trip to Costa Rica, where I was fortunate enough to give back to people living in poverty. Many of the kids and families I worked with lived in harsh conditions, often squeezing several people into small spaces. 

This trip not only brought friendships, fun, and adventures but allowed for reflection on my personal good fortune. 

For the first 3 days, I worked with a nonprofit organization called Siempre Amigos based in Brasilito, Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica. Siempre Amigos’ aims  to unify the forces and energies of foreign and local volunteers to work together to reduce conditions of poverty and, in turn, forge empathy, understanding, and unification of diverse cultures, striving towards a more equitable and just world. For this first organization, I painted and cleaned up their local community center, made cement, painted walls, and helped construct houses that these families could call home. I also forged relationships with the Ticos and community people, taught the local children some English, played games, and created bonds. 

Over the next few days, I adventured through Costa Rica, trying new things, stepping out of my comfort zone, and learning about different cultures. 

The second organization I worked with was TECHO, based in San Pedro, Costa Rica. TECHO offers an opportunity to work with a triple impact, tangible and short-term tool that generates value in a company, the environment, and for the collaborators. In the three days I spent with TECHO, the group I worked with split up between a few houses in the community to create a water system for each home. With a lot of hard work and dedication, we created a gutter system allowing rainwater to be used as hose water, to flush the toilet, and for other needs. 

Experiencing a family’s smiling face when we left made me proud. During the eleven-day trip, I cherished my time with communities in Costa Rica. I found it interesting to experience other traditions and cultures beyond what one consumed on TV. I learned to never underestimate the difference you can make in the lives of others. 

Step forward, reach out, explore and help. Pura Vida – Pure Life!