Two years ago, while building a court in southern Costa Rica, we stumbled across a community called Cocori. This community had a profound impact on our group, as it was situated on the outskirts of the county garbage dump. We couldn’t ignore the images of the kids chasing Frisbees through the trash without shoes.
Needless to say, when the community identified a lack of safe places for their kids to play as one of their most pressing needs, and applied for us to partner with them to build a sports court, we were thrilled!
Fast forward to this spring break, where the project became a reality and we sent a team of 31 students and adults from SW Washington schools to build this court and participate in the life of the community. The project was a partnership with Alex Stanchfield, a Peace Corps Volunteer who was stationed in Cocori shortly after our group visited two years ago.
The court was completed, the team worked hard, and they had opportunities to spend time in the schools, play games with the children, eat local food, spend some time in the garbage dump, and soak up the entire experience. We are confident that this trip impacted them forever. Many of them want to go back to Costa Rica, in fact, one of the team members is spending this summer back in Costa Rica, helping at a school among other things!
No community has thrown such a lavish celebration when the court was officially opened. Complete with name tags, gifts for our team members, ribbon cutting, it was very evident that Cocori was excited with its new addition.
When the court was complete and the kids were playing basketball, I felt like I had completed something with meaning for the first time in my life. I’ve completed tasks in my life, and school projects, but nothing can compare to what I did in Costa Rica. I helped impact an entire community, words can’t describe that feeling. I wish the kids of Cocori could know how much they impacted our lives. On this trip I learned a lot about myself, and what life is truly about. Just because I’ll be arriving back in America doesn’t mean I have to stop making a difference.
This trip was truly amazing. The atmosphere was so relaxed and the people are incredibly friendly. I was at first very frustrated at the fact that there were no clocks, but then I realized that it was better to live without one. Back at home, everyone is so rushed and is so busy that the basic gestures of kindness are often ignored. The school was so grateful to us for volunteering our time. It was amazing to see how a basketball court can make a community so amazed and happy.
Being with the kids has made me a more kind and compassionate person. We are all humans and deserve the same respect and kindness, and to help each other.
The project was so well organized and the building of the court went so smoothly. I was proud to be a small part of making this happen for the kids in Cocori! At one point my son said to me, “This is the most amazing day of my life”- pretty significant for a 17-year old!