Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Five weeks in the community of El Cocal, Quepos

It´s been five weeks now since I first arrived here at the Quepos Project. Every day I learn more about the community of El Cocal and the families living there. El Cocal is the poorest part of Quepos, and many of its residents are immigrants from places like Nicaragua and Cuba. It is on a beautiful peninsula, surrounded by gorgeous beaches. Despite this beauty, the community has its share of problems. Unemployment, a high concentration of unskilled labourers and loose family structures amongst them. In terms of the education there, most of the residents of El Cocal do not even make it through the sixth grade. This leaves them very few options as to employment. Almost all of the women have children very young, and most of the men go into the dangerous fishing trade or engage in low paying jobs.

Despite the problems there, I have been floored at how welcoming the community has been to us. They are excited about the English classes that we offer. In fact, when GVI first entered the community the first thing they asked for was English classes. This is because a grasp of the English language may give them (or at least their children) a chance to get a foothold in the booming Costa Rican tourist industry.

Every day the children greet us with smiles when we get off the boat, calling us by our names and hugging us. Tayanette, a particularly bright little girl, said to me just the other day (in Spanish) “there´s nothing to do here in El Cocal.” This made me think of why our work is so important: by creating our community center, and by offering our classes, we are not only giving these kids something to do—we are providing them with the opportunity to do something in their lives.