|Throughout the years, both Kelly and Mainor (the owner and manager of Casa Zen, respectively) have been actively involved in issues concerning the communities of Mal Pais and Santa Teresa. Their contributions include:
APMSM Community Organization
In 2007, Kelly helped found and eventually became President of the Asociación Probienestar de las Comunidades de Mal País, Santa Teresa y Manzanillo (APMSM), a community association funded privately through donations. APMSM was designed to address five main areas of concern in our communities, namely Health, Education, Security, Environment, and Planning & Development. Like many grassroots organizations, it carried on in fits and starts for about 4 years, resulting in various successful projects, including: several beach cleanups, art days for the kids which included environmental education, environmental education directly in the local elementary school, payment of the electricity for the local EBAIS health clinic (while it was still open), helping to organize a holiday party for the local kids, providing a rental house and resources for the local police, and finally culminating in the construction of a police station here in town.
Mainor became quite involved in a coalition aimed at improving the water procurement and transfer system in town. This was quite a large undertaking, involving local and national agencies, and a committed group of volunteers from town in order to map out and help complete a plan for a new water system. They succeeded, and although we still have water shortages in the summer months (Dec. – April), the national water board, AyA, is now in charge in the area, and the water pressure has never been better!
Kids’ Art Days
Casa Zen has sponsored Kids’ Art Days, held here at Casa Zen, for the past six years. What started out as just giving something with which the kiddos can draw and color has turned into dedicated projects around holiday themes, to learning about planting and the earth, to our next endeavor – enlisting the kids to help with community sign making for emergency planning, in particular identifying evacuation routes, safe zones in your home and at school, and protocol to follow in the case of emergency. We hope to be partnering with some other art centers in town this year, and thereby hope to expand our reach to a few more local kids!
Local Surf Club
There is a local Surf Club in town, www.facebook.com/asosurfmalpateresa?ref=ts, which holds a few local competitions every year, and helps provide funding for some of the local young surfers. Growing a little bit each year, the Club helps provide transportation to competitions around Costa Rica, and helps cover the entry fees for the surfers. The Club plays a huge role in the lives of these kids, many of whom would not have the chance to surf competitively on their own. In addition to helping a few local kids directly with boards, repairs, and entry fees, Casa Zen is proud to donate regularly every year to the Surf Club, and we wish each one of the surfers luck!
There is a foundation in Costa Rica called Fundacion Caritas, fundacioncaritascr.blogspot.com which helps provide services and equipment for children with disabilities. Casa Zen has been contributing to this charity for more than five years, and we wish them all the luck with their new services which even include dolphin therapy!
Valentino Achek Deng Foundation
After reading “What is the What?¨ by Dave Eggers, Kelly was left inspired to contribute annually to the Valentino Achek Deng Foundation, www.valentinoachakdeng.org which has built a school campus and the largest school for girls in the new country of Southern Sudan. We wish all the students all the luck in the world, and we highly recommend any and every book by Dave Eggers. OPEN YOUR EYES TO THE WORLD! (smile)
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