For the fifth year, Golden Key’s University of Central Florida chapter offered members an amazing opportunity to participate in a Costa Rica Service Learning Trip. Fifteen Golden Key students took the journey to Costa Rica on a Service Learning experience August 11-18, 2013.
Laura Lord, the chapter’s Alumni Advisor, describes the experience:
These students worked with children in an impoverished local school, Escuela El Jauuri. We also collected school supplies, clothing, medicine, hygiene products and games to donate to these children who have very little. We made it a priority to teach children proper hand washing techniques and the importance of good hygiene overall. Essentially, we are helping reduce hygiene-related illnesses, a serious cause of death in Costa Rica.
We explained to youth proper hand washing techniques and supplemented the instruction with activity sheets which we completed as a class while we were there. Also, we utilized Glo Germ which is a liquid that contains proven safe ingredients formulated to be the same size as bacteria. Then with the use of an ultra-violet light, it simulates the spread of germs, teaching how quickly and broadly germs can be spread in a short period of time. Each child washed their hands with glo germ and then we used the light to show them where they missed spots. Most still had dirty fingernails, wrists, and the spaces between their fingers.
Our trips take us to the most rural and undeveloped parts of the Costa Rica were access to safe bottled water is rare. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even cautions that water is the leading cause of illness and disease in travelers to Costa Rica.
Lifesaver Bottle Systems donated LIFESAVER bottles which removes all bacteria, viruses, cysts, parasites, fungi and all other microbiological waterborne pathogens without the aid of any foul tasting chemicals like iodine or chlorine. Our trip participants were able to utilize the bottle throughout the trip. This helped to reduce the cost of purchasing bottled water which is very expensive. We estimate that it saved the group $2,000 in bottled water costs and obviously reduced our environmental impact. At the end of the trip we donated the bottles to a school that did not have clean drinking water. These bottles providing them access to filtered safe drinking water.
In addition to the service component, the group was able to have numerous cultural immersion experiences and enjoy several excursions. For instance, we took a boat tour on the Arenal Volcano lake providing spectacular views of the volcano and dam. Also, we were able to spend 3 nights at a remote lodge in the rainforest. The lodge was completely self sufficient in that they grew their own food, livestock, cooked over a wood stove, repurposed everything, and used candle light. The group also experienced a guided hike through an organic cacao farm while learning the history and process of making chocolate. We visited an ox cart factory where we were able to watch craftsmen meticulously hand paint the colorful oxcarts and oxcart wheels that we saw throughout Costa Rica.
One of the most impactful parts of the trip was the host family dinner. For this activity we split the group among 4 families who took us into their homes and showed us how they lived. This experience really made us all appreciate what we have. Despite how poor these families were they were truly happy. These families took very good care of their homes and were proud of them. To put this in to perspective, in the United States their home would be considered more of a utility shed than a house, some only having dirt floors.
The trip was jam packed with activities and I could just go on and on…the bottom line is Costa Rica is an amazing country and this trip touches the lives of our GK students and the local Costa Ricans.
For more photos check out: https://www.facebook.com/engagecostarica