Sponsor a Child in Costa Rica
Despite its relative wealth in Latin America, Costa Rica remains a country in which many children have to work to survive. Thousands of childen are orphaned, and the absence of a loving family drives many into a life of drugs, crime, and prostitution. SOS Children has worked in Costa Rica since 1971, giving children a better childhood and a loving home for life.
Sponsor a child online with SOS Children to help orphaned and abandoned children in Costa Rica: Sponsor a child in Costa Rica
Hardship amidst peace
Costa Rica is a relatively peaceful country. In 1949, it became the first country in the world to abolish its military, and since then order has been maintained by a small law enforcement team. Living standards too are good compared with other Latin American countries. Despite this, the gulf between rich and poor is stark, and poverty is rife in rural parts as well as in the capital, San Jose. One in ten struggle hard to make ends meet, while the richest 20% control control over half of the nation's wealth.
Children forced into work by poverty
Over a quarter of the population of Costa Rica is below the age of 14. Hundreds of thousands of school-age children do not go to school because their families rely on them to earn a living. Children, mainly boys, are forced to take backbreaking agricultural work or sell merchandise on city streets. Of Costa Rica's thousands of orphans, many have no family to look after them, and sink into child prostitution, drug abuse and gang violence. HIV afflicts more children here than almost any other Latin American country.
Our Work in Costa Rica
We began our work in Costa Rica in 1975 when SOS Children's Village Tres Ríos was built with ten family houses. Tres Rios is about 11 km from San José, the capital of Costa Rica. Six more houses were added in 1980 where SOS youngsters can live while completing their education or learning a trade. This has since been extended with the addition of carpentry and handicrafts workshops and extra accommodation for girls as well as boys.
In 1982, the 'Hogar Luz' - the House of Light - was added to the facilities to care for seriously mentally and physically handicapped children. The children, most of whom will never be cured, are cared for by specially trained personnel and live in a family structure in spite of their handicaps. It is the only such institution in Costa Rica.
With few programmes in Costa Rica offering short term protection and care to street children, we built a Transit Home with six houses in 1996 in Santa Ana on the edge of San José on land donated by the government. The aim was to provide short term care and assessment of further needs in a family type atmosphere. As well as the six houses providing accommodation for 48 children, the transit home had an SOS Medical Centre, SOS Nursery and sports facilities.
The second Costa Rican SOS Children's Village opened in 2000 in Puerto Limón on the Caribbean coast, one of poorest parts of the country with many social problems. SOS Children's Village Limón has ten family houses, providing a home for over 100 children and an SOS Nursery for children between 3 and 6 years old from both the SOS Children's Village and the neighbourhood.
In February 2000, we opened an International College in Santa Ana. Modelled on the first International SOS College in Tema in Ghana which was founded in 1990, it provided secondary education for up to 200 pupils, SOS children and local children alike, with grants from SOS Children for those who cannot afford the fees. The college has 13 classrooms, laboratories, IT and sports facilities and prepares pupils for university entrance. This college transferred to United World Colleges at the end of the academic year 2006.
The most recent SOS Children's Village in Costa Rica is a conversion of the Transit Home we operated in Santa Ana. Opened in 2009, it consists of ten family homes.
In July 1996, a tornado hit Costa Rica causing enormous damage to a third of country and affecting over half a million people. The charity arranged an Emergency Relief Programme and within days 6000 children were being given food and aid. It also helped in the rebuilding of a school and the distribution of educational materials to 2,500 children and young people.
Life in SOS Children's Villages Costa Rica: "We care a lot about our village"
Each child or youth has a different way of describing life in an SOS Children's Village. The pride Alberto and his friends feel when it comes to their village is evident. As Oscar put it, "We care a lot about our village, that's why we don't throw away garbage." Lucía said, "Come this way (referring to a trail), you are not going to fall... - Take my picture here, see how beautiful it is!"
In the eyes of Alberto and his friends, each SOS mother is characteristic in a way that makes her stand out from the others. For example, Manuel said, "The house of Mama Rosa is the cleanest of the village"; "This mom (referring to Xiomara) likes us to play at the playground with her children," Lucía remarked; Oscar said: "This mom (referring to Lorraine) gets angry if we tear the plants". But to each child, his or her own mom is the best of all.
For privacy reasons, we have changed the names of the children.
Asociación Aldeas SOS de Niños de Costa Rica
400 metros norte del Parque de Sabanilla
Apartado postal 37
2070 Sabanilla - Montes de Oca
Tel: +506/2224 8075, +506/2283 9794,