Cannot believe my luck… expected to be staying in fieldbase for most of the expedition, but have been assigned project manager building a community centre in Bajo Chirripo! Very excited and happy to be going 🙂 A huge thank you to Julien and Ross for allocating me to this project.

Raleigh will be working for the first time in the Bajo Chirripo Indigenous Reserve to build a community centre in the communities of Pozo Azul. This remote community, 2 hours to get to on foot, live in the foothills of the Caribbean slope of Central Costa Rica are inhabited by the Cabecar indigenous people who maintain their own language and culture. In the community there is currently nowhere for the village to meet, organize itself, receive training and hold recreational events. The Raleigh project team will  have a unique experience to learn about the lives of the Cabecar people and understand the challenges that face this indigenous community at the beginning of the 21st century.

As this is the first time the community and Raleigh will be working together, the challenge will be for the community to understand Raleigh (e.g. why is that sometimes the least skilled or youngest person is day leader).  On the pre-project visit a community meeting was held, some concern raised over the number of girls on the project, the expectation of the Cabecars being that erecting a building is not woman’s work.  It was suggested the girls could cook the meals…  we are going to have to dispel some cultural expectations!

From the project team’s side – 14 venturers and 3 volunteer managers (medic, translator and project manager) – the challenge will be labouring in the jungle heat; clearing the ground first and constructing a building from the foundations up, and completing in 3 weeks.

Building materials have already arrived on site and there is a lot of impetus from the community leaders to get this project delivered in time for community elections in August (after we have left)but hopefully we will be able to complete the project before then. A community centre was one of the pledges to deliver from an earlier election.

We will be living in local houses and being cooked for by the 3 families in the community. Washing facilities is the river, there is no electricity supply so it will be candlelight and torches and a lot of early nights to bed.  Hopefully there will also be a chance for some to undertake teaching in the existing school. However there may be some obstacles to overcome with internal politics between the community and the government provided school teacher.. apparently all is not well.