Earlier I reported on indigenous medicine in Costa Rica and our family’s experience with one of the last healers in the area, Don Candido Morales. We are so fortunate to be returning for two months this summer to continue treatment. I don’t feel it was just an accident that our paths crossed. This experience has moved me and seriously broadened my world.
For thousands of years the Bribri people have lived in harmony with nature. The Bribri are located in the mountains and low-lying Caribbean coastal areas of southern Costa Rica and northern Panama on the Talamanca reservation. Approximately 13,700 Bribri people have maintained an indigenous culture that’s different from the rest of the country. Indigenous … the original inhabitants of Talamanca.
Most still live without electricity or running water and live off of the jungle rain forest. There is much to be learned from their sustained lifestyle, and especially from their knowledge of medicinal plants. Unfortunately, this has also caused them to have poor education, not to mention the lowest income per capita in the country. Most families live on less than $2 a day, with agriculture being their main source of income.
School (K-8) is mandatory and free in Costa Rica but families must purchase their shoes, uniforms, backpacks, books and supplies. For most Bribri families this is a choice between food for their families or school for their child. With the help of a local non-profit, El Puente (The Bridge), Barry and Nancy Stevens are working to change the situation. This year alone they were able to “outfit” 64 Bribri children with the necessary clothes and supplies to start the 2011 school year in February, with another 6 on the waiting list.
El Puente (The Bridge) works with the Bribri tribe providing educational assistance, food and microloans. The goal is to help the Bribri to become self-sufficient, while at the same time maintaining their indigenous culture.
Out of their tiny home, they currently are serving healthy meals to about 520 people a month on a three-day-per-week schedule.
So often we read about people in need and, though we want to help, we lack the time, ability or money. Well, today I’m going to give YOU the opportunity to help El Puente in their work, without spending a dime. (Wouldn’t I make a good telemarketer?) Easy-peasy… honestly. GoodSearch is a search engine that pays a little over a penny to the charity of your choice each time you use it. In December of each year, they add up the total purchases and send a check. The timing is perfect because that is when preparations begin at El Puente to outfit the kids for school and purchase their supplies. You may never go to Costa Rica or meet the Bribri indigenous people, but you can make a difference. All you need do is go to http://www.goodsearch.com/ and sign up. Be sure to choose El Puente–The Bridge (La Mesa California) as your favorite charity. Pass the request onto your friends and family too. With enough usage of this search engine, maybe next year there won’t have to be children on a “waiting list” — unable to start school because they lack the proper clothes and supplies.