What is the Community Empowerment Volunteering at Cooperatives in Costa Rica project all about?
Become a volunteer in Costa Rica and join one of our most unique projects in Central America assisting local communities at 2 cooperatives. Many men from the community work at a coffee cooperative and it has supported them and their families for many years by producing coffee that is sold locally and also exported internationally. Many families in the Costa Rican countryside depend exclusively on coffee as it is their source of income and so having an additional source of income is very helpful, especially as there was a coffee crisis in recent which hit the already low incomes of local families. Fluctuations both in coffee prices and demand, and a small drop in either of these can severely affect the producer’s income.
The women decided there was a need for an alternative and the orchid cooperative was started in 1993. The project was originally started by 35 local women, but there are now only 8 women who have weathered the years and dedicate themselves to this project. This group of women decided to diversify their income base by starting a business growing orchids and making compost. They grow these flowers for local sale (within the country) and for export. The women often have to use their own money to make improvements or to keep the project going. They coordinate with expositions and ministries to set up a table to sell their plants and sell in San Jose and also at any area fairs or festivals. Join the communities in Costa Rica and help with some of the tasks that enable them to generate incomes to support themselves and their families.
Why choose this Community Empowerment Volunteering at Cooperatives project?
With only 8 women on the orchid project, the work required to maintain the grounds, weed, make compost and tend to the plants is always more than can be handled. Additionally, the exposure of these rural women to outside ideas and new ways and to practice speaking English helps them to keep their business fresh and growing and helps. It also enables them to interact more confidently in the business environment. Coffee production is also very hands and depending on your Spanish you can support the local growers in several ways. Not only will the volunteer have an amazing experience, get to practice their Spanish and add the placement to their CV/Resume, they will also be proud of their contribution to sustainable livelihood initiatives.
Role of the Community Volunteer
Your role as a volunteer will involve participating fully in the orchid growing and compost making business and also at the coffee cooperative. Your time will be divided between the two cooperatives and the division will depend on the time and duration of your placement. Volunteers will carry out any chores that are required around the sites. such as planting, weeding, harvesting and some office based tasks – generally helping where needed. Additionally, you may be asked to run language and computer skills training sessions for the women and men to help them to develop their business skills, an essential part of this placement. If you speak a good level of Spanish you may have the opportunity to help out with marketing related activities too.
What skills do I need to be a Community Volunteer in Costa Rica?
At least a good basic level of Spanish (Basic User Level A2 of CEFR) is required to participate in this project, as communication with the members of the cooperatives is important. Lessons can be arranged alongside our placement to improve your confidence and help you to make the most out of your time here. No other specific skills are required for this project, but a moderate level of fitness is required to keep up, as well as a love for the outdoors.
WHY JOIN THE PROJECT
To help enable Costa Rican women to sustainably generate their own income
To practice your Spanish skills
Because you want to spend time living with a Costa Rican community
Where will I work in Costa Rica?
Volunteers participating in this programme are located in the Atenas community, just outside the bustling city of San Jose. Atenas is a picturesque town situated in the central highlands of Costa Rica, roughly 45 minutes from San Jose. This small town is made up of many surrounding communities that base their livelihoods on agricultural pursuits such as growing coffee, oranges, mangoes, and sugarcane. Costa Rican history, tradition and culture are deeply rooted here. Atenas is a clean and charming town with a laid-back atmosphere. The friendly demeanour of the locals and the surrounding beauty of the area make this an ideal location for volunteering and Spanish study.
Details & Costs
- Duration: 2 – 26 weeks
- Cost: £1308/$2092 for 2 weeks
£233/$373 for each week thereafter
- Requirements: Age 18+
- Location: Atenas, Costa Rica
- Project activities: Weeding, planting, making compost, harvesting, grinding, teaching English and computers plus nutrition project activities
- Working Hours: Monday-Friday; time split between cooperatives
- Project availability: Project starts every Monday.
- Arrival day: Saturday
What is included
- Accommodation: Single or shared room in a homestay (according to availability)
- Food: 3 Meals per day
- Airport pick up and drop off from San Jose International Airport
- Training: Pre-departure preparation pack, on-site orientation and project induction provided
- 6 hours of Spanish language classes
- Support: On-site coordinator providing 24 hour support
- Activities: 1 dance class and 1 cookery class included. Staff help organise evening and weekend activities.
What is not included
- Daily transport between your accommodation and your project
- Additional Spanish lessons can be provided for £100 ($175) for 6 hours.
- Police/Government Background Check; US and UK citizens will be processed through Kaya (admin fee applies) all other nationalities must provide local police check.
Easy 3-step application process
SPEAK TO A PLACEMENT ADVISOR
Contact us through the website, via email or phone. Our experienced staff are ready to help.
Apply online and pay your project security deposit. Our advisers will then contact you to guide you through the final steps.
REVIEW PROJECT DOCUMENTATION
Once you have applied we will send you more information and details about your project
HAVE A QUESTION?
We pride ourseleves on providing you high quality project information throughout your application process and whilst on the ground. Connect with us if you have any questions.
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