Thursday, December 19, 2013

Money Talks...and so do your resources

Goodness gracious, this guy is my newest on a long list of heroes in this world! 
He explains the story in the video. 
What would you do if someone gave you $25,000?
Money talks, what does yours say?
...and when you don't have the money, what do you do?
It's not impossible to make a difference when you don't have money.  You have connections.  Use your resources.  Humanity is good and there are people who want to help.  Here's an example of that:
When an earthquake rocked the tiny country of Costa Rica last September 5th, it wasn't the physical damage that was so disruptive to life, but the emotional damage caused to the country's tourists both foreign and local that decreased the influx of people to hotels, shops, and restaurants that locals live by. 
This was my plea (thanks to the almighty networking power of Facebook):

"As many of you may know, my tiny neighborhood of Cangrejal, in my small beach town of Playa Sámara, Costa Rica, was the epicenter of a 7.6 magnitude earthquake on Sept. 5, 2012. If you didn't...well, now you do! It was strong enough to be felt in the neighboring countries of Nicaragua and Panamá, and Costa Ricans ("ticos") were extremely lucky to not have suffered devastating losses of life or property, though they continue to feel the aftershocks which consistently weigh in around 4-6 on the richter...

Sooo...What does this mean? Well, while CR isn't a third-world country, it's government has been slow to come to the aid of many people affected by the earthquake. While any major transit, landslide, and structural issues are the first challenges to be met, there are some pressing issues that have not yet been addressed.

Anyone who has visited may recognize immediately that the country's economy is based 95% on foreign tourism. During the rainy season months of June-November, it is typical that the country gets fewer tourists and the beach town of Samara is no exception. Most years, though, locals are able to find a few hours of work here or there to cover their basic living expenses including housing, food, water, and gas (used for cooking) as well as telephone and television cable (the only source of news aside from spotty internet in a place where radio signals are few and far between)...

This brings me to the problem at hand: The previous example of making ends meet is what happens in a TYPICAL rainy season...but this is not a typical rainy season because any tourism that HAD been entering, has now fled the epicenter of the quake to head for higher ground away from the fear of tsunami should the next large earthquake (predicted to be a magnitude 7.9) decide to occur during their stay. This is making work scarce and money for basic needs even more scarce.

What's the point? I'm headed down there the 6th of October. I considered asking for non-perishable food donations but after pondering the cost of an extra bag(s) not to mention the overweight fees that would be incurred by carrying sacks of rice, beans, and canned goods, it would probably cost more to bring the food than the food was worth. SO instead, I'm asking for monetary donations. I know, I know. Bad economy, everyone is tight for cash. Well consider this: When there IS work in my town, the average construction worker starts at 6am and works til 5pm in the hot sun with a 1.5 hour break and makes $ For many jobs in the area, the hourly wage is just $2/hour (I know, because I've worked them...). I'm asking you to consider one hour of your wage...At minimum wage, you are still making about $20 in 3 hours...not even 1/2 day of work. Imagine how far a few dollars could go. Staple items are slightly less expensive there than here but not proportionately for their wage differences. But for a few bucks you can buy a bag of rice and for another few, a bag of beans and/or coffee (staples in the Costa Rican diet). A couple of bags of rice and beans can feed a family of 5 for a month. You do the math. Aside from food, there are small repairs to be completed throughout the town, including those of the only public health clinic within 45 minute drive of town, the EBAIS of Samara, located in Cangrejal.

A dollar here or there is more than enough. If you look in your change purse or your wallet or your pockets or your couch and you find a dollar, or two or five, and you think you can spare it, I can bet you that there will be a whole lot of people who will be really grateful to you for thinking of them because a lot of people come to CR and enjoy every bit of it, and have a hard time giving back as much as they've gotten out of it. So...if you've gone before, give back, and if you haven't been yet...consider it a small investment in your future visit.

I'll be happy to provide receipts and upload photos when I return and will be collecting any donations large or small in cash or through paypal where you can donate with a credit card from afar. I'd request that if you are going to send a check, that you send it to my address in NY by Monday, October 1, so that it gets to me in time to deposit it before I leave the following Saturday. The plan will be to buy non-perishable items from local merchants to promote the local businesses, and to use knowledge of friends and locals to distribute the food among those who are most in need until the summer months (and hopefully tourism and work) return in November.

Please feel free to share this with anyone who you think would be interested in the cause and to ask questions/give suggestions.

You can start donating NOW...before you forget :)

Thank you in advance for any help you can afford to give,
Pura Vida - "Pure Life" the national slogan of Costa Rica"
I was able to raise just over $1300 between September 25 and October 6 2012 by collecting any donation amount from anyone willing.  We made over 45 bags of food and goods for the people of the town I call my second home and we had money left over to give to the ongoing efforts of the local church (about which I explained to those involved as I recognized that it may not be considered the politically correct thing to do).  No one seemed to care since they saw the good it did.  I am so grateful to people who can spare anything in their lives for the good of others who are in need and am eternally thankful to the people who donated and trusted me with their money to do the right thing.
For more information on how to do something similar or for pictures and information about that specific effort, please leave a comment and I'll get back to you.

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