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Young Bribri Student Makes Progress in School After Meeting the Bridge

Ten-Year-Old Alejandro spoke only Bribri when he was brought to The Bridge in February, 2004. Less than a year later, he reads and writes basic Spanish, and can do basic math. He gets nutritious meals at The Bridge, and serves as a volunteer. His future is bright indeed.

(PRWEB) January 7, 2005 -- In February of 2004, The Bridge was introduced to Alejandro, a 9-year-old Bribri Indian boy living in the jungle near Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica. As February 2005 approaches, there have been major changes in his life. His shyness was originally hidden behind sparkling eyes and a lively curiosity. At first, he spoke only Bribri. Through Daniel, the Cultural Assistant for The Bridge, we learned that he had an older sister in school, and that his parents couldn’t afford to send him as well. As he told us that, there was an unmistakable look of sadness on his face. Some things just don’t need language.

Talking with Alejandro’s parents, we learned that although public education is free here in Costa Rica, there are costs of placing children in school and keeping them there through the year. A child must have two uniforms, shoes, boots, a knapsack, notebook, and pencils. There may be an initial book purchase. The initial outlay is $75-$100. The student pays for copies of exams, and there are other small charges, which add up to another $100 over the course of the year. For $200, they can keep Alejandro in school for a year.

Nanci and I looked at each other and asked when he could get into school. “The term just started”, Daniel explained. “Is there still time?” we asked. “Si.” There was still time. The Bridge provided the required cash, and Daniel took Alejandro and his mother Maria shopping in Bribri, a nearby town where everything needed can be found at reasonable prices.

Alejandro started school in February 2004. He walks to and from school every day. Walking out of the jungle to the main road takes 20 minutes, and the walk to town and school another 45 minutes. Rain or shine – and this is a rain forest – he is determined to get to school. On rainy days, he stops at The Bridge, changes his boots for his school shoes, and goes on his way.

The Bridge is right on his way to and from school, and Alejandro often stops by, to have some fresh juice or water, and to share his homework. On what is obviously Wednesday the 28th of April, he gave us this homework sample. After only two months, he was printing his name, the vowels, and short sentences like “Yo amo papa.”

Now, ten months after entering school for the first time, he reads, speaks, and writes basic Spanish, and is working on basic mathematics. As he stops by The Bridge, he’s also teaching himself how to use a computer – in English, since until very recently we weren’t able to find any Spanish-language software for the purpose. As he learns, he is teaching others.

The Bridge provides educational assistance through its School Program, with one child in school this year and 13 planned for the next term beginning in February. It offers food assistance to families with a soup kitchen three days a week, and a supplemental bag of food once a week. We currently serve 60 people in 19 families. The Bridge makes microloans, where the loan can help a breadwinner raise his or her income. Ten microloans have been made, with four paid in full, and payments being made on the other six. All services of The Bridge work together, to help people help themselves toward self-sufficiency.

The Bridge is planning to acquire and build permanent facilities, and is planning an aggressive series of courses in everything from job training to nutrition, allowing young workers here to upgrade their income from cutting back jungle growth with a machete and grow into jobs with service, trade, and basic technical skills.

El Puente – The Bridge is a Project of The Serendipity International Foundation; a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization based in Carlsbad, California, USA. The Bridge operates in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica.

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