By: Pablo Juarez, Travel Blogger at TravelBeards.com
I had often heard about travelers doing their part by dropping off school supplies, clothing, or sports equipment at local community centers and schools in some of the countries they visited. This idea inspired me to look for ways I could get involved in giving back to the travel community. Shortly before my trip to Costa Rica, I came across the Pack for a Purpose website. It not only helped us to plan our school visit, but also offered us tips on how to pack and what to bring. With some generous support from family members, co-workers, and friends from home, we managed to fill a sports bag with 27 lbs. of supplies. This included some first-aid supplies, pencils, markers, crayons, books, craft supplies, toothbrushes, and a few soccer balls.
In Alajuela, we met with Berni from Pura Vida Hotel. We had been emailing with him from Canada and he graciously invited us to drop off our supplies in person. The elementary school was called Tuetal Sur and it supports around 500 students throughout the year. When we arrived, we were warmly welcomed by Yendry, the school’s English teacher. She offered to take us on a tour and to introduce us to some of the children. We saw their classrooms, answered their questions, and got to learn a little bit more about their culture.
We had many highlights on our trip to Costa Rica, but our elementary school visit will always be the most memorable. The children were all wonderful to meet and their warmth and kindness will be with me always when I am reminded of Tuetal Sur. I highly encourage everyone to think about Packing for a Purpose on your next trip. The most important thing we learned from this experience is that anything helps. Whether it’s one book or ten, a little bit of kindness can go a long way.