The Gospel Need in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is known for a high level of
education and freedom, among Latin American countries. Despite this fact, there
are pockets of the population with lower education and little freedom. Some socio political and historical
developmental facts play into this oddity, especially in coastal areas that
were once controlled by the United Fruit Company. The Ministry of
Foreign Affairs and Religions of Costa Rica states Protestant Christians only
account for 14% of the total population. While 69% self denominates as Roman
Catholic. There are also Seventh Day
Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses who have a marked presence in
coastal areas and 12% of the population are atheists. Without Christ there is
no real freedom, and in Costa Rica this fact has been aggravated by the sex
Sex Trade in Costa Rica
The United Nations
conservatively estimates that there are about 32 million victims of human
trafficking across the globe at any given time. In 79 percent of human
trafficking cases, the motive is sexual exploitation – forced prostitution or
rape - with girls making up the majority of the victims.
As of 2011, the U.S. State department added Costa Rica to the tier-2 watch list.
As a U.S. Embassy source explained, there has been a failure on behalf of the
Costa Rican government to condemn or prosecute human traffickers. In addition
there has been a failure to maintain specialized services and shelters for
trafficking victims. These problems have paved the way for traffickers to
enslave and exploit girls as young as 6 years of age, but most frequently
between the ages of 12 and 17, with no ramifications for these actions. This
has opened the door to a multimillion dollar industry where even the parents of
some of these children have begun selling and exploiting their own children for
additional income. (http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/)
"Sex Tourism in Costa Rica has been a consequence of the rapid growth of
international tourism in the country, and the country is being promoted as a
popular destination for sex tourism. Despite the government and industry
efforts, child sex trade has been also a problem. A study estimated that
"up to 10% of tourists who come to Costa Rica engage in sex tourism",
with as many as 10,000 sex workers involved, many of whom are immigrants. Also
it was reported that about 80% of the sex tourists are from the US. This is
largely due because prostitution is not illegal. Recently, Interpol named Costa
Rica the fastest-growing capital for sex tourism in Latin America. Americans
are the majority of Costa Rica’s sex tourists, composing 80% of the total
number of tourists". (Wikipedia 2013).
On Thursday, July 25, 2015, The United
States lightly criticized Costa Rica for human rights abuses, including
trafficking in persons, particularly sex trafficking of children. The report
said that the government, security officials, and child advocacy organizations
acknowledged that commercial sexual exploitation of children was a serious
problem...The government identified child sex tourism as a serious problem,
said the report, but it failed to give specifics or amplification.
Quepos is one of the places in Costa
Rica where education and freedom are in danger. Quepos is known for, a place where the rainforest
meets the sea, and is on a tropical inlet about halfway down Costa Rica’s Pacific
coast on the Puntarenas Province. The town gets its name from the Quepo Indian tribe, a subgroup of the
Borucas, who inhabited the area at the time of the conquest. As a result of
diseases brought by Europeans, warfare and other Indian groups, and slavery,
there are no pure blooded Quepos left by the end of the 19th century.
came to prominence as a banana exporting port. Due to disease, African palm oil
replaced bananas as the local major crop and, because the finished produced is
much less bulky than bananas, Quepos declined as a major shipping port. By
the 1970’s the African Palm oil industry was prospering in Quepos, Costa Rica.
Consequently, because palm oil is easily transported overland by tanker truck,
Quepos declined as a major shipping port. In 1995, the local African Palm
business was sold to private investors (Palma Tica) and thus a very influential
period in the history of modern day Quepos, United Fruit Company era, came to
an end. This transition requires people to think and act in a different than
they have in the past century. Those stepping in and taking advantage of this
transition time have further exploited the Quepoans.
There are several annual festivals, the biggest of which is
Carnival. This ten days of music, dancing, cultural and sporting attracts a
huge crowd during the festivities celebrated every February or March. The
Virgin of the Sea Festival, in July, features a colourful fishing-boat regatta
where fishermen honour the Virgin in hopes of another safe year at sea. Other
carnival include, Festejos Populares held in November and boasts parades, music
The best way to give the Quepoans the gospel is through
education and freedom. By Provision works
alongside two Christian ministries in Quepos: El Puente Christian School and
Seeds of Hope
Puente Christian School
minds and nurtured hearts are academically prepared, Biblically discerning, and
spiritually growing. Developed in the context of a comprehensive learning
community and a spiritually enriching environment, students can to transform
their community for Jesus Christ by living for Him, loving others, and serving
El Puente Christian School desires to impact the lives of children
for God’s glory in Quepos by offering an excellent, bilingual, Christ-centered
education. The goal is to bring up a generation of students that will be
catalysts for change in their community. El Puente is reaching students who
would normally never have the opportunity to attend a private school through their
tuition assistance and scholarship program.
What does it take for the most well educated students in Quepos to be the
ones who grow up hearing about Christ and learning about His love? El Puente needs to construct the facilities
that will meet students’ needs and show them Christ’s love. A new facility will
allow El Puente to serve more students, apply for national accreditation, and
continue working to equip the next generation of students in Quepos to become
leaders in their community.
El Puente was given property in the form of a trust by a local businesman. The
plans and permits are approved for Phase One: elementary and preschool buildings.
The new facility will have nine classrooms, an administrative space, and a
library/computer lab. The expanded space will allow El Puente to grow to a
capacity of 144 students.
El Puente currently has students from PreK to 6th grade. In Costa Rica, High
School starts in 7th grade. Eighty percent of El Puente students
receive financial assistance or their mothers help by cleaning the school or
making jewellery to help offset tuition costs. El Puente will not be accredited
until the current building meets the standards of the Costa Rican Ministry of
Education. Many families who can afford to pay and who have shown great
interest in the school are hesitant to put their children in until we receive
accreditation from the government. Having a new facility will allow El Puente
to become accredited, serve more
students and become self-sustainable.
Seeds of Hope & Root of Hope
of Hope was created to address this growing problem, by helping girls to escape
this tragic cycle of exploitation and abuse. The most successful way to reach
these young ladies is opening up clubhouses in neighbourhoods where sexual exploitation
of minors occurs and inviting all young ladies ages 12-17 to join. Seeds
of Hope works hard to show them the true love of God, our Father, and give them
education to have better futures.
Seeds of Hope is a member of a National Task Force called CONACOES made up of
approximately 20 National Department Heads of agencies including Immigration,
Child Protective Services, the Costa Rican FBI, and the Police Force. Seeds of
Hope is considered to be a valuable solution to this epidemic and is working
with us to educate and provide opportunities for our students to get the word
out on how to "Break the Chain."
vision is to provide safety, rehabilitation, and education for the girls. The
program is designed so that each girl will receive healing and leave with an
education, vocational abilities, a healthy lifestyle, and most of all freedom.
Seeds of Hope program aims to teach young people to live a healthy, productive
life, with a vocation that they are passionate about. The behaviour
modification program rewards them for good behaviour such as class
participation, being on time, showing responsibility, and good attendance.
There is also a jewellery design program that provides weekly groceries to moms
whose families are at risk. The leaders program teaches students to rise above
the others as role models.
of Hope is expanding into Roots of Hope, a program for adolescent males in
Costa Rica who are at risk of participating in the drug and sex trade.
Provision works alongside ministries El Puente Christian School, Seeds/Root of Hope to
share the gospel, educate and free the sexually vulnerable and exploited. Volunteers can help disciple
children and youth from one week to three months establishing and developing relationships as they teach English, do sports, assist
classroom teachers, help with IT, do renovation and construction projects, and
lead community outreach events.