Our work in Costa Rica

Unbound programs serve Costa Rica's most vulnerable

Children in Costa Rica

Costa Rica's varied topography and biodiversity have made it an eco-tourism paradise.

It is a country of economic contrasts: posh shopping malls and crowded slums, luxury hotels and thatch-roofed villages. Tourism and development benefit some, and leave others struggling to overcome the challenges of poverty.

Staff members are trusted friends who live in the communities they serve or nearby communities. They regularly visit families and learn their history, dreams and hopes.

Regular community meetings are facilitated by staff and offer families a forum to discuss problems and share ideas for coping with daily challenges.

Sponsored members receive education support, nutritional benefits, access to health care, and more.

Helping mothers helps children

Unbound serves more than 6,700 children and youth through the San Jose project in Costa Rica. The mothers groups started with 15 moms. Today, 2,700 mothers of sponsored children in Costa Rica belong to mothers groups.

Unbound's efforts with mothers groups in Costa Rica is part of the organization's long-term strategy of empowering parents and guardians to create equity and unity in their communities.

A mother and children in Costa Rica

"For Unbound, it is important to partner with sponsored mothers to work toward their own development," said Ana Martinez, project director for Costa Rica. "We want to recognize their dedication and hard work. They have commitment and many talents, and they are always searching for what's best for their families. They never give up."

Sponsorship provides benefits for sponsored children, but Unbound has also seen how improving the emotional and economic health of the mother positively affects the children.

"The mom isn't fighting alone," Martinez said. "The children see their moms participating in these groups and their commitment to the program and to school increases.

"The mother is the role model for the child, teaching the child to improve his or her situation, teaching commitment and responsibility."

Unbound has given these women the opportunity to grow together as a group and as individuals. Through the mothers groups, the women are improving economically and emotionally.

They are like family.

"When they see all those changes happening — the network of support, the family atmosphere, the increases in income — they want to be part of it," Martinez said.

Mothers learn to sew, provide income for their family

Unbound sewing mothers group in Costa Rica

María Elena Delgado, an Unbound social worker, works with mothers groups in Heredia, a rapidly industrializing community about six miles north of San Jose.

The reality for families living in Heredia is harsh. They live in slums and struggle with social problems. Many live in river basins or dangerous areas threatened by landslides.

In a rough area such as this, hope can be just out of arm's reach. But the Unbound mothers groups give these mothers an extra boost.

Marcela and Nora are two mothers of Unbound sponsored children in Heredia who taught 15 other mothers to sew. These mothers in turn taught members of their mothers groups.

Now, all 180 mothers in the Heredia groups can sew. They sew uniform shirts and rain capes for schoolchildren and work from home.

Maribel is a single mother raising two sponsored children with no financial support outside sponsorship. Her economic situation was very difficult. She did not know how to sew before joining her mothers group, but today, she is able to provide more for her family.

"I feel very motivated," Maribel said. "The money I get (from sewing clothes) is an income for my children and me. This is really a great blessing."

Costa Rica housing fund

Donate to the Costa Rica housing fund

Help Unbound's project in Costa Rica build new homes for families in the sponsorship program. Many families living in poverty live in unsafe, undignified housing because it is all they can afford. Contributions are used to build homes for families who the project determines are most in need of this assistance. Learn more »

Costa Rica

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Aging sponsored:


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Unbound started working in Costa Rica in 1991.

Sponsor in Costa Rica