Costa Rica: Lomas de Cocorí

Hedwig and Robert Samuel Foundation

How the village of Lomas de Cocorí was born.

At first they were called the parachute jumpers, because in a similar way they almost silently floated in from nowhere and settled on an unused farm near the provincial capital San Isidro. Absolutely destitute, they had to build up their huts out of all the things that nature and society had left lying around. There were no roads, water or electricity. At first there were only a few families, soon there were hundreds. With the increase in the number of settlers, the reservations about them and the number of critics in the surrounding communities increased. Soon politics had to resolve the situation. The settlement, however, was now so large that it was too late for an existential “Whether or not”, so it was only about the organisational “How”. The owner of the farm, a bank that had left the property unused for years, had to give up its rights. The settlers were registered in the land register as the owner of their small plots of land and the settlement received official municipality status. Lomas de Cocorí was born.

A Nobel Prize brings hope to the country.

There was now a town, but the infrastructure was still missing. So roads, water supply, electricity and a school had to be fought for. It was fortunate that Oskar Arias, the President of the country, had been awarded the Nobel Prize for his policies which promoted peace and he had put the money associated with this prize into a foundation for social matters. Money was made available out of this fund for the construction of three classrooms for a school. But soon the three classrooms were not enough. A large proportion of the pupils, which had meanwhile grown to 240 boys and girls, had to be taught in the open. Blazing heat in the dry season and rain downpours during the rainy season made this a torture for children and teachers.

Chance brought us to Lomas de Cocorí.

Once again, fortunate circumstances brought Lomas de Cocorí’s managers in touch with the Samuel Foundation. Together, a plan was developed to expand the school by three classrooms, a sanitary unit and a kitchen with a dining area. The Foundation was responsible for buying the building materials, paying the necessary external work and coordinating the project, while the municipality mobilized the parents as workers. A good year later the work was finished. The parents of Lomas de Cocorí are proud, because they have had to work hard to achieve this result. And they are grateful, because they have managed to offer their children a school education in adequate conditions, so that they will have a better life than themselves. As a foundation, we look proudly at the completed school because it is a new hope for many of the people living here.