Cecilia is an amazing woman. She is a Tica (Costa Rican) who lives in a very poor community in San Jose, CR where many Nicaraguan immigrants have settled. There is a pattern of among men of adultery, alcoholism, drug abuse and family neglect. When they can find work, most of the salary is spent on what the men desire, while the needs of the family are secondary. As is common in many third world countries, the wives, often with no work skills, are left alone with the children and have to make do.
Both angered and frustrated by the pattern she saw, Cecilia began feeding the neighborhood kids out of her own kitchen with whatever beans and rice she could scrape up. The Lord’s hand has been upon her ministry in some crazy ways. People who heard about what she was doing would stop by and donate food. A woman decided to buy a piece of property in the community and give it to Cecilia to build a new community center. More recently, a radio show decided to have a radio-thon to raise funds for Cecilia. Some money was raised and Cecilia and her husband were able to salvage some materials for a basic shelter that has served as the community center for the past few years.
Recently, more and more kids have come to have lunch at the center. Out of the lunches, a vacation bible school program has developed to teach the kids about Jesus. The women of the community also gather weekly for a women’s bible study. From the women’s study, a sewing coop started as a means for the women to earn an income apart from their husbands. The sewing coop has now grown from one day/week to 2-3 days/week. For many, it is a safe place in a dangerous community. Cecilia and her leadership team want to reach out into the community in even bigger ways using the “community center” as the central point.
However, the shelter that currently functions as the community center is in desperate need of improvement. It was literally constructed out of found materials, branches, and bamboo. Since no kitchen is available, all the cooking is done at Cecilia’s daughter’s house two doors down and carted to the center. They run an electrical cord from her daughter’s house to the center for power. The site drops off steeply to the river below right above where the kids play football, run, and play. For a while now, they have been in real need of a new building.
Recently, eMi (Engineering Ministry International) provided a design team (for free) from the US and completed a simple design for a new community center made out of prefabricated panels that would be very affordable to construct. In addition, a new site design was completed that added retaining walls, play areas, and a small futbol field. The necessary building permits have been given and the actual building process of the main room (salon) is to start. Actual cost of building the ‘Salón Communal’ is less than $10,000. That funding has been given. Further funding is required to complete the bathrooms (Baños – beside the aulas or classrooms), 3 small classrooms, a small community soccer field (at the bottom) and to complete basic property security. All of this provides greater opportunities to transform the surrounding communities for Jesus.
This is an amazing story of hope out of darkness. One couldn’t imagine that such a tiny lady as Cecilia would be capable of bringing about such profound changes in the community. Yet Cecilia doesn’t talk to anyone about anything without talking about Jesus. Her deep love for the Father is what compels her in all that she does. Currently her daughter, Carmen, is taking over the ministry in this community and Cecilia has moved to La Lidia, an even poorer community about 3 hours east where she has started a similar community ministry.
If you would like to help out financially with the completion of this community center in Guizaros, you can donate your giving to either 1. any Christian & Missionary church and mark your cheque SunCompassion – Costa Rica or 2. go on-line at this page, fill out the page and choose Costa Rica.