Costa Rica was deemed a country of peace in 1948 after the military was abolished following a 44-day civil war. As a result, the military budget was allotted to improving the country's security, education, and culture. Nonetheless, there are still areas throughout that suffer from poverty, discrimination, and violence. Conflicts arise particularly between the local population and immigrants from neighboring Nicaragua, who seek better employment opportunities in Costa Rica but often end up living in precarious situations.
Play for Peace Costa Rica was started by trainers Fernando and Diego, who learned about the organization and its impact while serving as volunteers in the Skaramangas refugee camp in Greece. Impressed by the changes they witnessed in the children there and the leadership displayed by Play for Peace youth volunteers, they insisted on receiving formal Play for Peace training in March 2018. Soon after, they successfully implemented a weekly program in La Carpio, the city's most crime-ridden area.
Play for Peace quickly became an important part of life for children in La Carpio. Many are regulars, and new participants join regularly after witnessing the laughter and fun of weekly sessions. Unlike their daily lives in La Carpio—where many are afraid of discrimination, abuse, or neglect—all children are invited to participate and feel included.
"Peace is something you have to work for, it is not just given to you."
Play for Peace Mentor
La Carpio, San José
While Costa Rica is famous for its beautiful beaches and nature, it is not without conflict. Many flee there from Nicaragua only to face racism, exploitation, and more. One of these areas is La Carpio, where Play for Peace recently opened a club and is working hard to unite the community.
It’s always an eye-opening experience to visit with our clubs in the field. Last month, Play for Peace development officer Katrin Hünemörder spent some time with our club in Costa Rica, in the community of La Carpio—the biggest slum in Costa Rica.