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Harris Fellman's Fundraiser:

Sponsor a Family in Costa Rica with CEPIA (to get out of Extreme Poverty)

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BENEFITING: OmPrakash Foundation

Harris Fellman

THE STORY:

We are expats from North America and Europe who have made Guanacaste, Costa Rica our home for a year or more. Some of us are staying, some of us are moving on. We all believe in leaving a place in better condition than we left it. CEPIA is a non-profit organization located in Huacas, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, the heart of a thriving tourist and ex-pat area. This area is lavish in natural beaches, awe-inspiring natural beauty, wild animals, and wonderfully kind and happy people. It's beauty has attracted thousands of people from all over the world to make it their home, and hundreds of thousands more to visit each year. Multi-million dollar beach homes co-exist with nearby wooden shacks. The cost of living is akin to many places in the western world and some locals have managed to carve out a good living for themselves amidst their wealthier visitors. However, many of the locals have not. Guanacaste is the 2nd poorest region in the country for the people living there. Hundreds of families in the area are in poverty and extreme poverty. Sometimes unable to feed their children 3 times a day, living on dirt floors, unable to afford electricity, and struggling just to pay the $50 per month "segura" that ensures them free medical care. Amazingly, there's actually a solution and you can do your part for just $52 per month. CEPIA helps children and mothers that are in extreme poverty and poverty actually learn how to get OUT of poverty. The old parable that says "if you teach a man to fish - he'll eat for a lifetime" runs strong at CEPIA. (Although, as we've quickly learned, sometimes you have to "give someone a fish" for a few days just so they have the strength to pick up a fishing line!) CEPIA teaches moms and teenagers important life skills that enable them to get out of poverty. They have a mandatory 'pay it forward' type of program where all the mothers in the program are also required to help out at the center a few hours a week, too. In talking to the director of CEPIA, we uncovered a very sad (but fixable) number of families in extreme poverty aren't being helped at the level they could be. A whopping 83% of the families that have applied at CEPIA and identified as being in extreme poverty are not being sponsored. Like me, you're probably thinking, "it must be a lot of money to sponsor a family, right?" Wrong. It's just $50 per month to sponsor a family that's in extreme poverty with CEPIA. "Oh, well, then with 83% not being sponsored, there must be hundreds in extreme poverty." Nope. Wrong again. While hundreds have applied at CEPIA, at this writing, only 125 have been identified as being in extreme poverty with over 300 "just" in poverty (still struggling, but there's a different program for them.) So, 21 of the 125 families in extreme poverty are being sponsored at $50 per month. This $50 buys them food, school uniforms, backpacks, and most importantly access to courses on entrepreneurialism, english, managing finances, occupational skills and more. It's a program to give them the base foundation to begin digging out of poverty along with classes that teach them how to 'fish' in the local expat and tourism pond and get jobs or start businesses that provide for their families. Now the last thing you might be thinking is, "ah - only 21 families are currently being sponsored, there must not be that many people that could afford $50/mo to sponsor living in the area". Wrong again. There are over 300 families alone that go to two of the local private schools who pay more than 10 times that just to put their kids in school. Not to mention the thousands of retirees and other expats living here that would certainly feel that $50 is just a drop in the bucket. (Heck, a dinner at one of the local restaurants is going to cost you that in a heartbeat!) Now, before you think the local expat community is a heartless bunch, we are not. We give to plenty of local charities... helping dogs, monkeys, children, families, and more. Of course, many of us already give to CEPIA during one of the two local fundraising events that raise 10's of thousands of dollars annually. However, the funds from these charity events go to other programs within CEPIA. (Christmas dinner, backpacks, uniforms, classes and more for the over 450 families in both poverty and extreme poverty.) So, we come to you today looking to close the gap on extreme poverty in our area. When I learned that there were only 21 families being sponsored and the cost was just $50 per month, my heart fell into my stomach, and then both fell to the ground. So, this leaves a remaining 104 families that need a sponsor. These are real people with real children with a real desire to provide for their families. You'll get info, pictures, and sometimes letters from the families that you're sponsoring. If you live here locally or come to visit, you can usually arrange to meet the family. And most importantly, you'll not only be making a real difference in one families life, you'll be part of a greater solution that can quite possibly end poverty in one small (and beautiful) corner of the world. We're asking for $52 per month instead of $50 to help cover the credit card processing fees. However, once you sign up for the program, you won't have to remember to make your payment again and your family will continue to get support. Crowdrise will securely take care of each month's payment for you and your family will continue to get support until you want to stop. Many families get out of extreme poverty within a year of the program - for some it's impossible due to disability or other circumstances. However, once a family recovers, the money will go to sponsoring another family in need as well. So, just $52 a month to help a family get on their feet. We've made it as easy as possible thanks to Crowdrise. Now, all that's left for you is to do is select how many families you'd like to sponsor per month and follow the simple instructions that follow. :)

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