In Spanish “El Refugio” means “The Refuge.” That’s what we provide the children of Jaco – a refuge in the midst of the chaos of this town. El Refugio is a calm in the midst of the storm.
In this community many children are living outside of God’s intentions for them.
Broken families, drug addiction, higher school drop-out rates, underage prostitution, poverty and abuse are just some of the challenges Jaco faces.
God creates every human as a vulnerable child… and He expects us to develop through play, creativity and exploration in a safe and nurturing environment.
We want to cooperate with God’s intentions by creating space for children to build relationships with adults who care about them and model love to them.
The best way to bring lasting change to Jaco is by reaching out to the children and families…
… and that’s What We Do at Our After School Kids Program!
With the challenges these children face, many important aspects of their childhood are missing or have been destroyed.
By providing a place to be creative and play, our hope is to bring back and restore some of those essential components back into the children’s lives.
Prevention is the idea…
We want to keep these children from heading down the dangerous slippery slope into Drugs, Prostitution, and the Darkness that is So Prevalent in Jaco.
How these children grow and develop today shapes who they will become in the future!
If we can help meet some of those developmental needs we will be so happy to know that we are bringing a smile to God’s face. Because He loves these kids way more than we ever could.
The Challenges of Being a Kid in Jaco, Costa Rica
All children in Jaco are at high-risk because they are living in a town filled with drugs and prostitution.
Poverty, broken families, small, crowded living spaces, and a lack of positive role models compound these risk factors.
We highlight 3 of the missing pieces below.
“Only two of every three enrolled students in first grade complete sixth grade, and only one in every three students complete secondary education. These enrollment percentages drop with declining family incomes in all age groups.” (Read more)
“Teachers rely on rote learning methods. Generally, teachers write on blackboards and students copy from the board or from a textbook. Textbooks are limited, so children generally work in groups, with one child reading from the text while others copy from it.
Books are scarce, and school libraries are either non-existent or filled with very old books. Few extra materials are available and books are never taken home for study.
Additionally, most schools do not have paper for children to use, and teachers must buy their own chalk and other teaching tools.” (Read more)
Lack of creativity in their lives
Providing opportunities for creativity helps supplement the school experience, and for kids who have dropped out, sparks a love of learning.
Creativity is also essential for cultivating a deep love relationship with their Creator God, who is Himself Creative!
Here’s what we mean by “creativity” and why it is so important:
“Some may say creativity doesn’t really matter. Who cares if a kid can paint a picture as long as he can read, right? Well, creativity is more than the ability to wield a paintbrush. Creativity is what gives all the math and reading skills application, and therefore, meaning.
Creativity certainly is the source of inspiration for great works of visual art, literary novels, music pieces, and productions of stage and screen. But creativity is also the wellspring of problem-solving and inquiry. Creativity is the ability to think outside of the box, to be curious and resourceful.
Children who are creative are better prepared to be successful and thrive as children and as adults. Creativity aids in navigating social relationships and is the true source of all great professional accomplishments.
Divergent thinkers not only become the painters and authors of the future, but they are the coaches who create game-winning plays, the entrepreneurs who find new ways to meet their customers’ needs, and the medical professionals who develop cures for our toughest diseases.
When we view education as an information in – information out process, that’s all we can hope for our children to gain: information. If we want information, we can go to Google. If I want innovation, we need human creativity. Until we introduce an element of ingenuity, inspiration, and application, we’ve done little more than create a generation of encyclopedias.
With so much emphasis on standardized, rote transmission of facts too many teachers and parents are feeling the pressure to leave out the creative aspects of education and simply check off tasks from the curriculum list. They’re eager to be sure that students know how to fill in the right bubble on their multiple-choice tests, because that is what the powers that be will look at. But in the process they may fail to light the fire of innovation and creative problem solving.
One of my favorite developmental theorists, Jean Piaget, said, “The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done- men who are creative, inventive and discoverers.” (Amanda Morgan, Not Just Cute)
The gospel of Jesus is a relationship and children’s primary way of learning is through modeling. As adults model the love of Christ through relationship, it opens a door to share this life changing story in a way that can truly transform lives.
Spending hours playing and just being available to children cultivates deep relationships and in this way the message of Jesus can go forward and take root deeply in the lives of children.
This program is a complement to all the amazing work of the churches in Jaco and our goal is to plug each child into a church family where they can continue to grow spiritually throughout their lives.
Help Us Bring God’s Love into the Lives of Hurting Children and Families!
What we do here at El Refugio is truly an oasis in the midst of the darkness of this town… and we need your help to continue this work.
We do not receive a salary for this work we do, but rely on donations from friends and family. Would you consider investing into our lives and helping this project continue?
In the same way one wave is made of many drops of water, so your sacrificial giving, even a small amount, helps to maintain this ministry. We can’t do it alone.
You can make a donation below, or visit our finances page for more information and tax-deductible giving options. To find out more about Scott and Leslie, who they are, their ministry history, work and lives, go to the “about” page.