Lake Cowichan’s

Lake Cowichan’s

Earthquake doesn’t rattle traveler’s volunteer plan

Volunteering helps recent UVic grad set career direction

  • Sep. 12, 2012 9:00 a.m.

The countdown is on — my plane leaves for Costa Rica in two weeks. I’m headed to a rural beach town called Playa Sámara on the Pacific coast.

I’ll be working with La Asociación CREAR (Creatividad, Arte Y Responsibilidad), a non-profit that plays a very active and key role in the community. CREAR’s programs focus on youth with limited resources, providing supplemental education and recreational activities free of charge. I’ve spent the last year volunteering as an adult literacy tutor in Victoria and I’m excited to continue teaching, and working with kids will be a fun change of pace.

In Sámara, and the surrounding region, children often only attend school for three to four hours a day, and afterwards they are frequently left without adequate supervision, as many parents must work full time.

According to their website, CREAR “utilizes this free time and provides the children with new learning opportunities that not only enhance their own educational and personal growth, but that of the town’s future.”

CREAR’s commitment to the residents of Sámara, and the surrounding rural beach communities, is more important now than ever before. On Wednesday, Sept. 5, a 7.9 magnitude earthquake hit Costa Rica. The epicenter of the quake was just west of Playa Sámara. As of Sept. 7, Sámara and surrounding communities were without water and have not yet had a visit from any government official.

The morning of the earthquake, I packed my apartment into boxes and prepared to live in Sámara for a month. My TV screen flashed images of fallen trees, blocked roads and cracked concrete. News stations reported that the residents of Sámara were forced to evacuate for fear of a resulting tsunami.

“Everyone is okay, but structurally things are rough. Broken concrete, broken windows, personal possessions and more. Not to mention infrastructure and technology,” said Johannah Waite, developmental director of Asociación CREAR, in an email.

Although I haven’t met the people of Sámara yet, I am already deeply concerned for them. The backpack I plan to take seems so small now, as I try to stuff extra school supplies and stickers in for the kids.

“It was like nothing else in my life,” Waite said. “But people here are strong and we continue on.”

If you’d like to donate to CREAR please visit their website at :; or feel free to contact me directly if you have any items you’d like to donate (or a monetary donation) at :