Since launching the Costa Rica Corps on April 1, we’ve connected with volunteer applicants from around the world – including many Costa Ricans eager to give back to their country from afar. Gabriela Díaz is one such volunteer, and she’s gone on to provide support for Nicaraguan refugees in Costa Rica by offering them virtual, small-group classes in yoga and stress relief.
Gabriela is a Costa Rican living in Rotterdam. She has been an avid practitioner of Ashtanga yoga for years, and has amassed experience in both teaching, and in stress relief techniques for refugee populations. She says that when she heard about the Costa Rica Corps, she jumped at the chance to connect with Costa Rica in a new way.
“I am so grateful for this opportunity,” Gaby told us last week. “It is really special to me because I don’t live in my country, and I felt like I really wanted to help during the pandemic.”
The Corps connected Gaby with Ticos and Nicas: We Are Family, a Costa Rican association that, among its many programs, offers Humanitarian University Grants (HUG) for refugees who had to abandon their studies when they fled Nicaragua because of oppressive government actions there (read more here). She worked with Nancy Lumbi of the Association to coordinate online yoga sessions for a group of young Nicaraguan HUG Scholars studying at the ULACIT in San José.
“I’ve been teaching yoga here and there for quite a while, but it has never felt so fulfilling as now,” Gaby says. “These students are just such wonderful people, and it feels like they can really use the little bit of relaxation that the yoga provides… especially right now, during the lockdown. They’re mainly at home, studying a lot, and some of them are even working full time, so it means that they can’t all come to the class all the time. We’ve been doing it once a week on Sundays, and I’ve started recording the sessions so they can keep practicing during the week.
“I am really grateful to the Costa Rica Corps for giving us this opportunity,” she adds. “Thank you everyone who is behind this program!”