In Samara, we don’t have a Care Network or CEN-CINAI (Centers for Education and Nutrition and Childhood Comprehensive Care Centers).
The lady who sells handicrafts with her little ones, the one who goes out to sell ceviches, to sell rice pudding or the one who leaves them for a few hours under the care of the family’s eldest daughter. They and all the mothers of Samara need and want to work, but to do so with all of our rights and those of our sons and daughters, we urgently require a childcare center.
We women are the main ones in charge of caring for minors, but we feel institutionally violated because they don’t provide us with the resources to have autonomy and full rights for us and our sons and daughters.
And it’s not a whim. Minors are going with their mothers to work, to sell handicrafts or food, often exposed to the sun’s rays all day and without adequate food.
They’re on the street, where there are drugs, abuse, violent situations, prostitution, or in environments that aren’t the best for their development.
We’re hindered by lack of support from the Mixed Institute for Social Assistance (IMAS for the Spanish acronym), the CEN-CINAI and the Municipality of Nicoya. You, officials, can help us to have some social justice.
In Samara, there are only options for families who have money and can afford access to some of the services from the four private educational centers, which are very expensive and out of reach to the low-income population. Then what do we do?
We feel that we’re living in unfair and unequal conditions. A good part of Costa Rican children are on the streets, struggling, losing the most important years for their development.
Before 2012, we had an infrastructure, which ended up closed due to the earthquake in Samara. Currently there are more than 200 children and almost 100 pregnant and nursing mothers who receive milk from CEN-CINAI every month in the community hall. To these, add almost 30 families with almost 50 boys and girls on a waiting list for CEN-CINAI.
Despite the demand, the State hasn’t rebuilt a building or given us a solution.
We’ve been giving it our all. A group of mothers formed a Childhood and Adolescence Committee. We met with the National Development Institute (INDER for the Spanish acronym), with the Municipality of Nicoya, with directors from IMAS and CEN-CINAI. But it seems that nothing is making progress. The vice mayor of Nicoya Laura Rivera told us that building the CEN-CINAI would take at least three years.
Since last year, we’ve been holding meetings and writing letters. We’ve contacted the institutions, but nobody provides a solution.
I wonder who really cares.
It’s urgent for us. That’s why we also contacted Marta Chaverri, the director of the Creciendo Feliz (Growing Happy) Foundation, which has a Comprehensive Care Center (CAI for the Spanish acronym) in San Jose.
From those conversations, we were able to get one to open this month in Matapalo of Samara, which provides care and four mealtimes for children from 0 to 12 years old. This CAI could be part of the National Care Network, if IMAS approves the budget for the agreement. That is what we need, but for now the response from IMAS is that we wait, without even giving us an approximate date.
We feel desperation and great bitterness at not having a safe place that we can count on to leave our boys and girls, to go to work or get training in order to give them a better future.
We urgently need a childcare option in Samara that also serves the surrounding towns of Torito, Matapalo, Cangrejal, Cantarrana, Buenavista, San Fernando, Terciopelo, Maquenco, Cuesta Grande, El Silencio, Chinampas and Santo Domingo.
Melody Raquel Villegas Rubinowski was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1988. She has lived in Costa Rica for four years and is the mother of two Costa Rican children. She is a survivor of domestic violence, head of the household and coordinator of the Samara Childhood and Adolescence Committee, which fights for gender equality and for the fulfillment of children’s rights.
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