Virtual Volunteering in Costa Rica with Indiana University
Xylem Partners with Costa Rica Makes Me Happy for a Virtual Volunteering Event with Students from Indiana University
Though COVID-19 has challenged the ability for travel, it has not eliminated global experiences. While a group of students from Indiana University (IU) may not have been able to be on the ground in Costa Rica to volunteer during their spring break, they were still able to virtually experience the impact of a project with Costa Rica Makes Me Happy (CRMMH) and Xylem Watermark.
The community of Tamarindo, Costa Rica has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with a large part of their economy depending on tourism. CRMMH, whose mission is to recover and repurpose plastic waste, build homes for families in need and educate consumers on the issues of single-use plastics, has stepped up during this time and adapted to meet the needs of the community. In addition to continuing their work to provide sustainable homes and reduce single-use plastic waste, the CRMMH team has partnered with a local feeding center and community members to provide meals. For a full week, students from IU had the opportunity to immerse themselves in the full scope of this important work.
Each day, the IU students joined a live stream broadcast where the CRMMH team was able to share the work achieved during the previous day as well as share plans for that day’s action. These sessions enabled the virtual volunteers to have a better understanding of the work and lively discussions around the project.
On the first day, the CRMMH team conducted a beach clean-up to collect plastic that were turned into concrete eco-blocks. At home in Indiana, student got in on the action by doing a clean-up event their own community. The following four days were spent using the eco-blocks to construct a house for a family in need of a permanent home. Through Xylem Watermark and Planet Water Foundation’s partnership, the home was equipped with an AquaHome system that will provide the family with clean water and solar electricity. To close out the week, the IU students and Xylem representatives joined the CRMMH team in an emotional handover to the new homeowners.
The CRMMH team continued on to build a feeding center in the area with the eco-blocks, where local in-need children are able to come and receive a nutritious meal each day. A team of Xylem volunteers also wanted to help support the feeding center, having previously worked at the center during a visit to Costa Rica in 2019. Together the team raised $3,000 in COVID-19 relief for families who are without sufficient food. The donation was matched 2:1 by Xylem Watermark and will go towards supplying meals and support for the community.