L-R: Cristhian, Casey, Nonie, Bernan, Linda and Eneida. Missing: Bill, Paola, Roberth, Jean & Chris

I’ve been living here close on 5 years now! How fast the time has flown by and how much I’ve learned. Who would ever have guessed that I’d become a fair judge of fruit & veggies ready for the picking, or be able to identify a number of birds by their call only? Of course the locals think I’m just off the boat, but that’s pretty normal in small communities the world over.

So, at this personal 5 year mark, and with Proyecto San Gerardo celebrating its 7th year of providing free classes in the area, I thought it was about time we said some special “thank-yous” in the community to some amazing people who have been so helpful over the years.

At our annual meeting on October 26th we publicly thanked ten community members for their support and presented them all with a certificate of appreciation – and local chocolate from Samaritan Xocolata.

1. The Asociacion (local council) of San Gerardo de Rivas for supporting us since 2007 with free use of a classroom in the community centre for our English and computer classes, and more free use of extra space for First Aid classes and Small Business Development workshops. Eneida Venegas, the current President, accepted the award on behalf of the whole council.

2. Linda Moskalyk – is resident artist and arborist at Reserva Cloudbridge. Linda not only created our café logo and sign but has participated in organizing evening fundraising dinners at Café Bambú. She is currently helping us with a sun-dyeing project to see if this could provide income for local women. Her website is http://prairieartist.com/

3. Bernan Blanco Calderon – Bernan has been around to help us MC events since the start! Bingo afternoons, sports evenings, all sorts of fundraisers and public events – we’ve called on Bernan and he and his microphone have always turned up. He’s just what we need!

4. Jeanne and Chris Brodin – this wonderful couple who have made San Gerardo their home jumped in right from the start. Jeanne is an expert sign-painter and Chris a wood turner and together they have created a wonderful fishing tackle business; see: www.brodin.com. They have made the Café a sign, order numbers and help out with many other donations.

5. Roberth Martinez – computer wiz Roberth has been maintaining and upgrading our computers since 2009. Vancity Credit Union in Canada donates our laptops so that students in our rural area can learn basic skills. To date we have trained close to 100 students and Roberth has always been there to help out when we’re in a technical jam!

6. Nonie Bradley – Nonie designed and leads our playgroup for children 3 – 6 in San Gerardo every week. Mom to 2 of her own Nonie knows how important it is for children to get a good start in life – getting to know their playmates, exploring art and music, developing their imaginations – it’s all part of getting children ready for school and what lies ahead.

7. Paola Villarevia Mora – Paola is our first local volunteer computer teacher. Paola lives in Herradura and has 2 children under school age but still finds time to help us out. Herradura students have benefitted from her calm and knowledgeable leadership. The course has particularly attracted and benefitted women in the area.

8. Casey Ella McConnell – Casey helped out a lot this year when we needed an ESL teacher in Herradura. She took over the adult and youth classes twice a week and everyone had a lot of fun practicing English with a lot of singing!

9. Cristhian Vargas Villarevia – is our new computer teacher in Herradura. Although he is only 18 years old he is a great teacher and a wonderful role model to other youth about helping out in the community.

10. Bill Green – Billl is our volunteer photographer and is the expert behind nearly all the images you see here. It’s been great to have his help capturing moments in our classes or at the café and Farmer’s Market.

It’s great to be able to count on so many wonderful supporters among the community of San Gerardo de Rivas. Thanks one and all for your diverse, incredible talents!