*a Rose Charities Canada Project


Visit our website dedicated to Proyecto San Gerardo

Watch the video and learn all about our programs and volunteer opportunities


The focus of Proyecto San Gerardo is to support the San Gerardo de Rivas community in its efforts to be self sustaining so that community members find additional opportunities to generate income in San Gerardo.

Specific goals include:

• To help develop the skills needed for the community to engage in ecotourism and small business ventures in an environmentally friendly way
• To support San Gerardo´s own development initiatives, building on local skills
• To promote San Gerardo as a tourist destination
• To support the needs of women and youth in the community

View Current Volunteer Opportunities

Current projects:

• English conversation classes for adults and youth in three centres
• Children’s English classes at Canaan and Herradura Elementary schools
• Computer classes: keyboarding, basic computer programs and internet
• First Aid courses
• Scholarship program for high school and university students in the region
• Continual updating of this website with news for the community and visitors
• Linking up with other community projects in the region
• Recruiting and managing an active international volunteer program

Completed projects:

• Keep Fit program for women – created in 2007 and inspired the development of many women’s fitness programs by the women themselves ever since.

• This website in Spanish and English to highlight tourist attractions

• Researching, writing and publishing the local history book “Senderos Campesinos

• Café Bambú – from 2011 to 2015 Proyecto San Gerardo managed a central property in the village from which to deliver English classes, a café, a restaurant apprenticeship course for women and a weekly Farmer’s Market and clothes recycling.

Ongoing plans:

• Developing more small scale businesses such as making and selling artesania, or accommodation like campsites and cabinas, and tours.
• Encouraging and supporting local artists
• Developing more opportunities for women and girls
• Continuing and expanding our training options for San Gerardo and neighbouring communities
• Expanding volunteer opportunities, cultural and language experiences, and training

About Rose Charities Canada

Since 2013 Proyecto San Gerardo is a project of Rose Charities Canada. Rose Charities Canada is a registered, non-profit organization with the Canada Revenue Agency, registration number: 59442303RR0001. Rose Charities Canada can provide a tax-deductible receipt for your donation to Proyecto San Gerardo.

Our Supporters
THANKS go to the following wonderful organizations for their financial support and gifts in kind:

BNI Foundation donated resources for our English and Computer Skills classes in Herradura

Read more about the BNI Foundation here

Vancity Credit Union in British Columbia donates all our laptops for Computer Classes

Read more about VANCITY here Vancity

And THANKS also to the many individual donors and their families who support our scholarship program Send a Student to School with Proyecto San Gerardo

More About Our Activities:

All our classes are free and delivered by volunteers in Spanish (except English Conversation). Students are encouraged to become members of Proyecto San Gerardo and get involved in some capacity. We deliver classes, provide scholarships and serve communities in the Rivas area including San Gerardo, Herradura, Canaan, Los Angeles and Chimirol.

Computer Skills – Nowadays it’s almost essential to know how to use computers – accessing information, keeping connected and organized are all important assets the computer age provides – and San Gerardo wants! The project is committed to finding ways to make this world a reality for the community – via Spanish medium classes and free access.

vancity logo In late 2007 the project was lucky to receive donations of computers from individuals and Vancity, a community-minded credit union in British Columbia, Canada. This has enabled us to fulfill another goal and arrange for computer skills classes in Spanish for the community. We offer:

  • Computer basics and keyboarding
  • Intermediate classes – WORD, Excel, graphics
  • Internet and email

The demand for classes is enormous and with the annual donation of more laptops we will be able to provide more opportunities to people of all ages and abilities to learn computer skills. Our curriculum in Spanish has been developed by experienced computer teachers and we are looking at expanding the classes to other areas if possible.

We are always on the lookout for volunteer teachers for both ESL and computer classes, so please contact us here to find out more.

English Conversation Classes have been popular since their inception in March 2007. Since San Gerardo is located next to Mt Chirripó 50% of local employment opportunities are with hotels, restaurants and as guides with tour operators so that knowing English is a definite asset in job-hunting. We offer group lessons at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels in three villages as well as an Amigos Ingles program that provides 1:1 English conversation maintenance and lessons outside the regular semesters. In Herradura we provide the elementary school English program for 25 children. Our need for qualified ESL teachers is constant. For information on how to get involved as a teacher, click here.

First Aid Instruction and Disaster Preparedness for Families classes are provided to the community bi-annually. This was considered necessary since the village is 45 minutes drive from a hospital or doctor. Being able to respond to medical emergencies, especially injuries, is very important in such a remote environment. Click here to read a story on teaching First Aid in Costa Rica.

Scholarship Program – in 2010 two of our English Teacher volunteers suggested we support a scholarship program to encourage youth to stay in high school or have the opportunity to study at university level. Since high school has only been available here since 2002 there are many individuals in their 20’s and above who only received primary schooling. Nowadays it is nearly impossible to find employment without a high school leaving certificate and so the small assistance we can offer helps encourage learning. Since the first university scholarship in 2010 Proyecto San Gerardo has agreed to help more students each year.

This website! Was developed as a community collaborative! In order to promote San Gerardo to visitors, its wonderful activities and places to stay, members of the local Chamber of Commerce for Tourism provided the content for this website. Developed in Vancouver, Canada, it is now maintained from Costa Rica and invites everyone to contribute to the blog – share your San Gerardo experiences with the world!

 Volunteer Program

Proyecto San Gerardo’s Volunteer Program is designed to provide volunteers with a varied and interesting work experience set within the context of the beautiful cloud forest with many opportunities for outdoor adventure. Volunteers are placed in homestays with trusted families who have worked with us since 2007 and help new volunteers feel at home quickly. Here is a ‘typical day’ for our volunteers:

      • Wake up around 6 am and enjoy breakfast with the family: gallo pinto, eggs, coffee
      • Early morning free to hike, visit the hot springs, study Spanish or…
      • Later on lesson prep for teachers volunteers start at 11 am
      • Lunch with the family around midday: the biggest meal of the day includes pastas, rice & beans, salads or vegetables and sometimes meat or chicken, as well as a dessert
      • Afternoon: teachers will be busy with classes from 2 pm onwards finishing around 6:30 pm
      • Back home around 6 pm – 7 pm for a light supper, or at weekends out with friends
      • Weekends free – go to the beach, climb Mt Chirripó

San Isidro is our closest city with banks, internet café’s, movies and restaurants. There’s a bus to town and back three times a day. The beach is another bus ride away and easily reached for a weekend; further on is Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio and Parque Nacional Ballena for slightly longer breaks.

The application process takes about a month and selection is based on the applicant’s qualifications, experience, length of commitment and ability to adjust to life in el campo Costa Rica. Knowing some Spanish is definitely an asset though homestays help enormously in language learning. Volunteers are matched with their homestays according to their ideal setting and there is a thorough orientation as well as exit program. Some subsidies are available for homestays according to the above factors.

Check out recent comments from our volunteers here: Volunteer Testimonials

More comments:

Amber: ESL teacher Jan – March 2009: When I arrived at the cozy little house in San Gerardo I was greeted by warm smiles and happy faces. The family was absolutely wonderful and did everything they could to make sure I felt at home. I had my own room with a single bed, and a decent amount of floor space (big enough to be able to do a little yoga). It was very nice to have my own space to be able to spend time organizing lesson plans or just getting away to listen to music. The walls of the house didn’t go all the way up to the ceiling, because that’s just how the house was built, but they offered privacy. I often went to bed early (around 8:30pm) because of the house being so open and would spend time reading books until the rest of the house quieted down.

Overall, it was a lovely experience and I would live with the family again in a heartbeat. They were wonderful and made me feel just like one of their own.

Michele: First Aid/ Disaster Preparedness Instructor & ESL teacher  March – May 2011: The support from PSG (staff) was excellent! I always felt supported, and whenever I had doubts I could count on help. It was a lot of classes, but they were manageable and enjoyable since I felt supported and appreciated by the staff. Would definitely consider doing it again, if the timing worked out!

This has been a huge growing experience for me! I know my Spanish greatly improved, and I felt completely immersed in the community. It has really been a special and unique experience, and I feel like I was able to make a difference. It was so rewarding to work with the community and provide invaluable skills with First Aid/DP classes and English classes. I really feel inspired by the Project and all the hard work that has gone into making it successful. I hope I can start something like it someday! Thanks for all the great memories, and I’m sure I will be back, at least to visit!

Kwame: Computer Skills teacher January/February 2011: Our home stay family was fantastic. They included us very easily and warmly into their house and family. We went on a tour of their farm, and we talked a lot to practice our Spanish which is very much appreciated. Also Jenny and Pedro showed us to their farm for coffee picking which was very fun. The community is very welcoming. Always greeting you when they meet you, and they allowed me to take part in their football training as well.

I have learnt massive amounts. My Spanish has improved greatly. Having to speak to people in Spanish has improved my communication. I have also learnt a lot about myself. Mainly that I need not worry so much and that I do not NEED lots of material THINGS in my life.  It has been a great experience!

Jessica: ESL teacher January/February 2011: I will take a lot away with me from this experience. It has been one of the highlights of my trip (and life!) I have enjoyed so much getting to know San Gerardo and living in the community. I have really enjoyed volunteering and teaching adults, which was new for me. The beauty and charm of the village make it impossible not to love being in San Gerardo. I feel very lucky to have had such a rich experience whilst travelling that was only achievable through volunteering for Proyecto San Gerardo. Thank-you so much, we hope to return soon!

For more volunteer news go to Proyecto San Gerardo