A Friday celebration: friendship, generosity, and the power of travel

I told you last week that I would have a terrific story for you come Friday. Then Friday came and the growing grief and fear in my home country made it seem impossible to talk about anything else.

One week later, it’s still hard to talk about anything else, but I can’t resist sharing this immensely inspiring story with you any longer. I hope it create a bright spot in your day the way it has for me.

When Ann Becker visited Costa Rica and its incredible Osa Peninsula in 2005, she fell in love with the country, like so many others. In fact, she chose to build a whole new enterprise around her new passion: Travel with Ann Costa Rica, which for years has organized hands-on, experiential trips that place travelers, particularly women, in contact with not only Costa Rica’s incredible natural settings, but also its people.

Community champions, nonprofit pioneers, social entrepreneurs, indigenous leaders, rural and urban families have welcomed Ann’s groups with open arms and built, in many cases, lasting friendships. She is now starting to focus on sharing her knowledge and networks with others who want to build meaningful travel experiences, and I can’t wait to see how that unfolds.

The reason I’m telling you about Ann tonight is that over the past few weeks she has invested incredible amounts of time and energy in spearheading an emergency fundraising campaign for one of the Costa Rican communities she knows and loves particularly well: Osa’s Drake Bay. The community was, and is, suffering from a hunger crisis because of the hundreds of families that have dedicated their lives and livelihoods to sustainable tourism, and lost all their income with the suspension of tourism due to COVID-19. Ann worked with the Drake Bay Nature Guides’ Association (AGUINADRA) and U.S. nonprofit Amigos of Costa Rica to put together the Drake Bay Emergency Fund and start raising money to help AGUINADRA respond to the crisis and put food on families’ tables.

She surpassed her initial goal and set a new one. On Thursday, her birthday, she surpassed that goal, too. That means that Ann and her networks in Costa Rica and far from Costa Rica have come together to help put more than $12,000 towards buying and distributing the food that is so badly needed in Drake Bay right now. It’s an astonishing feat, especially when you consider the tremendous demands on everyone’s time and money these days. And it will never be forgotten by many, many people on the Osa Peninsula, or by those of us who have cheered her on.

The best way to read about this effort is in Ann’s own words, so I encourage you to follow her on Facebook or check out her website. And watch this space for how her effort is inspiring others to set off on their own fundraising journeys.

Happy birthday, Ann.

I’m a writer in San José, Costa Rica, on a year-long quest to share daily posts on inspiring people, places and ideas from my adopted home as a kind of tonic during a rough time in the world. Sign up (top right of this page) to receive a little dose of inspiration every weekday in your mailbox; tell a friend; check out past posts; and please connect with me on Instagram or FacebookIf you want to learn more about how to support Costa Rica during the crisis, visit my COVID-19 section, updated regularly – or for ways to enjoy Costa Rica from afar, visit Virtual Costa Rica.

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