I researched and wrote this piece in a different, pre-pandemic world – for one of my favorite publications, YES! Magazine. Its release was delayed by the COVID-19 coverage that the magazine needed to undertake, and the headline is very poignant now because of all the anti-Nicaraguan sentiment that has grown in Costa Rica in recent weeks because of the interaction between migration dynamics and COVID outbreaks. I just spoke with a Nicaraguan leader this morning who is experiencing terrible xenophobia in Costa Rica right now, so the phrase “Costa Rica’s embrace” weighs heavy on my heart.
However, this just makes a spotlight on the grassroots efforts of Nicaraguan migrants in Costa Rica more important than ever. I hope that this story helps remind people that immigrants and refugees are making an increible contribution to Costa Rica and to all countries around the world.
It was a tremendous honor to meet Elizabeth, whose story sparked the whole piece, along with Carlos, Margarita, José, José Andrés, René and the other incredible Nicaraguan and Nicaraguan-Costa Rican leaders I met along the way. It was also an honor to learn more about the amazing work of Asociacion Ticos Y Nicas: Somos Hermanos, the HUG program at ULACIT, SOS Nicaragua D.H desde Costa Rica, and the Fundación Transforma, led by Vanessa Valenzuela. These organizations and their communities need our support more than ever before, so I hope you will click through to those tags and learn more about them. U.S. citizens might be particularly interested in the donation option for Ticos y Nicas and the HUG Scholarships, here through Amigos of Costa Rica.
I am very grateeful to YES! and editor Lornet Turnbull for making it possible for me to share these stories. This was a wonderful return from editing to reporting, and I loved every minute I got to spend with these simply extraordinary human beings. I hope you do, too. (Featured image by Carlos Huezo/SOS Nicaragua.) Here’s the story: