In 1998, Campanario, with the help of a school group from California, initiated a school garden in a lot next toof San Josecito. The children were excited to be able to harvest some of their own food for their lunch program.
In 1999 the maintenance crew from Campanario assisted with reconstructing the San Josecito school kitchen and raising the level of the roof of the classroom. It had been stifling hot in the only classroom until the walls were opened up allowing more ventilation.
In 2000 we initiated a fund-raising program for the San Josecito school by selling note cards that the children had drawn.
In 2001 Campanario donated a fallen tree within the Biological Station to be cut, for building a new fence around the school to keep out the horses.
In 2002 our big project was to initiate a school library so the children could take books home to read and share with their families. Due to the extreme humidity, it was found that all books had to be transported back and forth to the various homes in zippered plastic bags. The library grew to approximately 50 books. Volunteers in 2002 also donated a manual alcohol ditto machine. Many of us remember those handy gizmos from years back, before photo copy machines. The last few months of 2002 found us working with the neighbors to build a new classroom and clean up the beach.
In 2003, through many visitor donations, we expanded the San Josecito library to almost 200 books. The school children also visited Campanario a couple of times for hikes and lessons on conservation.
In 2004, with an abundance of good will from student groups, the school's library jumped to over 600 books. This was also part of a Boy Scout project for an Eagle Scout candidate. A dedicated volunteer teacher organized, categorized, and inventoried all books and typed the information into the computer in the office - not a small task! Another student group spent a full day building a compost bin for the school. We're hoping that, once the routine to use the compost bin is established, this will provide plenty of fertilizer for the school garden.
In 2005, we conducted two conservation day-camps for the children of the San Josecito school. Then, with more help and donations from visiting groups, a library at the elementary school in the area known as Los Planes was initiated. Visitors were, once again, very generous, donating funds for the school to purchase a refrigerator (this school has had electricity for several years). This second school is a 2 hour hike from Campanario, requiring assistance by horse when there are a lot of materials to transport.
In 2006, the library collection and materials in Los Planes multiplied several times, due to overwhelming response of friends and loved ones of Priscilla Zamora Trejos, our beloved biologist who was lost at sea in February, during a diving accident off the coast of Colombia while she was working with a marine science NGO. The decision was made to dedicate the library to Priscilla, and thus it carries her name. The community, both local and international, responded with amazing generosity for the dedication of the library on August 5th. The library grew to over 800 books and the school received enough supplies for a couple of years.
Click here for a beautiful description of the library dedication, written by Kathie Durbin, special journalist to the Tico Times.
2007 found us continuing work with the Los Planes school. Campanario began to pay a small salary to a young mother in the community to maintain the library and function as librarian a couple of days a week for the children and other members of the community. A beautiful anniversary ceremony took place on the 5th of August to celebrate the first year of the Priscilla Zamora Trejos library. In addition, efforts were directed to initiating a library in the community of Sierpe, which has both an elementary school and a secondary school (7th - 11th grades). We invited the tourist businesses in the area to join us in this work. Unfortunately, coordinating so many people and institutions has become difficult, and this project has not proceeded as hoped.
2008 was a busy year for all of us in Campanario and for many of our student groups. Along with a small contribution to the Sierpe school, we have now embarked on creating a 4th school library in the area - in the Guaymí Indian Reserve. This is far from vehicular roads, requiring everyone to hike in through rivers and up very muddy trails. The student group taking on this project in the beginning collected an admirable number of books and school supplies, all of which were hauled to the school in back packs and by horseback. The struggle paid off when we all saw the smiles on the students' faces.
2009 was another good year for collecting many school supplies, Guaymi, Sierpe
2010 opened with Oklahoma Baptist University donating supplies to the San Josecito beach school. Elon University spent a full day, all 25 of us, painting the school in the Guaymi Reserve. With the assistance of a few other student groups, we were able to build almost two dozen 5-sided wooden cubes to be used as modular furniture/bookshelves/cubbies for the students of both the San Josecito school and the school in Los Planes. The boxes have all been painted with a variety of bright colors. For the anniversary celebration of the Priscila Zamora Trejos library in Los Planes, a visiting student group also donated a large filing cabinet and additional school supplies. A future project may be to locate donations of computers for this school. They already have a secure area and electricity.
2011 saw Elon University painting the trees in the Sierpe park. Elon also began an annual service of assisting a needy family in Sierpe. Once in Campanario, Elon visited the Los Planes school where they read to kids, played soccer, donated books, etc. The group from the Minnesota Zoo donated many gifts to the San Josecito school during a visit there.
In 2012, as in the previous years since 2007, Campanario continued paying the small salary to the librarian in Los Planes, making a few trips up to see her and the library. More books and supplies were donated to that library. Campanario was approached to help with a project to build and supply a library building in Sierpe. We’ll see where this takes us and how many folks in Sierpe get involved. Elon University again painted the trees in the park and helped with local businesses.
2013 Again as regular maintenance, Elon University painted the trees in the park and painted the school in Los Planes, as well as leaving the school several backpacks full of materials. Bunker Hill Community College donated several books to the San Josecito library during our visit there.