Mujeres de Isla Chira

While researching a project to experience in Costa Rica associated with sustainable business practices, I came across the amazing women of Isla Chira.

Women’s Collective Revitalizes Costa Rican Island Community

Here’s a beautiful book – a storytelling – about their journeys.

I am so very impressed with the foresight and determination of these women to improve their circumstances while simultaneously combating environmental degradation. They’ve developed unique, innovative, sustainable businesses and improved their lives and the lives of their families as a result, but just as importantly, they also broadened the perception of women in their communities. They are now viewed as strong and capable in ways they weren’t previously. There is a wave of change happening on a small scale there that could conceivably spread to the mainland, and I am very interested in their perspectives.

As one of my key interests in terms of this ‘internship’ was to explore environmental and social responsibility of local businesses in Costa Rica, especially as they relate to indigenous populations, I was thrilled to find out about the women of Chira. Here in Manuel Antonio I see a whole lot of exploitation alongside ‘eco-tourism’ operations, and I also see the lack of access and opportunity for local Ticos, so I’m eager to learn from the women and to understand how they were able to initiate and sustain such an incredible series of efforts.

I have two amazing women friends back home who work on coastal resource management challenges in developing countries, and specifically with indigenous populations. They helped me develop a series of questions for the women of Chira and I hope to interview a few of the founders this weekend – thanks Elin and Ellie! My trip was planned through Viviana, the administrative assistant at D’Amore, and as she doesn’t speak to me in English, I’m hoping I’ve conveyed my wishes properly! She and my wonderful Spanish teacher Keilyn will be coming with me, and we are all very excited. Viviana translated my questions to Spanish and set up tours of the mangrove restoration project (and hopefully the other cooperative efforts as well), and set up an overnight stay at La Amistad Lodge – built and run by the women. As this will be my first foray into a situation where no one speaks English, it should be a great challenge! Wish me luck!

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