A Brief history of the Ilori Children’s Education Program

Way back in October 2008, WWD-F in Costa Rica created the Ilori Program specifically for at-risk children, most affected by HIV/AIDS, crime and poverty, by engineering workshops that awaken the children’s creativity through dance, art and music; offer exercises to improve their flexibility, motor coordination and equilibrium; as well as use creative visualizations to develop their concentration, attention and memory.

A critical component of these workshops was to convey different values such as respect; taking care of self, one another, all life forms, and things; sharing; co-operation; the value of friendship; etc, as well as to promote an awareness of ecology in its broadest sense, by encouraging respect and care for all living beings. We also provided the children with healthy meals, emphasizing the importance of good nutrition.

In 2009, WWD-F organized a total of 12 workshops consciously designed to raise awareness and develop friendly attitudes to nature and the environment.  These workshops were known as, “The earth is my home so I take care of it.”  To achieve our objective, we offered the children a series of participatory experiences which allowed them to reflect on the importance of caring for the environment by taking them to various national parks, ecological nurseries, aquariums, as well as visits to local rivers and mountains.   Through stories, puppets, theatre, talks, and games, they learned about ecology, recycling, basic care of animals and plants, and how and why to keep the environment clean.

In addition to our “The earth is my home so I take care of it” series, we celebrated International Children’s Day at the national amusement park, and ended the year with a special Christmas party, where the children played co-operative games, swam in a swimming pool and were given gifts.  A local company generously donated jumping castles, candy floss and ice cream.  This Christmas Party was such a success with both the children and the parents that it has quickly become an annual tradition (for photos of the 2010’s Christmas Party, visit here!)

The majority of these children are immigrants living, in the slums of Costa Rica, in tiny tin houses, with no green areas, unpaved streets and poor drainage. Most families do not have the financial resources for recreational and leisure activities.  Therefore, our workshops give the children the rare opportunity to positively interact with other children and adults; make contact with and enjoy nature; visit beautiful places which otherwise would not be accessible to them; learn all kinds of things; play; and introduce them to different music and arts.  We believe that through these activities the children have been able to develop social skills, practical living skills as well as self-confidence and self-awareness.  For more photos of past workshops, please visit our FaceBook page!

But we would rather you hear it from the children and mothers themselves:

Fabiola, 14 years old

My name is Fabiola and I live in Asseri, San Jose, Costa Rica with my 2 younger sisters and my mother.  I come to the Ilori workshops with my aunt, grandmother, sisters and cousins.  In the beginning I was not keen in attending the workshops as I am quite shy and found it difficult speak to people. Now it fills me with happiness to see all the children enjoying themselves, their smiles, their screams, even the ones that cry bring me joy.

I stopped being so quiet and now speak to all the people, and even though I am a teenager when I am with the children of Ilori I feel like a child of 7years again.  In the workshops they teach us respect, cooperation, to share, honesty, no fighting, never to give up, to care and love each other and many more things.  We also have a chance to play and enjoy ourselves.

What I really like about the Ilori workshops is the following:

They help us when we have a problem.

They teach us moral values

We get a chance to know beautiful places

They treat us with a lot of affection

I can only say thank you very much for everything they have taught me, my sisters and cousins.

Karla Payan, mother of 3 children: Bradley, Vanessa, and Illaney

Ilori workshops teach the children to share, to dialogue, they motivate the children to become independent and more humble, to respect and to care for each other and that we are all equal.  It is a great opportunity that they give us and I am very happy for what they do for us.  My kids become very excited when I tell them that we are going to a workshop with Ercy from Ilori.  God bless them for all they have done and I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart.  I am so happy that we got the chance to go to so many places that we did not know.  Once again, from me and my kids thank you so much.  God bless!