"Form of Suffering and Evil Is Here"
There could not be a more needy location in this country. Only 20 minutes from downtown San José, the capital, lies Alajuelita.
According to the United Nations, Alajuelita is the least developed community in Costa Rica . . . in last place, 81 out of 81 communities in the U.N.'s Human Development Index.
Like other government services, the schools are overwhelmed. There are only 2 for 150,000 people. Kids go in shifts from 7 am to 7 pm. Poor education threatens the children’s chances of ever escaping poverty.
Not only are we in the most problematic community of the country, we work in the most problematic part . . . the worst, most dangerous slums, like Tejarcillos . . . rows and rows of shacks, where more than 2500 families fight to survive, turning to drugs and alcohol to escape.
Says Mayor Victor Hugo Chavarria, "We are a canton (town) without opportunities for 1,000s of youth who neither work nor study. We are producing delinquents. Every form of suffering and evil is here. The drug dealers come here to recruit kids to distribute, the car thieves recruit kids to steal, the pimps carry away our children into prostitution "
Slum communities are on the rise at an alarming rate, and their problems are being neglected. One out of six people in the world today lives in an urban slum. Every day, there are 50,000 new slum dwellers. The UN projects that, by 2050, half of the world's population will live in urban slums. Yet only a handful, one out of every 6000 missionaries, serves there. Most governments, churches and traditional ministries are at a loss to know what to do with slum communities.
Love At Work Ministries is called to work strongly with these kids and their families in these most dangerous areas, using a holistic approach that impacts them mentally, physically, spiritually and socially.
We Go Where Others Do Not Go
Love At Work Ministries’ strategy for revitalization brings together elements of the community to work in the most precarious (“risky”) neighborhoods of Alajuelita.
We go into the most dangerous areas where others simply do not go to demolish nuisance properties, build new homes, make infrastructure improvements, meet basic needs for food, water, sanitation and medical care, provide neighborhood support through outreach events and programs, camps, discipleship and improve access to quality education.
Our efforts have broken down barriers and built friendships, trust and understanding. This is our most important community asset and gives us a strong foundation to build sustainable development going forward.