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CEPIA » Women's Courage


February 28th, 2013 by sophiacr Leave a reply »

This week I would like to tell you about CEPIA (Culture, Education, and Psychology for Infants and Adolescents). CEPIA is a non-profit and non-governmental organization that aims to provide cultural and educational activities as well as psychological services for underserved children in communities of the Guanacaste province on the Pacific Ocean coast of Costa Rica. The organization’s mission is to improve the quality of life of children and adolescents. This organization does not focus on addressing commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) directly. However, I believe their efforts truly help with this issue indirectly.

The province of Guanacaste is a very popular touristic destination. Although this is beneficial in many ways, the booming industry also makes the children in these communities more vulnerable to sexual tourism. Moreover these communities are marked by stark inequalities. If you walk along the coastline you can quickly transition from beachfront mansions, usually owned by foreigners, to beachfront slums, usually owned by locals. Sadly, a high prevalence of poverty and domestic violence, including sexual abuse pervades in many families in the area. As we have learned, both domestic violence and poverty can drive children into prostitution.

CEPIA provides psychological assistance to children and adolescents survivors of abuse and violence. The organization also offers an after school program which includes computer and English lessons and sports programs. CEPIA also offers professional trainings in cooking, crafts, beauty care, eco-jewelry and others. Additionally, CEPIA supports students living in poverty by providing them with school materials, transportation, and uniforms.  This is very important because although education is free, these economic barriers still keep many children and adolescents away from school. The organization also hosts the only public library in the area, every Saturday afternoon.

CEPIA is also wonderful for addressing community needs not only by working directly with children and adolescents but also with their families. The organization hosts family movie nights every month and conferences for parents twice a year. Additionally, single mothers living in extreme poverty, who can be mothers of clients or clients themselves, can receive economic support by volunteering with the organization. CEPIA’s psychological, educational and cultural services helps children and families heal and become more empowered, which is likely to help them attain better opportunities in life and break the poverty and violence cycle.





  1. crennels says:

    It sounds like CEPIA really knows how to help the community by becoming part of itI like the idea of bringing together many influences on a child’s life into one sphere– mental health, education, etc.

    I also especially like the idea of mothers volunteering for the organization. This seems like a great way to help the community take ownership of the organization. If they feel like they helped to build something, they will be more invested in it in the future.

  2. Christina says:

    Sophia, thanks for writing about CEPIA. This sounds like a really cool organization just because it offers so many different ways to help children and adolescents in Costa Rica. I think it’s especially neat how the organization provides financial assistance to single mothers who volunteer with the organization. This seems like a great way to both help mothers in need while also empowering them and ensuring that the program can continue to run.

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