Calle Esperanza returns after the pandemic
Last Saturday, July 2, the Calle Esperanza project of ARCORES Costa Rica and the CEAR (Centro de Espiritualidad Agustino Recoleta) of Costa Rica was resumed in San José. This programme had been paralysed for some time because of the pandemic. The night was rainy, and a tropical storm was forecast. But that didn’t stop 20 volunteers from going out to meet people living on the streets.
“The meeting was centred on active listening to dignify the street dweller. A hot meal was shared with them, but the main objective was to make them feel loved and recognised as human beings with respect and dignity,” explains María Eugenia Trujillo, coordinator of ARCORES Costa Rica.
A necessary plate of food
“Returning to the streets after the pandemic filled me with joy, because I could once again bring them that plate of food that so many need. One of the people admitted to me that, since covid started, they haven’t received food as often as before,” explains Carmen Frías, a project volunteer.
“Feeding the hungry is one of the works of mercy that every Christian wants to do for others. However, at Calle Esperanza this work would not be complete if we did not offer our brothers and sisters on the streets the opportunity to feel like human beings with dignity and to see the face of Jesus in each one of them,” says Frías. She has been with Calle Esperanza since its inception in 2018, and recognises that what has kept her there “is gratitude to God for giving me the opportunity to contribute a grain of sand to the well-being of these people”.
“What for some is a little thing, for them is a lot. Offering them a plate of food along with a bit of company is priceless to them. Although what they don’t know is that, on every trip to visit them, we are the ones who receive the most”, stresses Carmen.
Happy despite the cold and rain
On this first outing after the pandemic, he was marked by a migrant mother with her four-year-old son. The little boy “kept repeating that he had crossed a mountain. In his innocence, he did not understand the danger this represents, and the courage of his mother to offer him a better future. Despite the hunger and the cold, and wet from the rain that lashed San José that night, he could still smile”.
She herself recounts another of the most special moments she has experienced in Calle Esperanza, this one before this break: “On one occasion I had the opportunity to hug a young man who was missing his mother. I told him that I am a mother too, and that the hug I was giving him was a mother’s hug”. But two other moments also marked her: seeing a person shivering from the cold wrapped in plastic and “being moved by the solidarity that exists between them in the face of a sick colleague”.
“My fears paralysed me”
While Carmen Frías is already an expert in Calle Esperanza, Daniela Miranda is a newcomer. “For many months, I had been anxious to carry out a service in this project. However, my fears paralysed me. I was anxious about what I could pass on to the street dwellers. On Saturday night, I accepted the call. It was a very beautiful experience, I was able to overcome my fears and share with so many people who helped me to appreciate all the blessings I have. I want to continue with this service, I want to continue learning from them and give all the help I can”, explains Daniela.
Alejandra Vargas also considers it a “spectacular experience”. “Immediately, after thanking us for the food we were bringing them, the street people began to share their experiences”. Marco’s story stands out in particular: he is 35 years old and has a bachelor’s degree in logistics. He is an only child, and his mother was diagnosed with a degenerative disease. He is proud to say that he stopped working to take care of her. In less than a year, she died, and Marco fell into drug abuse. For the past few months, he has been on the streets. “When we return from the visit, we simply feel a sense of gratitude to them, because we receive more than we give,” Alejandra says.