Crossing Cultural Boundaries

Maria came to us as a young BriBri woman; reserved and unable to speak much Spanish.

Maria was placed into a pre-arranged marriage at the age of 13, she became a mother in the months that followed, and she now has five children. Maria was raised in the jungle without electricity in dirt-floor homes and did not go to school. 


Through El Puente’s school program, all 5 of Maria’s children have successfully attended school. Just as important, with the assistance of  El-Puente Maria, has now mastered the Spanish language and also has a beginners grasp of the English language.  


Her strong spirit and new-found communication skill helped Maria find her confidence.  Today she is an active member of the Bribri community, and the greater Puerto Viejo community. She speaks-out with a contingency of women who work for indigenous and women’s rights. She has even spoken with the President of Costa Rica.


Years ago El Puente helped Maria acquire her own sewing machine and showed her how to use it. Through the years Maria’s skill with the sewing machine has excelled. Today, one of her mini negocios (businesses) is making these great over-the-shoulder bags that the El Puente Kids use for school!

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