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Forgotten Costa Ricans featured on Facebook

You salivate over the fabulous food photos on Instagram. You plan dream vacations on Pinterest. You keep up with your neighbors on Facebook. But what about that other neighbor – the neighbor who is more concerned with finding food for her children than in photographing it for the Internet?

With so much of our lives happening on the Internet today, it is easy to forget about those who are not online.

“Social media has united people but has also created a bubble where we unwillingly exclude people in need,” said Major Gerardo Gochez, public relations officer with Costa Rica’s Salvation Army. “Most of the daily tweets are about food, joy, beach trips and outings with friends. With this campaign, the Salvation Army wants to give the forgotten a place in social media where they can show their reality, thus making the community aware of them.”

The goal is to raise awareness that the poor, sick and hungry need much more than money. These “forgotten” people need understanding and a hand from all of us to get their lives back together. By putting photos of their lives on social media, the Salvation Army hopes to raise this awareness and inspire more people to volunteer.

The campaign started last March. So far, it has received almost 7,000 likes on Facebook, where photos and videos of the forgotten are shared. Before the campaign, the Salvation Army had very few volunteers. Within the past two months, more than 70 volunteers have showed up to help. Yet while the campaign has increased the number of volunteers, more are needed, Gochez said.

Plenty of opportunities exist to donate time at any of the 14 community centers located throughout the country. Volunteer possibilities range in scope. For example, a language school has partnered with the Salvation Army to provide service opportunities for foreign students in Costa Rica who want to learn Spanish. The students volunteered in corps to help children in need. Currently, the Salvation Army is in dire need of bilingual volunteers to work in the office, translating letters from sponsored children or doing simple paperwork.

The Salvation Army also accepts money and donations of used goods. It resells the used goods at low prices in the San José store located between 3rd and 6th streets, on the corner of 18th Avenue. Donating your gently used items also helps the environment by giving the items a second use, as opposed to sending them to a landfill.

“I believe in this project. It will save the life of a whole family, not just one person. My family is proof of it,” Gochez said.

Gochez himself has personal experience with the saving grace of the Salvation Army. His alcoholic father entered the ARC center in Costa Rica 30 years ago seeking help for him and his family. His father received support and became sober, Gochez said, which was something he had never seen before.

Today, Gochez and all of his siblings are leading happy lives. “Without the help of the Salvation Army, the story of those five children could have been very different and even tragic,” Gochez said.

The Salvation Army invites you to follow and support the “forgotten” campaign. Here’s how you can help:

Follow and share the links below on social media:

Facebook: los olvidados por la sociedad
Twitter: @losolvidadoscr
Instagram: @olvidadoscr

Donate money (85-89 percent of donations will go to sustain programs in needed communities)

Donate gently used goods (these can be dropped off at any of the 14 locations located throughout Costa Rica)

Donate your time as a volunteer

Call or email for more information: 2257-7535, ext. 107,

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