I arrived in Costa Rica a year ago to teach English to third graders at a private school in Jacó. My Spanish was limited to “¿A qué hora llega el próximo bus?” – what time does the next bus get here? – but nevertheless, I was excited to live at the beach and experience the pura vida lifestyle.
After I had settled comfortably into my new routine, I found myself looking for an extracurricular activity that didn’t involve 25 children or watching Netflix. I wanted to get involved in something positive for the community.
I asked around and spoke to my fellow schoolteachers, and I was surprised to hear that several of them volunteered for a local organization called Karma Tribe – part humanitarian movement, part tech start-up.
“It’s an amazing project that’s going to change the world!” my colleague Jacqueline told me excitedly. “It’s a new way for people to connect and start helping each other.” She encouraged me to get in touch with Dave Grillot, the founder, living in the nearby town of Playa Hermosa.
When I met Dave, I was impressed by his enthusiasm to make positive things happen, his inspiring team, and his ambitious vision to create a worldwide movement based on kindness.
Karma Tribe is a global community of people who help each other for free. It works through a website, funded and designed by Dave himself, which is an online social network platform where people can make a profile, and then offer and request services of any type.
After you receive help from someone through Karma Tribe, you leave them a reference on their profile, like “Juan helped me fix my bicycle. Thanks Juan!” This keeps the platform transparent, in the style of AirBnB.
Everything on Karma Tribe is given from the heart, with no expectations of anything in return.
I found the concept intriguing, and I was amazed to see the variety of interesting favors available on the Karma Tribe website. People from around the world were offering things like graphic design help, tourism guidance, marketing help, ukulele lessons, and offering to walk your dogs, to name a few.
I joined the platform and answered a request that caught my eye. A woman named Silvia in Cartago was requesting English classes. This was the beginning of a delightful relationship. Silvia and I began to meet once a week on Skype, speaking 30 minutes in English, and 30 minutes in Spanish. As an unintended consequence of wanting to help her, my dream of learning Spanish is starting to come true, and my vocabulary goes beyond public transportation schedule requests. I also now have a new friend.
Since I had experience working in the film industry, Dave asked me to help with the creation of the Giant Heart Video Contest promotional video. After several weeks of severe sleep deprivation, we were able to launch our cyber video contest.
It was a resounding success. The winning video, “Los Ríos No Se Devuelven,” selected by our five celebrity judges as “most inspiring the viewer to make a change for a better world,” was promoted to one million views on the Karma Tribe Facebook page, sending a highly inspirational message throughout Latin America about the power of coming together as a community to create change.
It still gives me goosebumps to know that I played a role in creating waves through social media for an important environmental purpose.
After the contest ended, my role evolved to being a photographer for Karma Tribe’s biweekly beach clean-ups, as well as a production assistant for their weekly Facebook Live show “Blissin’ Out” on Sunday mornings, where we conduct interviews with inspiring people from Costa Rica and share their messages with thousands of viewers.
Meanwhile, Karma Tribe has grown steadily, and now has over 3,100 members in 56 countries helping each other through the platform.
When Dave revealed his plan to me to create a crowdfunding campaign to bring Karma Tribe to the next level, I was overjoyed and truly excited. He has given so much to the community, and now it is fitting that he reaches out to the community for support to spread kindness around the world in a bigger way. (The campaign will support Karma Tribe’s efforts to build an app to make the platform more accessible, and to make it possible to coordinate community projects.)
Karma Tribe is a rare opportunity to “be the change.” You can find out who you can help and connect with them. If there’s something you need, and you are financially limited, you might find it being offered by a fellow kind soul. Imagine if this grew to millions of members, helping each other in every country of the world!
“When you give from the heart, what you get back is far greater.” My experience with Karma Tribe has proven the power of this philosophy. I gave to the project, and I have gotten back so much more: friendships, experiences, connections, unexpected opportunities and deep fulfillment from the knowledge that I am making a difference.
I hope that the people of Costa Rica will rally around this beautiful cause to spread the spirit of generosity around the world.
Do you believe in the power of kindness?
Pavi Ramani lives in Costa Rica, teaching English and learning Spanish. Her passions include travel and wildlife, and she hopes to explore this beautiful country even more in the future.