Lynn Student Travels to Costa Rica with Ambassador Corps
Greymar Maldonado, a 20-year-old Lynn student from the Dominican Republic, travelled to Costa Rica this summer and worked with a local non-profit organization called Transforma to empower women in extreme poverty.
Maldonado recently participated in the Ambassador Corps, an eight-week program that sends students to developing countries to do an internship with non-profit organizations. While in Costa Rica, Maldonado measured Transforma’s impact on the lives of local women and assisted a marketing professor in one of the classes offered by the organization.
“I decided to go to Costa Rica because it is a country that speaks my native language: Spanish,” said Maldonado. “I knew I would feel comfortable and be able to connect with the women. I did not want to go to a country where the language barrier would be a challenge.”
Transforma, which means transform in Spanish, was created to help some of the most vulnerable people in Costa Rican society: elderly women, undocumented immigrants, single mothers, abused women, prostitutes and addicts.
Many of the women that turn to Transforma live on less that $1.25 a day and face challenges such as food insecurity, job insecurity, irregular income, lack of healthcare, inadequate housing, domestic violence, teen pregnancy, lack of education and lack of career skills. Some women that Transforma works with are undocumented Nicaraguan immigrants living in squatter communities. Many of these immigrants escaped their situation in Nicaragua hoping for a better life in Costa Rica, but the aforementioned challenges prevent them from progressing.
“The women in Transforma were very friendly and positive despite their economic situation,” said Maldonado. “They always had a smile of their face. They never came with a bad attitude. They obviously come from very humble situation[s] with houses with dirt floors that are falling apart, but they are trying to get out of that situation.”
Transforma teaches women a variety of skills ranging from entrepreneurial education for self-employment to direct trade training for cosmetic work, textile creation and production and massage therapy. The organization also offers classes for conflict resolution and human trafficking prevention. There are even special programs to reintegrate women involved in prostitution or suffering from drug addiction into society.
“I would like to keep volunteering a[nd] help people in need,” said Maldonado.
Maldonado is double majoring in forensic investigations and psychology. She aspires to become a clinical psychologist and provide free therapy for the women of Transforma. Maldonado plans to return to Costa Rica over Thanksgiving break to visit the organization, her coworkers and the women she helped.
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