We are a nationally accredited non-profit organization that seeks to promote culture, health, sports and education for children and teenagers and their families from poor backgrounds in the communities of Guanacaste, Costa Rica. We’ve been active since 2005.
Founder and vice-president Laetitia Deweer remembers how she first thought about this project.
"It was around 15 years ago when I settled in Costa Rica and was working as a family counselor, that people started to recognize me in the village and ask me how I could help them with their difficult situation..."
How it all started
"I volunteered at first in the orphanage to really get in touch with the children. They had been abused and neglected for so many years... and I thought: We should prevent this, we should try to help people when they are in need, at the moment they need the help. Some people were deeply suffering... Children were hanging out in the street all day, not knowing what to do, and really vulnerable to anyone who could take advantage of them or abuse them."
History of CEPIA
"When we started CEPIA with myself and some friends we suddenly had 200 children show up at the center the first week! They wanted to practice arts, they wanted to get to see these new laptops, and they wanted to get support, and some kids started to open up and talk about his dad was beating him up, or my step-father is abusing me... these kids were opening up during games or activities or in any particular moment... and that's when we knew that this was an important initiative because kids finally had a place where to go. Kids needed to do something after school because they only have 4 hours a day school."
"Today you can ask people in any of these villages nearby if they know CEPIA and everyone knows CEPIA is protecting children. This is very important in an area and segment of the population with high rates of domestic violence and family disintegration."
Our founding members (2005) are: Laetitia Deweer, Lotje de Ridder, Caroline Lemaire, Van Salcedo, Gerardo Brenes Alfaro, Isabelle Vandevelde, Juliana Zuñiga Spano, Victor Ruiz Genoves.