Llano Grande School, Los Angeles de Sarchi

school Llano Grande

Helping to Pay It Forward - Llano Grande School

by Tiina Laara

Note: this is a series of articles outlining past, current and future needs at this small remote school outside of Sarchi. We decided to keep all articles posted so folks can see that progress HAS been made, that donations are really going into direct actions.

There are many needs for donations and contributions for the kids at the school ”Llano Grande” in Los Angeles de Sarchí, where most kids are from poor Costa Rican farm worker families who work the coffee-,  tomato-, and sugarcane fields in the area. As one of the underprivileged and under-prioritized schools of this region, Llano Grande has huge needs to be able to give a good education to the children.

We are all quite aware that there are a lot of schools and poor kids around, but I think it’s good helping one at a time. I live here in the Sarchi area and it feels it’s the right thing to do. I also know this school and its headmaster, and the English teacher is also a very old friend of mine from Sarchí.

My longtime friend Roy Alfaro Alfaro is an English teacher who worked at this school until the end of 2014, and he has been trying since he left to organize a donation program from anywhere possible. With his small teacher's salary, he still goes every year to the store and buys uniforms, shoes, books, pens and other school materials for the poorest of the children. He found the furniture (very well used, but serviceable) for the eating area (photos), tables and chairs for the classroom from some other more-wealthy schools, etc.., and salvaged plates, knives and forks from his other job at a downtown school in Sarchi.

Last year at Llano Grande school Roy found out that one of the little girls was cold, shivering and without socks. Eating insideHe asked where her socks were. She said she didn’t have any. So, he bought a pair for her. Week later she did not have the socks and he asked where are the socks he bought. She said she and her two sisters had made a schedule so they all can share the one pair of socks, so she gets to wear the socks every third day, and the other days it’s her sisters who wear the socks. Roy went out and bought two more pair of socks…This is one of many true stories from this school and the kids there. It is heartbreaking and, with a little compassion and a small donation, repairable.

The school already has had donations made by some lovely Canadians who paid for the pavement of the football field, the digging of dirt to start making a concrete wall by the main classroom, and who also donated warm clothes for the children to wear during the cold periods in winter.

Last year the staff worked hard with lotteries and flea markets to raise money for the kids eating area, and managed to make enough money for the walls and windows and a concrete floor. Until then the kids where eating outside even on a rainy day. And on butter boxes and Axiom-jar lids instead off of plates. 
Thanks to a dedicated young headmaster and his very motivated teachers and staff, things are improving for these kids and this little school up the hill. But, they can really use your help.

main classroomA woman nearby cooks the food for the kids in her house and brings the food every day. The need for a stove on the premises is huge, as well as the need for pots, pans and other kitchen utensils, so they can start cooking food on spot at a lower cost and better menu right there in a school kitchen and eatery.

One of the teachers recently successfully raised money for a new classroom. Today the school is far too small for the area, 64 kids in 2014, 18 of them in the recently built Kindergarten. The project with the new classroom will start as soon as this June (2015).

Here is a list of priorities we recently made together with the headmaster, Ignacio Araya. School starts next week so the need is prioritized here below:

1. Uniforms for school (uniforms and shoes are required to be purchased by the families and children without uniforms and shoes cannot attend school to get an education), cost $20 dollars each uniform (two uniforms per child), shoes $15 dollars, at least. Approx. $55-60USD per child.

We now know of 6-8 kids who urgently need uniforms. Together with the headmaster and my friend Roy, we will shop the uniforms for these special kids, so your  money is guaranteed to go where it is intended.

libraryOnce we have taken care of this top priority, we will try to address the following needs:
white copy paper
colored copy paper
plasticino for kindergarden (kind of clay)
Legos – used,
Educational toys, any kind
Paletas (wooden stick that is on ice-cream), they use to build small things
Used carpets and pillows for sofa, nice clean ones, e g living room carpets. Kids sit and read on them. Concrete floor is very cold.
Cones for physical education (like the ones the transito carries but red)
Uniforms for physical education
Books for children to read in Spanish and English
Donations to buy school books used in classroom

We further more need donations for these things below.  Anyone willing to start a project for some of these bigger and more costly projects:fence needing repair

Playground equipment e.g. swings and the like
Tile and concrete for the floors everywhere.
A concrete wall instead of today´s broken fence by the road
A paved walk to the school from road entrance
A new classroom so all kids can go to school in the morning instead of altering between groups in the morning and afternoon
Stove and other necessary things for a kitchen to be able to cook  

New eating areaWe would be glad for your donations already at the Women’s Thursday lunch, if someone wants to contribute to buying some or all of the uniforms and shoes.

I will have a book with me to write the donations and we´ll start buying them ASAP. since school starts this Monday the 8th.

As for used things (books carpets, etc.), let me know where to pick them up or we can meet anywhere in Grecia, Sarchi, or at the Thursday luncheons at the Grecia Social Club or at the Blooms meeting February.

Thank you in advance for your contribution. English classroom

I´ll have more information coming up on FB page School contributions Central Valley Costa Rica.

We will show the purchases and tell you about the donations if you care to join us.

We will be very happy for contributions by all of you who are willing to do something large or small to enhance the education of these very needy, but eager children and bring the school experience to a higher and more meaningful level for the poorest of the children in this area.


Kindly Yours, Tiina Laara, living in Sabanilla, Sarchi, Central Valley of Costa Rica
Phone or text costa rica 8427 2156 or sthlmtina@gmail.com
A FB page is being created for more info...

Headmaster with donationsThe Latest on Escuela Llano Grande

First, on behalf of Tiina Laara, Roy Alfaro and the staff of Escuela Llano Grande, a loud shout of gratitude and appreciation to their many new friends and supporters.

Due to the overwhelming support coming in just a few days from the wonderful ex-pats of Sarchi, Naranjo and Grecia (most of them subscribers of Que Pasa), no students will be staying home from school this year because they have no shoes or uniforms. 

new stove!And, well beyond that, the school will soon have a stove installed on site to fix hot lunches. In addition, there is the beginning of a permanent "trust fund" to help the school accumulate the capital necessary to enhance and finish its much-needed infrastructure improvements.


Congratulations subscribers!!! You really stepped up to "adopt" Escuela Llano Grande and have managed to make a positive impact on many young lives. A very warm, personal "thank you" from your editor.

walkwayHowever, the school's needs are far from fulfilled and I hope you will consider how you may be able to help going forward.

posted Feb 11

At right, the new covered walkway for the school. We all know what a difference any cover makes when it's pouring!







Escuela Llano Grande has their Playground!

Except for a few more improvements still in the works (we'll keep you posted as they are completed), the Escuela Llano Grande playground is complete and the children are really enjoying it.

playground right

The deepest gratitude to everyone who contributed. A very, very special debt of gratitude goes out to William Rodriguez, muebles artisano of Sarchi Sur, for his many hours of planning, labor, and financial assistance on this project. This comes along with our blatant recommendation to consider sending your furniture and cabinet business his way. Without his contribution, the actual implementation of this project would have ground to a screeching halt.



Big Trouble in Paradise

by Tiina Laara, Jan 15, 2016


First of all, a happy new year 2016 to all of you and many thanks for your very generous contributions last year to the school of Llano Grande in the Sarchi hills. We should all be proud of our efforts and the result. We also were able to motivate the community to become active and help themselves working solely for the sake of the school. I will post some photos later aafter the school year begins.

School starts on Tuesday, February 9, and there is great difficulty at the moment for the student families living in the village of Los Angeles de Sarchi (El IMBO), where Escuela Llano Grande is located. Most of its citizens work for the coffee plantations and the nearby sugar cane plantation, They have been on strike for not having their salaries paid in December and for not receiving their Christmas bonus. This story has been on Costa Rican national TV and in the national newspapers as well.

Ignacio Araya, the returning Llano Grande headmaster, will be back at the school in February. He says there is also a dispute about the ownership of Hacienda La Luisa, the coffee plantation company that bought the Hacienda from its former German owners, which is causing additional difficult and confusion.

Due to an absence of salaries, the people of the various canton neighborhoods of Valverde Vega collected food, supplies, and clothing in December to help the people of the village.

Some of the salaries and back pay have now been paid, but not all. It´s said that the Hacienda La Luisa still owes its workers at least one month's payment and bonuses. The government has also ordered the company to pay the social security costs due  the 8th of January. It is unknown if those payments have been made. So, this lack of income in December for an already poor community of Costa Rican farm laborers is, of course, a great concern of ours.

On behalf of the kids, their families, and the school staff, I am asking you again to dig deep for donations to, at least, pay for school uniforms, shoes and pencils and books that are required just to get these children into class in 2016. If you have extra food--rice, beans, sugar, flour, spices, jello, fruit drink mixes, etc., I know these items would be appreciated, as well.

I will bring our donation book to all occasions if you can to contribute in any way.

On behalf of the students, families and teachers, I thank you very much in advance,

Tiina Laara

January 2016

Directions to Escuela Llano Grande in Barrio Los Angeles de Sarchi ("El Imbro")—Coming from Grecia
Take the main road from Grecia to Sarchi. Escuela Llano Grande is due north of Sarchi (located in what Google Maps calls "Los Angeles," and what locals call "El Imbro"). The school is on the road headed to the mountain valley community of Bajo del Torros. So, you will turn right in Sarchi Sur maybe two miles before getting to Sarchi centro, The signs for the road to Bajo del Toros are visible, but can be missed. In Sarchi Sur, there are two roads that more or less merge together and turn into the route to Bajo del Toros. One road is a right-hand turn (after turning, go until it deadends take a left and a quick right). This first road is just before the large, colorfully painted Chaverri Fabrica de Carretas souvenir factory and gift shop on your left or, if you miss it take the next right-hand turn (look for Muebles Valeria) around the corner after Chaverri and the traffic signal (sometimes on, sometimes off) and go straight ahead 100 meters, and then bear left. You should see a "Bajo del Toros" sign. (Very near the sign is a church, with a school and small medical building both across the street).

The school is about 6 or 7 miles up after entering onto the Bajo del Toros road from either of these two access points. Go up about two miles or more, and you come to a "Y" in the road--keep left and follow the winding road along the ridge past Igelsia Santa Luisa on your right and the old red-orange cane processing facility on your left. Keep going up the winding road (you will pass some white concrete fence rails with blue tips on your left, and cane and coffee fields on both sides. Look for signs of civilization  on your left (houses and Escuela LLano Grande), this should be Barrio Los Angeles de Sarchi. Turn left sharply up and park.