With the participation of officials who dominate the cabécar, the Mixed Institute of Social Assistance (IMAS) reinforced the strategy of face-to-face and cultural attention to 1,313 indigenous inhabitants of the Chirripó district, in the canton of Turrialba, in the face of the COVID emergency.
Despite the pandemic, the institution has not been able to suspend the tours, due to the impossibility of providing virtual attention in the most remote places, where there is no internet access, knowledge of technological devices and not even electricity.
The IMAS care team in this territory is led by Yossebeth Coto Astorga -co-manager-, Arenides Salguera, a Social Development professional who serves in the area, and Gabriela Murcia, who works as a social worker and is the only Turrialba official of origin. Cabécar indigenous.
To address the impact of the COVID-19 emergency, the IMAS identified 51 families that have already received the emergency subsidy, adding an investment of ₡ 26 million. Likewise, staff from the institution, together with the Municipality, have coordinated efforts to distribute groceries in the community.
Among the programs with the highest coverage in this population are Avancemos and Crecemos. In the case of Avancemos, between 2019 and 2020, 341 high school students benefited, with a budget execution of ₡ 136.9 million. For its part, Crecemos, in the same period benefited 656 schoolchildren, with an executed budget of ₡ 242.1 million.
To offer care, in the district of Chirripó the IMAS has a multifunctional space for cosmovision, the “Indigenous Training Center”. There, the socio-educational and socio-productive processes are carried out with the beneficiary families and the staff performs primary care and provides scheduled appointments. In this way, the population gets greater access to the institutional programmatic offer.
Under this modality, each professional is organized with the number of families to attend per day, which amount to about 25 or 30 only in the Indigenous Training Center.
In other parts of the indigenous territory, officials coordinate with the director of the educational center, make the call limited to one person per family, disinfect the room, mark the distance, demand to wash their hands as part of the admission process, offer masks to those who do not wear it, and before and after each care the physical space is cleaned.
This protocol and the daily work of IMAS staff in the area, protects all people.
A professional, an assistant and a co-manager make the difference
Yossebeth Coto accepts challenges as part of her life. She is a co-manager of Turrialba, knows the territory, walks it, climbs it and faces the physical difficulties to reach each of the indigenous families that attend the IMAS programming.
The distancing imposed by the national emergency COVID-19 becomes a challenge in this area. In the field work she knows that she must take preventive health measures into account to do it safely for the people she will attend and for her. “Working in indigenous territory is a physical challenge. Access is complicated, transportation and food logistics are difficult, you have to protect yourself from the weather and animals, but the biggest barrier is the language that she is learning ”, she acknowledges.
Arenides Salguera, a Social Development professional who works in the area, studied cabécar at the University of Costa Rica and has investigated its culture and customs by teaching indigenous people with cultural positions, known as “seniors.”
Gabriela Murcia is also part of the team. She works as a social worker, she is the only worker in Turrialba of Cabécar indigenous origin, she speaks the language, knows the culture, customs and her work is very valuable in translations and interpretations.
All three value the importance of speaking and understanding the cabécar to facilitate care that is assimilated in depth. For this reason, the team strives to reduce the cultural distance that would generate an exclusion from benefits, especially in training or workshops, where questions about the programs, the time spent in them and receipt of monetary transfers, among others, are answered. .