UNHCR Visits La Posada Providencia

UNHCR Visits La Posada Providencia

On a sunny Wednesday morning, a team from UNHCR arrives, stepping onto the dusty road to
begin their tour of La Posada Providencia. It is their first stop on a day of visiting shelters in
the area. Around the flagpole, at the center of the community, they join guests, volunteers, and
staff echoing Sister Terez’s strong calm voice as she leads the Pledge of Allegiance. It is a
morning tradition, and voices lift together in a variety of accents and understanding. As she
heads toward the classroom where English lessons are also a tradition, Sister gently bids
everyone a blessed day, setting the tone of peace and renewal that is the foundation of La
Magda, Executive Director, details some history for the team. She points out features of the 10
acres and its buildings and the many changes to the organization that has been receiving
refugees and asylum seekers since 1989. Jorge, Case Manager Supervisor, shares that we are
standing on the spot where vehicles deliver newly arrived guests to the community. Magda
and Jorge’s demeanor and enthusiasm give voice to the care and love for every guest,
whether here for an hour or a year. Deeply mindful of the trauma and fear each endured before
arriving, the staff warmly welcome every individual and family with gentle attention to their safety
and comfort. As guests are oriented to the community grounds, rules, meals, lodging, and
safety, nervous tension often eases. This is a new beginning, and while many challenges and
emotions are ahead, for now, guests can lay aside their fear and begin renewal.
The wail of a small child catches the group’s attention, and we move aside on the path to the
children’s playground where a woman carrying him passes us and enters the gate to the
colorful slide and rocking horses. Case manager and child advocate Olga’s soothing voice
calms the little one, and they are soon playing together. Olga is tireless in her loving support of
the youth that comes to La Posada. If the tour had arrived at sundown, she might have been
seated on the grass mentoring young men just returning from the local high school. Olga’s
grace, heart, laughter, and energy exemplify La Posada Providencia’s staff. Each member of the
team carries that same soul of commitment and love without borders. Some staff members
and volunteers are former guests. Having “walked in their shoes” they offer guests now
arriving an empathy and understanding unique to La Posada Providencia.
As the visit draws to a close questions fly, especially about needs. A bus? New buildings?
Funds? Yes to all. The team seems reluctant to leave, and it is clear that the unique soul of
this shelter for refugees and asylum seekers has touched them. If they stayed longer on this
Wednesday, they would witness efforts to find health care for a child with epilepsy, to find a path
to literacy for an adult who grew up homeless and without education in his home country, and
so much more. Each day diverse challenges arrive at La Posada. One hallmark of this special
place is unfailing willingness and flexibility to accept and meet those challenges; whatever it
takes. At the end of the day, they would understand what every guest at La Posada, past
and present knows: You are now part of a family that works, shares meals, and cares for one
another across language and cultural differences. The respect and love given to you are yours
to keep as you will move toward your new future.
Goodbyes complete, their car turns down the dusty road and the UNHCR team moves on to
the next destination. Before leaving, there are offers of partnership, training, and various
supports. They will be back. La Posada Providencia always draws you home.

Author: Kathy O’ Hanlon

Program Highlights

Clients assisted from July 1, 2021 – February 19, 2022 (Fiscal Year):

Clients assisted from February 6, 2022- February 19, 2022

The following fifteen (9) Countries of Origin represented in February
Costa Rica
El Salvador
Sri Lanka