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Service Spotlight: Lilly P. on Lifting Hands

EF Gap Year student smiling and wearing a hat
Written by

Lilly P.

EF Gap Year Service Spotlight in Costa Rica
  • Publish Date:November 21st, 2023
  • Location:Costa Rica

Lifting Hands was the first organization my cohort partnered with on our Short-Term Gap program, Sustainable Development in Costa Rica; it was also the first time we were able to fully realize the impact that our service work had on the communities we had the privilege to work with throughout our month abroad.  

Lifting Hands is an amazing organization that allows children in the impoverished and underserved communities of Bajo de los Anonos, Costa Rica to have a place to grow, learn, and prepare them for life as adults. It was incredibly eye-opening and powerful to hear from these children firsthand about what they go through on a daily basis, and the ways this foundation, in turn, provides such a caring service for the community.  

EF Gap Year Programs

When my cohort saw how overgrown with weeds and unusable the space in the garden was, we were happy to help spruce up the place. Even though it took us all day to clean it up, we did it as a team and felt great doing it!   

With Lifting Hands, working on the garden didn’t feel like a “chore” or something I had to do—I wanted to do it! I believe a big part of that was knowing it would benefit other people and make their lives more enjoyable.   

EF Gap Year Costa Rica

My experience with this foundation really grounded me as my program began and encouraged me to realize that I really love helping other people because it gave me purpose. I discovered how something as simple as weeding a garden could bring joy to someone else and lighten their “to do” list a bit.   

Honestly, it was this volunteer experience with Lifting Hands that energized me for the rest of the trip—it was like a light switched on and truly understood that small, selfless acts could have a huge impact on other people’s lives. I was really proud of my contribution to get this task completed, and the smile on the kids’ faces was all the thanks I needed.  

Shaking hands EF Gap Year

During this portion of the program, I met Executive Director of Lifting Hands, Mariola F. She really changed my perspective; it was so inspiring to hear about her own experience becoming the leading director of the organization at such a young age, and how helping these kids has changed her life.   

Mariola's story gave me a chance to reflect; listening to how she described her experiences solidified my own call to and passion for service work. Most of my childhood I wanted to be a lawyer, but when I got to college, I realized it wasn’t law that I wanted to study, but people I wanted to help.  Having the experience with Mariola and the Lifting Hands children really put “people” in the center of my mind and inspired me to continue as a board member of the Prison Education Project and President of the United Nations chapter at my university when I returned in the fall. 

EF Gap Year student smiling and wearing a hat

Lilly P.

Lilly P. traveled with EF Gap Year on our Short-Term Summer 2022 Sustainable Development in Costa Rica program. She recently graduated from the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoā in Political Science and Peace and Conflict Resolution.

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