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El Puente - The Bridge

TESTIMONIALS: What ARE People Saying?

"Costa Rica might prove addicting"

"The Bridge" website mentioned in a Sunday newspaper in Pittsburgh

Sunday, June 10, 2007 By David Peters, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"Obras, No Palabras."

Spanish for "Works, Not Words" An embarrassingly wonderful article written by Sally O'Boyle, who recently visited here with her boys and  wrote us up in her blog


El Puente - A Volunteer's View

Dawn Pruitt has done several volunteer activities for The Bridge, and recently

Visited here. Her great blog writeup can be seen by visiting

Barry and his talented wife have a clue.......they are providing reading materials to the young children when they can. They have a chance to make a difference.    Their work is not patronizing.  It is powerful and seminal and admirable.  Some of those BriBri may have already become inoculated with the love of reading and the true meaning of literacy.

Alexandra Lancaster, San Isidro de Heredia, Costa Rica                                                                                                                           

Hi Barry and Nanci,

The experience we had with Maria's family and the children of Mayra continue to crop up in our conversations, particularly with our girls.  Indeed, this is one of the reasons we left home with only the possessions on our backs.  We wanted to show the girls different lifestyles, culture and language, to be sure, but we said that we were looking for visionaries.  People who live their everyday lives as if things matter.  This will have a lasting impact on our girls, we hope, rather than paying lip service to the philosophy back home in our comfy environment.  Thank you for illustrating just what we were expressing to our children in terms of living a life of purpose.

Kind regards,

Janet Losole, Lloyd Stringer, Jocelyn, Natalie   Jaco, Costa Rica

FROM ASHLEY CAWTHRA, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Prior to leaving for Costa Rica I had no idea what to expect or what my involvement would require of me.  Over the course of several emails with Barry Stevens, the co-director of The Bridge, there was never an agreement with regard to the work I would be doing.  The plan was to arrive with my boyfriend Alikhan and stay for 4 weeks in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca and spend two more weeks traveling around the country.  For the most part, I found myself very frustrated with the lack of information on what needed to be done and what was available for us to do.  Over the 4 weeks it all became very clear as to why Barry did not offer any tangible options.  Life and times are slow paced in Puerto Viejo and things change and happen daily.  For example, a huge hawk needing care was dropped off by a passerby, simply out of the blue.  During our first meeting with Barry and Nanci Stevens we made a tentative work plan which included Soup Kitchen at The Bridge and working with Don Candido the BriBri medicine man.  They explained what The Bridge does and more about the Bribri, an indigenous group on the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica.  Nanci drove us home that evening which would become a routine trip home from The Bridge over the next 4 weeks except on bicycles. 

Day by day I learned more about The Bridge and how it began.  The house in which Barry and Nanci live is on a trail where the BriBri hike out of the mountains and into Puerto Viejo.  Over time they became acquaintance with a BriBri man named Daniel who would bring people that needed love, care and help to the Stevens.  One such individual is Pedro, an aging BriBri who was incredibly thin and often searching for scraps of food in the garbage around town.  Barry and Nanci brought him onto their porch and gave him a bowl of soup.  They quickly learned that because some of the BriBri have had little contact with the outside world they have different social customs, little or no knowledge of Spanish, or other basic things in our culture.  Pedro continued to come for soup until he passed away . 

Before Barry and Nanci moved to Costa Rica, they sold their home in San Diego, California and brought only their most valued possessions and left for solitude and a simple life.   Today they rely solely on donations, living simply with very few amenities, yet never turning anyone away.  What the Stevens do out of their home is their life, moreover it is their passion to make a difference and make change where they feel they can.  Seeing the passion, strength and commitment of both Barry and Nanci is incredible.

During the first few days we spent at the Stevens they strongly encouraged us to watch the movie The Secret and we did.  I had a really hard time understanding the concepts in the movie though I didn't walk away empty handed.  One of the principles that Barry and Nanci live by is the power of thought or as I like to call it the power of positivity.  Based on The Secret, the power of thought means that if you think it and believe it, it will be.  At first this concept to me was a little outlandish and unbelievable.  Barry would catch me saying something like "I always forget soup spoons" and point out the power in the statement and the alternative.  One of the simplest ways they demonstrate the principles of the power of positivity is through their statements.  It is a small practice that exemplifies the larger overall practices that they live their lives by and operate their not-for-profit by.   

It might seem that finances are always an issue at The Bridge, however, the Stevens never see it that way.  Nanci always talks about the building on the land next door that she wants to build, she even has the fabrics picked out.  Whenever there is a conversation about money, they both always say that the money is on its way and at first I was surprised when things would show up.  A few days after the Stevens car had broken down a family from the United States showed up with a donation for $185.00.  The family never called, had never been in contact with The Bridge, just kept updated through the website.  A few days after Nanci gave out the last few colouring books and crayons a huge box of supplies came in from a guest staying at a nearby hotel.  Seeing and experiencing the power of positivity  has been the most important lesson that I have taken home and continued to both use and experience. 

The entire 6 weeks spent in Costa Rica was a learning experience where I met many people, learned about myself and about the hidden BriBri culture.  I appreciate new and zany people that walk into my life and strongly believe that we are all one people and need to work as one people.   

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