El Puente – The Bridge

“Your problem is to bridge the gap which exists between where you are now and the goal you intend to reach.” – Earl Nightingale

A long-time favorite destination for tourism in Central America, Costa Rica has also made a name for itself as a leader in environmental preservation and indigenous rights. While the country is a leader in that area, it is as much because they are involved at all as because they are making the right choices – mistakes happen, bad choices can be made, and there is always room for outside work.

One indigenous group caught in the middle of these troubles are the Bribri, numbering somewhere between 11,000 and 30,000 residents on the Talamanca Indigenous Reserve in the Talamanca region of Costa Rica. While the country established the indigenous right to their land in 1977, there are often disputes international groups like big oil companies and individual investors, as well as government-fueled domestic disputes over land – for more information on that see the previously posted film, “¿Que Será del Caribe?”

Land rights are certainly not the only problem facing the Bribri – the regular litany of health, education, women’s rights and more, also apply.

While some of the Bribri women in the village of Yorkin have certainly figured out how to take matters in their own hands, and some Bribri individuals have proven themselves particularly savvy when it comes to mixing Bribri knowledge with modern technology, by and large a gap exists between the tribal members and the rest of the country, as well as the modern world.

Ten years ago, Barry Stevens and Nanci Wright opened the doors of El Puente (Spanish for “The Bridge”) just beyond the edge of the Talamanca Reserve, a short ten minute walk inland from the shores of the Caribbean Sea.

With a multi-tiered emphasis on education, microloans, healthy meals, breaking the cycle of poverty and other problems facing the Bribri, El Puente is facing the challenge of preparing a civilization that has lived in the jungle for thousands of years to deal with the modern world.


El Puente – The Bridge from Actuality Media on Vimeo.

El Puente is currently very reliant on donations and so cannot be counted as self-sustaining. However, the varied programs that seek to tackle the many challenges facing the Bribri are great examples of ideas that could be replicated for good around the globe.

Director, Cinematographer & Editor: Robin Canfield
Producer: Aubrie Campbell Canfield
Additional Cinematography: Elle Marsh

Actuality Media is an organization that takes media students to developing communities around the globe to create positive media that tells the story of changemakers doing good works to fight societal and environmental problems that plague the world. These short documentaries were each produced during a thirty day outreach where crews researched their subject changemaker, wrote out their story, filmed and edited it.

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