La Carpio is a slum outside of San Jose, Costa Rica where roughly 40,000 people inhabit 145 square miles of government owned land. Over half of the population live below the poverty line and have no formal employment. La Carpio is surrounded by two rivers and one landfill that receives over 700 tons of waste daily. It often spills into the community. Dirt roads weave between houses made of corrugated sheet metal, and there is barely any electricity or running water.

I spent two weeks in La Carpio volunteering in a church and teaching art to the children. La Carpio represents everlasting faith  to me, because faith is the anchor of this community.  The Pastor, Felipe, and his wife, Xiomara, were the most selfless people that I have ever met. When I asked Felipe if the children and I could paint a mural on the exterior wall of the church, he happily gave me a few bible verses to choose from to incorporate into the design. We had very little resources so we painted most of the mural with our hands and sticks. It was messy, chaotic and awesome.

On my last day in La Carpio, The Pastor and his wife gave us a generous afternoon snack of oranges with salt – a welcome treat on a stifling hot day. I will  always think of the bible verse on the mural as Felipe's mantra, as it was quietly demonstrated in front of me often. “Jesus said, I am the light of the world, those who continue on with me will not walk in the dark but embrace the light of life."

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