Children of the Coffee Update
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New Houses of Happiness (Casas del la Alegreia) to Open in Costa Rica for the Children of the Coffee 
 
Today, I got a email from my good friend in Costa Rica telling me that the  government was going to open five more Casas del la Alegria (Houses of Happiness). The Magic and Miracles continue.
 
Sometimes just by doing the things you love, you can change the world, and not even know it. Such was the case for Dr. Pablo Ortiz and humanitarian photographer Michele Zousmer, and publisher Maggie Gray.  
 
In 2013, I was producing a travelogue in Costa Rica and Panama called Myste Buzzed on Paradise.  It was about an avid coffee lover who set out to find the perfect cup of coffee in the best coffee regions of  Central America. While shooting in each location, there was one recurring theme: infants and little children working in the coffee fields in the blazing hot sun with their parents.  They had no shoes, wore ragged clothing and lacked the very basics of life. In my memory, it was haunting.  I have work with poor kids before, but nothing like this. As I reviewed the horrible child labor conditions in Costa Rica,  I promised myself that one day I would return and find those children, find out what was going on, and tell their story.
 
Well three years pass, and I had done nothing towards that goal.  THEN, I had a life altering experience that caused me to repurpose my life.  SO, I started up a Foundation called FAR OUT KIDS, did some research, and found a very engaging, compelling, and poignant story.
 
My search began with an article in FEM Worldview published by Maggie Gray. With FEM Worldview, Gray gave brillant female photographers a vehicle to showcase their work. It was in this publication that I discovered Michele Zousmer. The article was entitled Children of the Coffee and featured the "Treasure of San Vito", Dr. Ortiz.  
 
My search was over.  I had found the kids I was looking for in the jungles of Central America. They are the children of the indigenous Ngobe-Bugle.. 
 
Ironically, my story actually began in  2013.  While I was trodding through coffee plantation around San Jose following Myste the "coffee girl" around, Zousmer was visiting Dr. Ortiz and following him and his medical interns around shooting pictures of the children. Dr. Ortiz has been studying and working with the Ngobe for 30 years. 
 
Those pictures were used by the US Depart of Labor on Child Labor Abuses. Shortly thereafter, those pictures and an article in FEM Worldview created a firestorm in Costa Rica that changed the lives of the children forever.  

That is all I can say right now because my good friend, Academy and Emmy Award winning producer Gray Frederickson and I are producing a documentary on what has happened since those pictures were published. 
 
I can say that Costa Rica has gone from Worst to the Best in child labor in five years..
 
ZOUSMER WINS FAR OUT KIDS AWARD
 
The Humanitarian Award reads: "We greatly acknowledge your many years of dedicated devotion to the chronicling of marginalized people around the world. We commend you on your efforts as a Humanitarian Photojournalist Extraordinaire. We greatly appreciate your amazing photos of the Ngobe-Bugle indigenous people and their children, and give heartfelt thanks to you for bringing their story to life."
OSCAR, EMMY, GOLDEN GLOBE TEAM
 
For the past two years, we have been working on a documentary entitled Children of the Coffee

Academy Award and Emmy Award winning producer Gray Frederickson (Godfathers, Apocalypse Now) is the Executive Producer; Hector Alfaro Dobles of Cafe TV is the Central American Producer; Academy Award, Grammy and Golden Globe songwriter Carol Connors (Rocky, The Rescuers) has written the theme song The Children Are Comin' - Let Magic Begin; Grammy Award winning David Longoria (We Are One) has written a beautiful score; Emmy Award winning Gregg Mellott is crafting a poignant and heroic story; and we have Think Factory Media (Kings of Reality TV) working on distribution. 
It has been very busy and exciting  2017 for FAR OUT KIDS: We would like to thank our sponsors, Samuel Bistrian of Roma Boots, Armani Acqua for Life,  Water One World Solutions, Fritz Water Vests, Pure2Go Water Filtration System, Jason and Lili Giuliano, owners of Villa Amon and Jaco Laguna Beach Resort, Eric Lopez of Erick Tours Costa Rica, Dave and Paula Turner of Community Housing Council, Harry Heist and George Alcock of Casata del Bosco Resort,  Kathleen and Pepe of Casa Botania and Chef Victor of Villa Amon
WATER BEARERS IN COTO BRUS 

Dr. Ortiz, Michele Zousmer and Eric Steigelman at one of the 19 Casas de la Alegria Centers in Coto Brus along the Costa Rica Panama border.  It means Houses of Happiness or Joy. As a result of Dr. Ortiz's painstaking efforts and Zousmer's activism, since 2013 the number of centers has gone from four to 19 serving 25% of Ngobe children. On this day, they are delivering water filtration systems provided by Fritz Water Vests.
WINNING SONGWRITING CHAMP 
 
Award winning songwriter Carol Connors has agreed to write the theme song for our Documentary.  Carol is the lady who gave us Rocky - "Gonna Fly Now. 

Connors is one of the woman pioneers of music for film and TV in an industry dominated by men. She has been nominated twice for an Academy Award for Best Original Song, five Emmys, one Grammy and two Golden Globes. Carol holds an Honorary Doctorate Degree at John F Kennedy University of Fine Arts.

At age 16, she was  the voice of the Teddy Bear's "To Know Him Is To Love Him" written by the famous record mogul Phil Specter.
 
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