Skip to main content

For the 2023 CAS Project Challenge, we were once again impressed by the remarkable creativity and determination displayed in the submissions we received. Selecting the top project is a challenging task, but a comprehensive evaluation by a panel of expert judges concluded that CARES rightfully earned the distinguished honor of CAS Project Challenge Winners.

The innovative approach and resilience demonstrated by CARES’ team members – Sarah, Marianna, Ankit, and Jeshaiah – throughout their CAS Project have already yielded a significant impact. Operating in Costa Rica, they have been instrumental in providing essential resources to enhance the prospects of Venezuelan refugees for a better future.

We are delighted to support CARES as they continue their mission of effecting tangible change. Moreover, we eagerly anticipate their participation as honored full scholarship guests at the upcoming Global Student Conference in Edinburgh, where they will have the opportunity to further showcase their impactful project.

CARES – A beacon of hope for Venezuelan refugees

CARES, a non-profit organization, works towards providing Venezuelan refugees in Costa Rica with essential goods, reducing inequality, and supporting the 10th Sustainable Development Goal. They distribute these goods with the help of organizations like UNHCR and HIAS. Utilizing an innovative and cost-free approach (9th SDG), CARES collects funds through its online business, selling 3D-printed bracelets made from recycled plastic. This not only contributes to social sustainability but also addresses environmental concerns, preserving marine life (14th SDG).

Their progress is commendable. They have already collected 30 kg of plastic bottles, gained 120 followers on Instagram in just two months, and plan to measure their impact by selling 1000 bracelets by November 2024.

The team behind the success

Each member of the CARES team, including Sarah, Marianna, Ankit, and Jeshaiah, brought a wealth of unique skills and perspectives that proved instrumental in the success of their CAS Project. Their diverse interests and ambitions, ranging from engineering and design to law, logistics, and environmental sustainability, created a dynamic synergy that propelled CARES towards making a lasting impact.

Sarah Thomas Volio, with a keen interest in engineering and design, spearheaded the implementation of innovative solutions. Her after-school involvement in a design club and proficiency in 3D printing played a pivotal role in the project’s success. Sarah dedicated her focus to refining the project and enhancing the website to ensure maximum effectiveness.

Marianna Ortiz Morice, who plans to study aerospace engineering, added a technical and creative dimension to the team. Leading the design aspect of the project, she focused on creating a unique and meaningful product — CARES distinctive bracelets. Her experience in Business Management further contributed to the strategic development of CARES.

Ankit Patel, aspiring to study law, provided a crucial technical and financial perspective to the team. His focus on logistics, budgeting, and cost analysis ensured the project’s viability and sustainability. Ankit’s meticulous approach was instrumental in overcoming challenges related to resource management and financial planning.

Jeshaiah Miller, an environmental enthusiast specializing in sustainability, brought a global perspective to the team. Jesiah’s personal connection with a friend working closely with Nicaraguan refugees added a compassionate touch to the project. Her insights and commitment to environmental sustainability aligned seamlessly with the goals of CARES.

Collectively, their unique skill sets, diverse expertise, and personal connections formed the backbone of CARES. The team faced challenges, including obtaining responses from a UN representative within a tight timeframe and acquiring a costly machine for creating recycled plastic filament. However, their resourcefulness and collaboration with the school community and technicians helped overcome these obstacles.

CARES CAS Project Challenge 2023

“Finding solutions to an issue we couldn’t ignore.”: Q & A with the brains behind our CAS Project Challenge Winners

What strategies did you employ to engage with the school community and individuals to assist in contacting alternative UN representatives, and how did these efforts contribute to the project’s success?

Sarah: “Our school community played a big role in helping us contact the UN representatives since one of them had come to our school to hold a talk, so we already had their contact. Also, another IB student interviewed one of them for his global politics IA, so he offered us his contact information, and Ankit’s family personally knew another. As to engaging with the school about our project, we presented it in an assembly, made sure people in our school followed our Instagram page by using the contacts we previously had, and spread the word about our project to staff and teachers in case they could lend a hand in any possible way.”

This recognition is also an incredible opportunity because it allows us to share our project with people from all over the world and spread awareness about the refugee situation in Latin America, making further support available to those who desperately need it.

What significance does the opportunity to present at the Global Student Conference hold for your team and the CARES project? How do you envision this experience contributing to your ongoing efforts?

Ankit: “We believe that this amazing opportunity will serve as a way to inspire others to follow their dreams and make a difference in the world. This recognition is also an incredible opportunity because it allows us to share our project with people from all over the world and spread awareness about the refugee situation in Latin America, making further support available to those who desperately need it.”

In what ways do you anticipate the conference experience influencing the future direction or expansion of the CARES project? Are there specific insights or inspirations you hope to gain?

Jeshaiah: “We are so grateful for the opportunity to attend this conference and excited to be able to meet, learn from, and share with like-minded people who want to see change. We look forward to learning from the keynote speakers and the workshops available to better understand our next steps for growth. And through gaining an international perspective, learn more about how CARES might even branch out to support refugees on a more global scale..”

How do you see this recognition and opportunity shaping the future of the CARES project and the team members involved? What are your aspirations beyond the conference regarding continued growth and impact?

Marianna: “This opportunity will help us increase the support we need to help CARES grow in relation to bracelet sales, but it will also help us connect with the international community. This is extremely important as it would help globalize the brand and create new branches when we go off to study on our own next year in places outside of Costa Rica. Furthermore, the recognition we get from a rigorous and demanding competition like this one will help us gain prestige to collaborate with other organizations that may be willing to help us expand.”

A bright future for CARES and its creators 

CARES, with its innovative approach and unwavering commitment, has not only won the CAS Project Challenge but is now set to make a global impact at the upcoming Global Student Conference in Edinburgh. We congratulate the team on their success and eagerly anticipate the positive change they will continue to bring to the lives of Venezuelan refugees through their inspiring project.