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The Costa Family Foundation was set up in 2007 by the owners of Hotel La Perla, inGamba’s home away from home in the heart of the Italian Dolomites. And as anyone who has stayed there will know, the Costas have a unique outlook on life, in which generosity plays a huge role.

After seeing first-hand the difficulties faced by young Tibetan exiles living in India, the Costa family decided to start a charity dedicated to the protection and promotion of the rights of young people all around the world, and in addition to their work with the Tibetan Children’s Village, which works on behalf of Tibetan refugees, they are also involved in projects in Uganda and Togo.

In less than 10 years, the foundation has collected almost €600,000 to support projects in India and Africa, but like everything else with the Costas, you feel the best is yet to come.

“For us, the foundation means awareness, it means joy,” says Michil Costa, the head of the family who is also president of the famous Maratona dles Dolomites granfondo.

“We live here in a small piece of paradise. We have to understand that and commit ourselves to sharing that good fortune, to get active, and help those born less lucky. Knowing that we’re making a difference is a great satisfaction.”

It would be easy to become overwhelmed with by the scale of suffering in many parts of the world today, but much like our friends at World Bicycle Relief, the Costas remain committed to a cause that first struck a personal chord with them, while also branching out into new regions to help others.

“Personally, I’m very attached to the Tibetan people and the projects we’re involved in with the Tibetan Children’s Village in Dharamsala, India,” admits Michil.

“I think between us Ladins [the native people of the Dolomite mountain range] and the Tibetan people there is a special bond, a kind of symbiosis due to our shared history as minorities. Of course, the big difference, is that we’re protected, while the Tibetans are heavily repressed by the Chinese Government.

“It makes also me proud to think of the ecological projects we’ve undertaken in Uganda over the past few years. There’s a big difference between our work in India and Uganda – in Africa there is a lack of the most basic needs for survival: water, food, security.

“We believe in a long-term type of aid, in helping those in need, to achieve a personal self-sufficiency. That’s why we are committed to our projects in Uganda for a minimum of five years, because we think that’s the shortest possible time frame in which it is possible to achieve concrete results.

“I think we need clarity before charity. I think this concept is very important; I actually don’t really like the word ‘charity’ because it has a hint of being optional about it, when I have too much, I can give something away to someone who needs it.

“Rather, I believe that helping one’s neighbour is our duty as humans. ‘No man is an island / Entire of itself / Every man is a piece of the continent,” as John Donne wrote. Everything is connected, I have to be aware that every action I make has a consequence and if in Uganda, life expectancy is something like half of ours, I’m responsible too.

“We may be far apart, but we are not separate.”

To find out more about the amazing work that the Costa Family Foundation does, and to help support their global projects, check our their official site. 


Colin O'Brien

Colin is an author and journalist from Ireland. He first met inGamba's founder João Correia back in 2013. João handed him a bidon full of Chianti Classico and took him to a three-course lunch. They've been friends ever since.