Volunteer in Costa Rica

As a volunteer in Costa Rica, you will have the opportunity to make a lasting impact on the community of Alajuelita! FIMRC's centrally located clinic serves as home base for all volunteers where you will work alongside our clinic team during daily operations and assist with innovative public health and psychological initiatives.

Our program is open to volunteers of all ages and educational or professional backgrounds. As our sites are open year-round, volunteers are welcome to travel at any time and for any length of time. We accept volunteers traveling individually as well as groups of various sizes.

Over the course of your trip you'll receive an unfiltered experience in health care field work abroad, and learn about the tremendous impact that even one person can have. At our end, so as to maximize your contribution, we will tailor your experience based on current needs, your interests, training, and amount of time that you spend with us on-site in Alajuelita. All volunteers will find a wealth of opportunities to make a difference!

What You Can Do

You will have the opportunity to participate in both the clinical and health education aspects of operations on-site, and activities can range from working with our psychologist using art therapy to leading interactive health education sessions in the patient waiting room. 

Progress in the clinic accelerates daily, and volunteers maintain important roles in the clinic’s future. Activities include establishing medical record systems, building health education curricula on the topics pertinent to the population, charting patients’ vital signs, and observing clinical interactions with medical staff. There are many opportunities for shaping an itinerary to skills or interests, as our goal is to provide every volunteer a memorable, worthwhile experience that will leave lasting impressions about healthcare in developing communities.

Outside FIMRC’s clinic, volunteers will develop health educational initiatives in Tejarcillos, a soup kitchen located in the underserved areas of Alajuelita where children play in safety and receive hot meals daily. In addition, volunteers may spend time creating materials for health education sessions with one of the many preventative health groups that meet weekly. 

The nature of a volunteer mission to Alajuelita will vary depending on the number of volunteers in each group, the length of the volunteer trip, respective proficiencies in Spanish, medical expertise, and the current needs of the community and the clinic upon arrival. Please note that a volunteer’s level of training will determine the extent of involvement in medical activities. Your experience varies depending on these factors, but what we can guarantee is that every volunteer mission will be culturally and socially enlightening. Every volunteer will have opportunities to examine Costa Rica’s systems of medical provision and contribute to ongoing operations at Project Alajuelita. 

Want to hear from our volunteers first hand?  Click here for live updates from Ambassador Katarina Visnjic! Also, check out our testimonials page to hear more about the FIMRC experience!

Sample Itinerary

The following is a sample itinerary of a one-week volunteer mission with Project Alajuelita. This itinerary has been made to provide a clear, general impression of the way volunteer time is spent. Please note, however, that in order to ensure that a volunteer's work has the greatest, most relevant impact on clinic and community, volunteer schedules are established upon a volunteer's arrival at the clinic.

Time

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

7:45

Depart homestay

Depart homestay

Depart homestay

Depart homestay

Depart homestay

8:00 - 12:00

Observe doctor in clinic

Work in pharmacy

Patient intake and education

Observe doctor in clinic

Observe psychological consults

12:00 – 1:00

Lunch in clinic

Lunch in clinic

Lunch in clinic

Lunch in clinic

Lunch in clinic

1:00 - 4:00

Create health education materials

Assist with dance therapy

Assist with kids' health education group

Assist at special needs home

Health education with mothers in soup kitchen

Accommodations

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Housing

Volunteers are housed through FIMRC’s Homestay Program. Since the inception of Project Alajuelita, we have cultivated a network of Costa Rican families living in the town of Santa Ana, a comfortable suburb located about 20 minutes from the capital city of San Jose and about 30 minutes from the clinic site. Homestays all have telephone access and are located within walking distance of internet cafes, making it possible to communicate with friends and family at home. FIMRC’s Homestay Coordinator screens all host families and ensures that volunteers are satisfied with their placements. Volunteers are asked to indicate all housing preferences, including meal requests and pet/food allergies in the enrollment forms. All houses are clean and comfortable with western-style toilets and showers.

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Transportation

All transportation will be provided by a reputable hired driver with whom FIMRC has been working since the inception of Project Alajuelita’s volunteer program. Upon arrival at the San Jose airport, volunteers are met by FIMRC’s Transportation Coordinator, who greets all volunteers and provides van transportation to the homestay. Our Transportation Coordinator personally provides van transportation between the homestays and clinic site during each volunteering day. Due to the geography of the region, there are times when vehicles cannot access the final destination and groups will have to do some walking in order to reach a community.

 

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Meals

Three authentic home-cooked meals per day are provided by the host families. The meals tend to be traditional Costa Rican food and often include a mix of rice, beans and protein. A vegetable or salad is also often served on the side. Volunteers are welcome to dine elsewhere if they desire, but at their own expense.

 

 

Trip Cost

The cost of your program includes the program donation that supports our project sites as well as housing, food, & transportation. Transportation includes airport pick up/drop off and transportation to/from project site during volunteer days, and three meals prepared by the homestay family for the duration of the volunteer’s stay. Excursions and trips for non-volunteer related activity as well as the associated costs are the responsibility of the volunteer.

By arranging lodging, food, and transport for you, we enable you to safely experience the local culture and focus your energy on the work you will be doing in the community! 

The following cost structure reflects individual participation in the Global Health Volunteer Program at Project Alajuelita:

  • Peak (January, March, May, June, July): $1234 per week
  • Semi-peak (December, February, August, September): $1234 per week
  • Non-peak (April, October, November): $1234 per week

For long-term volunteer experiences, contact missions@fimrc.org to discuss a discounted cost structure.

Additional approximate costs include:

  • Roundtrip airfare generally ranging between $350-$600
  • Recommended spending money of $150 per week, at the discretion of the volunteer

 

Flights

Volunteers are responsible for arranging their own flights and must fly in and out of San Jose Juan Santamaria Airport (code SJO). If you are traveling with a group, please coordinate with your fellow group members to ensure that you arrive and depart together. 

FIMRC partners with StudentUniverse, a company that provides discounted airfare to students as well as individuals ages 18 - 25 years old. While not required, volunteers are are able to take advantage of this partnership through booking discounted flights online at: 

http://www.studentuniverse.com/travel/fimrc

If you wish to work with a travel agent, please feel free to contact Leah Webster, FIMRC's Travel Specialist at StudentUniverse (617-321-3264 ; leah.webster@studentuniverse.com). If traveling individually, there is a $35 booking fee to work with Leah; however, if traveling with a group of 10 or more volunteers, Leah will arrange your group travel at no additional cost.

If booking online through participating companies, we ask that you please consider registering with www.igive.com/fimrc. Once you register, iGive will automatically donate a portion of every online purchase you make with selected vendors (including many major airline booking companies) to FIMRC, which means you will make even more of an impact on children’s health at no additional cost to you. 

 

Travel

Passport - US citizens can enter Costa Rica with a valid passport with at least 6 months of validity from the date of travel prior to the expiration date listed. Volunteers who do not hold a US passport must check with their respective embassies for information on travel eligibility. Volunteers are responsible for obtaining or renewing their passports and ensuring that all travel documents are in order.

Visa - US passport holders are not required to obtain a visa prior to travel. A tourist visa can be purchased at the San Jose airport upon arrival in-country. Non-US passport holders should check with their respective embassies for current visa requirements and regulations. You are responsible for ensuring that you are legally eligible to travel abroad to the country of service.

Vaccinations - We refer all volunteers to the information provided by the Centers for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov/travel for the most up to date vaccination recommendations. Please note the different recommendations not only for the country you are visiting, but also for the region in which you will be staying.

 

Travel Insurance

FIMRC has partnered with Worldwide Risk Management (WRM) to assist in providing you with adequate international travel and medical insurance. WRM specializes in providing international health insurance to mission groups, volunteer organizations, and individuals traveling overseas for missions and humanitarian relief. FIMRC and WRM would like to suggest the Outreach Travel Medical Insurance product as the most appropriate insurance plan for your traveling needs. It is designed for the individual short term volunteer traveling for 5 days and up to 12 months. Outreach Travel provides medical benefits, emergency evacuation, terrorism coverage, natural disaster benefits, trip interruption, and lost luggage benefits. These are just a few highlights and coverage depends upon the plan that you choose. If you would like to get a quote or are ready to purchase, click here.

If you should have any questions about insurance coverage or would like a no obligation quote, please do not hesitate to contact FIMRC’s insurance agent at WRM at info@worldwiderisk.com. Please provide your age, date of birth, country of citizenship, destination country, dates of trip, and trip cost when requesting a quote.

Travel Abroad

There's no better way to truly learn about a different country than by immersing yourself fully in the culture and a community.

 

Make A Difference

We're dedicated to programs that are sustainable and locally driven. Volunteering with us means that you'll be able to contribute in meaningful ways that will last well beyond your time on-site.

Gain Experience

Whether you're filling out a medical school application, applying for a job or just looking to give back, we're here to help you gain experience in responsible international healthcare and development.

 

 

Ready to Get Involved?

The enrollment process begins once you work with our team to confirm your volunteering site and trip dates. Upon confirmation, you will be sent a welcome email which will contain instructions for enrollment, as well as deadlines for the submission of materials. If you have questions about how this process works, do not hesitate to contact missions@fimrc.org or 1-888-211-8575. Click below to receive more information or to begin the enrollment process!