We take our mission very seriously, and participation is a HUGE part of FIMRC’s success, and can bring about challenges when participation is low. In Nicaragua, this is seen through all three forms of participation: the community, the staff, and the volunteers. All these people help to make up the FIMRC family, and we are so grateful for the work they do in improving health and awareness within Rivas.
Before committing to helping a community, the community must also commit to helping FIMRC. It is crucial to have the community understand why changes are needed, and how those changes will improve their lifestyle. It is sometimes difficult to do this when working in a community where health literacy is very low and the programs we offer are foreign ideas. Diabetic meeting attendance, for example, ebbs and flows, even though there are many interactive pieces to the classes such as cooking or yoga classes. FIMRC must constantly work with the community to figure out new and innovative ways to get people excited for our programs and increase participation. Even though it’s difficult for patients to understand their health issues that aren’t tangible or visible, such as diabetes, with the program they’ve seen a reduction in blood glucose levels since the program started. In general more people know about FIMRC and what it is, the programs we offer, etc. and are more trusting of our programs seeing that we have had a constant presence in the community during the last 7 years, continually adding programs and increasing our community impact.
The entire FIMRC Project Limón staff team has worked so well together and have all been rock stars. They all support each other in everything they do and help out whenever and wherever needed. They’re great at bouncing new ideas off each other in order to constantly be thinking of how they can improve the site and ensure that they’re meeting their goals and mission as well as meeting the needs of the communities they serve. For example, a patient named Wendy was a part of the malnutrition program, weighing 8 pounds at 6 months of age. She also suffered from a very severe heart murmur. With the help of the entire staff, she gained enough weight to qualify for a heart surgery to repair her murmur in June. Normally, a surgery like that can take up to 1 year to receive, but with the help of FIMRC’s Pediatrician she was able to get the surgery within 6 months!
As stated in how we accomplish our mission, global participation is important to being able to raise awareness about public health issues faced around the world, as well as helping FIMRC accomplish its mission of access to healthcare. Volunteers, whether they’re GHVP, Ambassadors, or SIHF Fellows, have been so instrumental in helping develop and expand the programs offered to the communities. Volunteers have helped work with our Los Pipitos Therapy Program that offers learning and physical therapy to children with disabilities in the surrounding areas. They’ve gone on home visits included in the Malnutrition Program to weigh children and provide education to the family on nutrition to allow the child to grow at a normal rate. SIHF Fellows created a garden to be used in both the Malnutrition Program and the Diabetic Program, and developed a health program for a local girls soccer team on reproductive health, healthy relationships, and life goals. Our volunteers help implement the programs in the communities, and are a large part of the FIMRC Family.
Each of these groups continuously helps the project site grow in implementing current programming, developing additional pieces, and providing constant feedback on how to improve. Participation is such a large part of how FIMRC succeeds in providing access to healthcare and education on improving the community’s health. It takes a village, and by that we mean a global village, to make positive, sustainable change!