In March of 2012, I began my journey to FIMRC’s first clinic – Project Alajuelita in Costa Rica. I remember the excitement of going through customs, getting picked up by Alvaro, and making our way to Santa Ana in the van to meet our host families.
My return to Project Alajuelita in November was a bit different; so much has changed in the past two years. After my first stint in Alajuelita, I completed an internship at FIMRC’s Headquarters, finished my degree at Clemson, and made the move to Philadelphia to take on the role of FIMRC’s Operations Specialist. Once I arrived in San José, I still had the same giddiness as I did in 2012.
Not only have I changed, but also the project site has changed so much!
- We have a new clinic, and boy, is it NICE! The new clinic is definitely an upgrade from the one I visited two years ago. The new clinic is huge, making it easier for health education sessions and dance therapy groups.
- We have new staff! Although I missed the staff that I worked with as a volunteer, our current staff is equally as amazing. It’s fantastic to see people who are so invested in helping others and improving the communities surrounding the clinic.
As different as things seemed, many things stayed the same.
- I’m still convinced my host mom makes the best food in the world. I had the opportunity to stay with the same host family as I did before and it was wonderful. I felt like I was coming home to my family again and I received a super warm welcome (and then proceeded to stuff my face for the entirety of my stay).
- Cute kids are everywhere. The thing I love about Project Alajuelita is that women want you to hold their infants. Fine with me.
- The need is still there. As a FIMRC employee, I am amazed at the progress I see from all of our sites, but being on site, it is so apparent that the need for FIMRC’s programming is necessary. The amount of patients coming in for preventable disease shows the need for our primary clinic and also for health education to prevent these diseases.
I’m incredibly grateful for my first experience at Project Alajuelita to spark my passion for global health and community development. I’m even more grateful for my return to Alajuelita for showing me that no matter how much progress is made, there is still work to be done.
I would encourage anyone who has traveled to a FIMRC site to return if they are able. The only thing more rewarding than my first trip to Project Alajuelita was my second.