During January, Madeleine and Eric took a side trip to visit Project Limón in Nicaragua. Madeleine is the Global Innovations Manager at HQ in Philadelphia, and Eric is her husband currently attending Temple's DPT Program. Below you can read about their experience as newbies to the FIMRC family abroad!
With a major called "Foreign Service," and previous experience traveling to many different types of countries around the world, I had an idea of what to expect. What I couldn't expect, was the overwhelming feeling of joy and pride when seeing everything I thought playing out in Limón. But let's back up.
Eric and I arrived after being picked up at the port of San Jorge by one of Yasmil's transport team members. Spanish, I am sorry to say, is not my forte, and so communication was difficult. We were also exhausted from the trip so far, so sleeping was a great option in an air conditioned car. We arrived at our host family's where Yahira graciously welcomed us into her home, and quickly fed us to stop our uncontrollable hangry looks. It was interesting to find the differences in our coping methods due to the communication barrier: I clung to imitations and finding key words while Eric preferred the methodical technique of referencing the dictionary and properly conjugating verbs. That's probably why he's in science and I'm not.
The following day was our first in FIMRC's clinic, where we were joined by Clarke University nursing students. It was an exciting start with: orientation! It truly was interesting learning about the history of Nicaragua and the socio-economic & political climate in which we would briefly take part. The afternoon brought on the hustle & bustle of vitals, consultations, prescriptions, and crying children. It was an incredible feeling to watch this occur and know the effort that goes into making it happen. The volunteers provide financial and hands-on support in continuing the programming, the staff provide the expertise and connection to the community, and the individuals continue to return when there is something they cannot understand about their health. The day was exhausting for everyone, but extremely rewarding.
Following the clinic day, we took our supplies and traveled to a remote village called El Lajal. Here we borrow a woman's house to conduct consultations, and create a makeshift waiting room and pharmacy in the outdoor spaces. Again, seeing the pieces fit together was exciting and satisfying, knowing that the care provided was a combined effort between so many different players of different backgrounds, coming together to make a small difference on this particular day.
The final piece of our week at Project Limón involved observing and participating in the additional programming provided by FIMRC staff and volunteers (both local and global). The main programs offered include a Malnutrition Program, Prenatal Program, Diabetes Program, and Los Pipitos Program. Each of these allows FIMRC to connect with the community on an individual basis, entering people's homes and educating them on health issues they currently face or could face, while providing access to basic treatment options if possible. Here, in their homes, you see the relationship of FIMRC staff and community members come to life. You see the commitment of FIMRC to tracking down every possible person in the program by speaking to neighbors, or following up day after day to ensure their patients stay healthy and happy. Smiles and giggles come through as we speak with a young woman about the baby she will soon be having, and love continuously flows from children to Cata, who helps to run Los Pipitos where children receive individualized attention lacking at home.
Although I may have had little impact while at Project Limón, it truly is the knowledge of being a part of something bigger that makes it worthwhile. Every day FIMRC staff is thinking of the community first, and how to improve their health through knowledge and clinical care. This is what makes me most proud. The fact that even though I may leave, I know that FIMRC will stay, day in and day out, helping in any way they can to make a difference.